Portland resident Kyanne Probasco comments on a recent Clark County Today story on the subject of light rail on the Interstate Bridge Replacement Project
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com
As a native Portland resident, I have a few thoughts on John Ley’s article regarding Peter DeFazio’s insistence that light rail be included in any new bridge project in Portland. I am merely a citizen, not an expert; however, I believe critical facts were overlooked in DeFazio’s assessment that ought to be addressed.
First, “Of particular relevance in the Biden plan, is a proposal giving discretionary power to the secretary of transportation to rebuild the 10 most economically significant bridges in the United States, according to DeFazio” (emphasis mine). Who decides what bridges are the most “economically significant”? If it is a matter of equity, it seems only reasonable this would be the first thing the public ought to know. However, for the sake of expediency, I will move on.
Next, we come to the crux and main issue of the article. Light rail. Where to begin? It is difficult to overstate the amazing hubris of the following: “The light rail is still a sticking point, as I understand it,” [DeFazio] said. He had a conversation with Kris Strickler (ODOT director), who suggested putting bus rapid transit on the project and bringing light rail later. DeFazio said “that doesn’t really work for me.” For HIM? He goes on to say later, “I think it would be incredibly stupid to do this project without extending light rail over the river. Yes.”
Just who is this project for, or about? As John Ley has repeatedly pointed out in several recent articles, public transportation is NOT a priority in any recent public survey or poll. If this weren’t enough, ridership data on C-TRAN and Tri-Met indicate a significant decrease in demand. We the citizens are not at all interested in adding bus lines or expanding light rail; rather, we have explicitly requested private vehicle highway solutions that reduce congestion and particularly divert traffic away from the city core. DeFazio said he is “concerned about the lack of urgency” to create a bridge replacement plan. Well, unless building a new bridge or repairing a current one would address the public’s primary concerns, I don’t see them caring much about that either.
Finally, DeFazio says he “doesn’t understand the objections” to an expanded light rail system. I will attempt to put it simply with a question: “If no one is riding or wants it, light rail for what?”
Kyanne M. Probasco