Opinion: One would think elected officials would learn their lesson

Rep. Vicki Kraft
Rep. Vicki Kraft

Rep. Vicki Kraft offers her thoughts on the effort to bring light rail to Southwest Washington and continues her push for a third bridge over the Columbia River

Vicki Kraft
State representative, 17th District

President Joe Biden came to the area yesterday to promote the I-5 Bridge Replacement (IBR) project and the $1.2 trillion Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) taxpayer money that will be used to fund this project. Currently this IBR project is estimated to cost $5 billion.

The key question is – what will the people get for all this money?

Per the Executive Steering Group (ESG) meeting and the Bi-State Bridge Committee meeting that took place yesterday, there are three things that people will get.

• 1) This project will bring light rail into Vancouver and Clark County. This means a likelihood of even more crime coming into Southwest Washington at a time when crimes have already been on the rise.

• 2) This project will bring tolls to commuters. Double tolls due to the Oregon Regional Mobility Pricing legislation passed in 2017. These amounts will be on top of any taxes commuters have to pay to Oregon just for working in Oregon.

• 3) Likely there will be no significant reduction in commute times. Of the 12 project options proposed and discussed this morning, eight of them or 75 percent will not offer substantial time saving for those commuting to and from work, or for freight drivers trying to deliver goods in a timely and cost-effective fashion.

The real question becomes – if there’s no significant benefit to reducing congestion and commute times, why would elected officials support this project and have the highest official in the nation come out to promote it?

Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty of Portland commented yesterday during the ESG meeting, “Behavior modification should be part of the conversation.” Really? A mayor on our side of the river involved with this project has effectively said the same thing. Why should elected officials be trying to get you to “modify your behavior?” They want you to do what they want you to do, instead of you exercising your freedom. Why would any elected official think that’s their job? To force you to do something you don’t want to do?

In this case the tolls and higher prices are intended to get you out of your vehicles and riding their light rail instead of driving your car – even if it’s less convenient or feasible for you. By the way, these two items – tolls and light rail – are the very same issues that effectively killed the last I-5 bridge replacement project, more commonly known as the CRC or Columbia River Crossing.

One would think elected officials would learn their lesson. Their duty is to listen to the people, serve them, and deliver what they want – not make the people do what the elected officials want them to do.

That’s why I continue to work for a Third Bridge which will bring more throughput lanes to commuters and freight in the Southwest Washington region to actually help people get to and from their jobs or destination in their own vehicle faster, more conveniently, and with less traffic congestion.

Visit my website VickiKraft.com for more details on a real, common sense transportation solution for Southwest Washington – a 3rd Bridge now.

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Scott Hooper
Scott Hooper
9 months ago

Something about this feels very dishonest. If you equate work commute times to that of freight, that implies you are considering only the time of vehicle travel, whereas with light rain a great many people’s commute will be via that and probably shorter–and certainly simpler (I have many friends who work on their commute due to the availability of light rail).

Your worry over crime is not founded but is just a right-wing political complaint.

But you also forget to mention the business boon from having light-rail from PDX to Vancouver. Our businesses suffer a lack of customers because of the tax difference between WA and OR, and our stores and companies would really like more business form OR.

Allen Smith
Allen Smith
9 months ago
Reply to  Scott Hooper

Simpler? Definitely not. The existing express buses to downtown Portland are simpler because there are no transfers.

Faster? Unlikely. It already takes 31 minutes on the Yellow Line from the first C-Tran bus stop in downtown Portland to the Expo Center. Add the time to make a stop at Jantzen Beach, get across the river, and maybe stop at the Vancouver Waterfront before getting to a transit hub, and you’ve added another 7–10 minutes to the trip. Now you have to transfer to another C-Tran bus to get to 99th St. or Fisher’s Landing. Transfers always take time, and are undependable. And we’re assuming C-Tran adds express buses from the rail beachhead to the transit centers, which is…iffy at best, because at this point, you are no longer time-competitive with existing bus service to downtown Portland, and few people are likely to use the product if the existing bus service remains.

This assumes that pre-2020 commuting patterns return and make all this viable, which is also iffy.

Oh, and TriMet wanted a permanent 0.1% sales tax to run a few hundred feet of light rail in Washington.

There’s a reason this has gotten voted down every time.

9 months ago

Great piece Vicky. Another bridge, hopefully without tolls, would be wonderful. As to your comments about politicians not listening and pushing their own will, well, we have seen this over and over here in WA. We voted what.. 3 times for the reduce car tabs.. and it still hasn’t happened. The governor does not listen to or care about the will of the people. Your concern about crime is very well founded and not political at all. Thank you for your insight and your continual fight for good in WA!

9 months ago

This 2007 article explains “Portland’s light-rail crime problem is worse than ever today. TriMet’s solution: end the downtown free-fare zone. If people have to pay to get on, TriMet officials reason, criminals will be less likely to use the system.
“Fareless Square provides a free ride for panhandlers, who go back and forth between downtown and the Lloyd Center, and drug dealers and rowdy gangs of young people, homeless people and drunks who are using the train as a shelter and a place to do their business,” says TriMet’s general manager…

Like most light-rail systems, fare payment in Portland is more-or-less on an honor system: most people never get checked to see if they are carrying a valid fare.”

2017 Article HOW SAFE IS TRIMET? attack on a MAX train that left two good Samaritans dead and another seriously injured…  a 71-year-old Sandy resident was beaten with a baseball bat by a 15-year-old suspect gang member at the Gresham Transit Center…Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis ordered city police to start patrolling the MAX lines. “TriMet has maintained that crime along the light-rail line is simply an issue of perception, but the citizens that I represent tell me a much different story,” Bemis wrote to Hansen on Nov. 2, 2007. “Accounts of public intoxication, gang activity, assault, harassment, and drug activity — not to mention fare avoidance — are prevalent.
August 2010, off-duty Clackamas County Sheriff’s Lt. was assaulted by two men on a MAX train. He was coming back from Portland International Airport with his wife, …
According to TriMet, riders and employees still report hundreds of crimes on the bus and rail lines every year, many of them serious.”


9 months ago

“during the ESG meeting”

ESG is poison and nothing but a grift. 5 billion dollars being spent in unwise ways by unserious people.

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