Despite that absence of widespread support, some area residents and elected officials still try to create a conversation about new transportation corridors over the Columbia River
I appreciate folks who fight the good fight, even when it seems to be against seemingly insurmountable odds. I would like to think that at some point or points in my 56 years of life on this earth, I’ve had the strength, courage, resolve and resiliency to roll the proverbial large boulder up the steep hill. No compelling anecdotal evidence comes quickly to mind, however.
At my advanced age, I’m not sure I have the energy or staying power to sustain a prolonged effort in a losing battle. It might anger some of my friends for me to equate the cause to improve the region’s transportation congestion issues, and the lack of a plan for solutions anytime in the near future, as a losing battle. But, there are more than enough examples available that it might just be an honest reaction for me to be discouraged when confronted by the reality of the situation.
Locally, here in Clark County, no citizen or elected official has been more persistent in his or her attempt to raise awareness for the need for solutions to the transportation congestion issues we face than Camas resident John Ley, who once again took his plea to the members of the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Board of Directors Tuesday.
Ley challenged members of the RTC board and others to be accountable for their respective positions on how to solve the region’s transportation congestion issues.
“I would like to hear from Chair (Anne) McEnerny-Ogle, where would she support locating a new third bridge and corridor?,’’ Ley asked. “I would like to hear from the ports where they would desire a new bridge and corridor. I would like our small-town representatives to share where and when they believe we should be planning for third and fourth bridges across the (Columbia) river.
“Please, tell citizens how you will solve the huge traffic congestion problems,’’ Ley said near the end of his public comments. “Tell us where and when you support planning for third and fourth bridges. We need more than two ways to cross the Columbia River.’’
Medvigy attempts to keep the conversation for more crossings alive
In his short tenure on the Clark County Council, Gary Medvigy has quickly become one of the few elected officials championing the need for additional crossings over the Columbia River. At Tuesday’s RTC board meeting, Medvigy once again did his part to keep the issue in the public conversation, stating that he was working with his fellow Clark County councilors to explore the issues involved.
He referred to previous remarks by Vancouver Mayor and RTC Chair Anne McEnerny-Ogle about her participation in the efforts of the bi-state Interstate Bridge committee to further the discussion of a replacement of the I-5 Bridge.
“Just talking about that Mid-Columbia Economic Development (District) and bi-state cooperation, just talking about that bi-state cooperation and corridors; I kept hearing the word corridors, and corridors, and wow, you’re singing my tune as far as that goes,’’ Medvigy told McEnerny-Ogle at Tuesday’s RTC meeting.
Medvigy referred to a 2014 presentation from the Figg Bridge Group about an eastside crossing at NE 192nd Ave. in Clark County to connect with Interstate 84 in Oregon. The councilor questioned why nothing more was ever done with the work by the engineers involved in that proposal.
“I’ve never stated a position on a tunnel, east-west corridor, I think that is for the engineers and land use planners,’’ Medvigy said. “It (the Figg presentation) came up in the context that I’m now starting with county staff to look at our north-south corridors, our strategic road plan as we look towards planning. It’s just such a ripe issue to talk about in this body (RTC) because we can’t do anything unless we talk in the context of where it’s going to connect south of the (Columbia) river.’’
McEnerny then pressed Medvigy to clarify the nature of his discussions with county staff about new transportation corridors.
“Do I hear that the County Council is considering land use to develop corridors, which would entail buying, purchasing land using eminent domain on a new north-south corridor?’’ McEnerny-Ogle asked.
“We are nowhere near that,’’ Medvigy said. “As you know, there are a lot of preliminary steps that must occur, so we’re just starting the discussion to see what we have existing right now, to see if any of these visioning plans, the work that was done in 2014, if any of that can actually be solidified into the county’s strategic planning. The simple answer is ‘no,’ we’re not anywhere near that stage yet.’’
McEnerny-Ogle did confirm to Medvigy that she had scheduled a meeting with Southwest Washington mayors to discuss the issue of creating new transportation corridors.
Congresswoman urges Gov. Inslee to renew opposition to Oregon’s tolling scheme
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler sent a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday urging his renewed engagement in opposing Oregon’s unfair tolling scheme.
In July of 2018, Governor Inslee visited Vancouver and declared that Oregon’s proposal to toll I-5 and I-205 at the state border “will not happen.” Yet the state of Oregon continues to move forward with its efforts.
“Now that you’ve declared your intention to serve as governor for four more years, we need your involvement before Oregon moves forward with a plan that treats Southwest Washington commuters as a revenue source without providing them with any benefit,” Herrera Beutler wrote to Inslee.
The full text of the letter follows, and is available here.