Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matthew Garrett honors Board of County Councilors’ decision to have Eileen Quiring represent the county
VANCOUVER — In the end, Eileen Quiring may not have a major impact on the effort of Oregon officials to place tolls on the I-5 and I-205 corridors. But, the Clark County councilor promises to fight the good fight.
On Wednesday, Quiring accepted an invitation from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Matthew Garrett to serve on the Portland Region Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee.
You might remember that Quiring was selected by her fellow councilors to represent the Board of County Councilors on the Oregon committee. However, in a confusing move, Garrett appointed Clark County Chair Marc Boldt to the committee instead. Both Boldt and Quiring sent letters to Garrett asking that he reconsider the appointment of Boldt, and the ODOT director did just that.
“I would like to invite you to serve on the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Portland Region Value Pricing Policy Advisory Committee,’’ Garrett wrote in an email sent to Quiring on Wednesday. “Your knowledge and experience will greatly benefit this group by bringing the voice of Clark County to the table.’’
When contacted by ClarkCountyToday.com Wednesday, Quiring confirmed that she had accepted Garrett’s invitation.
“Yes, I was invited to participate in the value pricing committee,’’ Quiring wrote in an email. “My understanding is that I will be the only Clark County Councilor on the committee.’’
The committee is scheduled to have its first of six meetings on Nov. 20. The committee, made up mostly of Oregonians, will provide a recommendation to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) on a number of issues, including whether or not, and even how to, place tolls on the two transportation corridors between Oregon and Washington.
Thanks in large part to the urging of Washington lawmakers, U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington will be represented on the advisory committee.
Kris Strickler, the Southwest Regional Director for the Washington State Department of Transportation, was given a seat on the committee, which will include up to 20 Oregonians. City of Vancouver Councilor Anne McEnerny-Ogle will also serve on the committee.
“I always believed they would place me on the committee – so I am happy to serve,’’ Quiring said. “However, the voice that I will give for the county I fear will be a lone one. My hope is that I can make some points and have an actual voice.’’
When Boldt was announced as the county’s appointee to the committee, Quiring told ClarkCountyToday.com that “the representative from ODOT Region One told Marc that ‘we don’t want her (Quiring), she will vote no (on tolls).’’’
On Wednesday, Quiring vowed to continue the fight against tolls that will burden Southwest Washington residents traveling across the Columbia River into Oregon. The revenue from those tolls are targeted for transportation improvements in Oregon, many of which will have little or no benefit to Washington residents. Those improvements won’t address additional corridors between the two states or the replacement of the I-5 bridge.
“In the end, it will be the Federal Government that I believe will resolve this issue,’’ Quiring said. “My hope is that Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler will prevail in her fight to protect SW Washington commuters on both I-5 and I-205 from footing the bill for infrastructure improvements that they will not be able to take advantage of (because they – the improvements — will presumably be south of their routes).’’