24 Oct Jon Cartu Imply: Ore. Sen. Lew Frederick talks transportation and I-5 Bridge
Senator believes ‘people value their time the most’
A year ago at the first meeting of the Bi-State Bridge Committee meeting of 16 Oregon and Washington legislators, they began a review of the failed Columbia River Crossing. At the forefront of that initial discussion was the “foundational principles,” which include the Purpose and Need Statement, which defined the problem to be solved.
Many members expressed a desire to consider possible changes to the Purpose and Need Statement at that meeting. The 16 Washington and Oregon lawmakers pledged a clean slate on the long-delayed project, Clark County Today reported a year ago.
“The longest discussion of the afternoon centered on adoption of the committee’s foundational principles,” CCT reported. Several members of the committee weighed in.
“I would move that we change that opening statement to ‘determine if replacing the I-5 Bridge is the primary goal,’” said Oregon Sen. Cliff Bentz. “In other words, folks, I don’t want it said that we walked in here with just replacement of the bridge as the goal.”
Bentz said he wanted to make sure that the committee is open to discussing future plans as well, including potential exploration of a third crossing over the Columbia River. Vancouver Sen. Annette Cleveland noted that there was also another foundational principle that stated the committee would “consider and review future bi-state Columbia River bridge needs for possible repair, maintenance, or new construction.”
Several people noted that the committee should set its top priority as “reducing traffic congestion” rather than simply replacing an aging bridge with another one that won’t address the growing problem of a long daily commute.
“That was not listed in the priority and needs. Only safety and freight was numbered today,” said 17th District Rep. Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver). “That’s a travesty.”
One member of that committee is Oregon Sen. Lew Frederick. He remarked that he “still carries some scars” from the previous failed efforts to replace the bridge.
Clark County Today reached out to Sen. Frederick earlier this month for a conversation about transportation problems, the Bi-State Bridge Committee and what he would like to see happen moving forward. He voted against the CRC in the past. “He strongly questions the ‘priorities’ of the CRC plan as it continues to plow forward” it was reported at the time.
CCT asked: “At this most recent meeting, October 1, committee members were reminded that it was the Purpose and Need statement that defines the project going forward; and against which all options are measured for success or failure to solve the problem.
“What is your position about possibly changing the Purpose and Need statement? If you would like to see a change, what would that change or changes be? Next, are there any parts of the current Purpose and Need statement that must remain for you to support going forward? Finally, is there a point at which the committee will propose possible changes?”
Sen. Frederick.chose to respond to the final question first. “I think that there’s going to be a point where we’re going to have to be proposing that.
“I considered the proposal incredibly narrow in scope,” he said. “That we only need to deal with was how many cars are coming across the bridge, that’s not what I consider to be an important or an appropriate problem. The thing that we should be dealing with should be looking at significantly more.”
“The need statement needs to be dealt with,” he said.
“But I think that the scope of the project has been too narrowly focused; it has not been multi-modal,’’ Frederick said. “My view is it has been multi-modal only in saying that we should have a light rail line of some form, or a bike lane. That’s not multi-modal in my mind.”
“We have not really addressed the potential in terms of high speed rail, and I’m going to continue to focus before that approach because I think it has a great deal more possibility than the other things that we’ve seen come forward so far,’’ he said. “We (have to be) able to deal with the bottleneck at the bridge as well as the bottleneck quite frankly, in my district before the bridge. We need to be looking at that as well. So those were the two issues that I continue to talk about. I will continue to bring up and until those are really answered to my satisfaction.
“It is not that important for me to have some kind of edifice created that everyone’s supposed to be happy about,’’ Frederick said. “I want to see something that’s going to be effective, and will not damage the rest of the community.’’ Frederick was referring to his north Portland neighborhoods.
More questions and answers
CCT: “Many citizens here in Southwest Washington will be heartened to hear you also mention the other bottleneck (Rose Quarter), south of the bridge area. Because until you fix both of those, there’s still significant traffic backups and congestion.”
Frederick: “That’s exactly right. The people in my district, especially those that are south of Delta Park, already have a high asthma rate as it is. We don’t need anything more. So that’s one of the concerns that I have. Absolutely.”
CCT: “You mentioned the high speed rail. If I’m remembering correctly, the current…