CRC and WSDOT: Defending the Indefensible

by lewwaters

After years of “studies” and planning, not to mention sinking nearly $150 Million of taxpayer money into the abyss we call the Columbia River Crossing project, revelations previously marginalized, if not hidden, seem to be coming forth in a rapid pace. By all appearances, more and more it shows that we “Hounds of Whinerville,” citizens and business owners who have spoken against this boondoggle have been largely correct in their warnings.

The appearance of gross incompetence of this project is almost unimaginable. That anybody would even attempt to defend this high level of incompetence is even more unbelievable. But, with every revelation that has come out, that is exactly what some elected leaders and directors of the WSDOT and CRC continue to do.

How can we forget the abysmal treatment of forensic accountant Tiffany Couch after her independent audit of what documents she received from CRC pertaining to the finances of the project raised several red flags? Questionable payments, unaccounted for funds, questionable accounting practices all swept under the rug as WSDOT used two of their top level people to review her findings before writing them off and claiming theirs was an “independent review.”

Tie that to the claims of 49th legislative district representative Jim Moeller who said of her findings, “In a project of such huge scale and complexity, at least some errant billing and bookkeeping is inevitable,” before demeaning Ms. Couch with, “I think that Tiffany is doing the job she was hired to do, and that’s stop the project” questioning her objectivity due to her being hired by successful businessman David Madore, a critic of the project.

But who questions Moeller’s “objectivity” what with the project being in his district?

We “Hounds of Whinerville” have long proclaimed the primary reason for the new bridge was in order for Portland, Oregon to invade our community with their light rail and we have been scoffed at every inch of the way by supporters, including Vancouver’s mayor, Tim Leavitt. So what was the reaction when the Willamette Week revealed that the Oregon Supreme Court acknowledged, “The massive Interstate 5 bridge and freeway project is a ‘political necessity’ to persuade Clark County residents to accept something they previously didn’t want — a MAX light-rail line from Portland to Vancouver?”

It’s difficult to figure out as so far, it has not even been acknowledged by any supporters, including the Columbian newspaper.

Funding for the outrageously expensive project, the highest cost to date for any project in Southwest Washington State has been a bone of contention. In spite of opposition to tolling by taxpayers, the legislature is moving ahead with plans to begin tolling even before construction begins. C-Tran is moving ahead with plans to stick residents with even more sales tax to fund operations and maintenance of light rail and a Bus Rapid Transit project down Fourth Plain Boulevard that could cause many businesses to shut down while Mayor Tim Leavitt continues to renege on his word of opposing tolling and obtaining voter approval for further tax increases.

Revelations of wrong data being used for future projections of the ability to pay for this boondoggle are also ignored and marginalized as we see officials continue to seek other funding including restricting just who gets to vote for the proposed tax increase as they may once again gerrymander a tax sub-district, even though those outside the district would also have to pay the tax whenever they shop within the sub-district.

Even the revelation that Washington State will foot the cost fully for maintaining the bridge causes the blinders to go up higher.

Every step of the way we continue to see big problems, incompetence and inflated egos from those proposing and supporting this nonsense. But none yet have risen to the level of the recent revelation that after all of the years of supposedly planning and studying this albatross that has cost taxpayers $150 Million, a necessary permit for construction from the US Coast Guard was denied because the clearance from the river to the bottom of the bridge is too low!!

As can be expected and in further showing the sheer lunacy surrounding this project, CRC officials now criticize the Coast Guard claiming, “the USCG declined multiple opportunities to document any serious concerns regarding bridge clearance over a period greater than five years,” from CRC director Nancy Boyd.

First and foremost, it is not up to the Coast Guard to go to CRC to warn of such problems, it is incumbent upon the CRC to seek their counsel as planning is being done.

In the revelation of the proposed bridge having insufficient clearance for river traffic, we read of another report in 2008 noted “infrequent clearance needs of 100 to 110 feet by marine contractors, but the vast majority of vessels, tug and tow boats, tall sailing ships, cruise and passenger ships — needed far less headroom.”

Even with the “infrequent need” clearance cited and remembering the new bridge will not be a draw bridge as currently spans the Columbia river, it is incomprehensible to then read, “There are no apparent significant adverse impacts from the (95 foot) vertical clearance” planned for the new bridge.

Are they planning on those “infrequent need” vessels to all be submarines?

But even beyond that, in a document supplied by the CRC and in their possession for 8 years, we read concerning the I-205 bridge just upriver from the I-5 crossing, “the height of the I-205 bridge from the river as 136 feet over the main stem channel. The center 300 feet of the bridge has a 144 ft clearance.”

What level of incompetence is it that knowing these bridges handles the same river traffic, that the new bridge was planned with less clearance?

Putting this huge mistake off on the Coast Guard is just another diversion to draw attention away from what has to be the highest level of incompetence since the “Whoops” fiasco of the early 1980’s.

It is time to bring this nonsense to a screeching halt. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler needs to demand an investigation into the goings on surrounding this project and full accounting of where nearly $150 Million has gone, followed by criminal prosecutions if warranted.

Then let’s start over and draw this out right, design something we actually need, will actually work and is affordable.

Enough is enough!

13 Responses to “CRC and WSDOT: Defending the Indefensible”

  1. The longer citizens try to hold their bile, the more cathartic the removal of elitists from our government will be.
    Does the ruling class have any idea what they are in for?

  2. I knew that was coming – Nancy Boyd whining about the Coast Guard. CRC and WSDOT officials seem to have no sense of responsibility or ownership for their many mistakes. Governor Gregoire apparently has no intention of making these government employees accountable for their errors either. I think a list needs to be made of those who need to be fired. Paula Hammond of WSDOT, Nancy Boyd, and entire CRC staff should be on it. The next Governor of Washington needs to clean house.

    What really boggles my mind is that people continue to write to The Columbian in support of this mess. I don’t know if they’re just stupid or if they’re relatives of those who work at WSDOT, CRC, or David Evans and Associates.

  3. Don’t hold your breath.

  4. As one who has fought for many many years against Bringing Light Rail the Gravy/Crime Train from Portlandia to Vancouver and one who has been to court with the city of Vancouver twice over similar wasteful spending on Boondoggles this gigantic boondoggle has been a conspiracy of lies, deciet, mistruths and may eventually turn out to be some illegal doings. Why Mayor Pollard even called us “the Enemy” beause we had the audacity to raise our voice and question how he wanted to spend our hard earned tax dollars.

    But what is more frightening is the role our elected officials have and continue to play in attempts to deceive those they are sworn to represent.

    Hopefully we will not have to resort to tactics similar to those used by the Occupiers to make our politician aware that it is “We the People” that are paying the bills, Make them understand that The only money they have is what they pick from our pockets and they should spend it carefully.

    And So it Goes

    Larry Patella


  5. As long as you have sheeple in the 49th repeatedly voting these lamebrains into office nothing will change there. So maybe it’s time, as Larry suggests, to start with lawsuits and demonstrations. Nothing short of that seems to get through those thick skulls. I’d contibute to a lawsuit fund and help man the protest line.

  6. As Edmund Burke reminded us, “It is only necessary for the triumph of evil that good men do nothing.”

  7. I have no idea how to go about that. I’d guess that most conservatives wouldn’t know how to organize a demostration as they don’t spend a lot of time protesting about things. I’d be willing to do what I can though.

  8. I would say that most of the people who “continue to write to The Columbian is support of this mess” are nothing more than smartass sockpuppets who get their “jollies” out of pissing people off and starting endless arguments. I doubt most of them really physically exist.

  9. The low clearance is probably due to the inability of “light rail” vehicles to climb a steep grade. Thus, the higher the bridge, the longer the approach for the light rail cars.

    At some point, it becomes difficult to engineer the grades necessary and still allow the crossing rail line to connect efficiently with the existing tracks.

  10. The inabiity of Light Rail The Gravy/Crime Train to climb a steep grage may very well be part of the problem. It does not however excuse CRC’s inability to properly manage our tax dollars. They still get an unsatisfactory for their planning and preparation. The Coast Guard Permit should have been at the top of their “To Do” list.

    And so it goes.

  11. Some clown wrote in a letter to the Columbian that we should pay to move Thompson Metal Fab downriver so the proposed bridge height wouldn’t have to be changed. In addtion to the boneheadedness of that idea, apparently that writer didn’t understand that regardless of Thompson Metal Fab’s location, the Coast Guard says the bridge is too low.

    In addition to that, there is more than one company that has expressed concern over the height of the bridge. There are future industries to consider as well. I still can’t understand how CRC thought they could lower the effective clearance the river has currently without there being a problem now or in the future.

  12. Here’s the best suggestion from a commenter on the Oregonian blog:

    “just switch the signs on the freeways. Redesignate I-205 to I-5 and vice versa. Presto: Canada to Mexico on I-5 with no red light, and it’ll cost just a few thousand dollars to change all the signs and update the official maps”.


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