CRC: No Financial Compensation for Businesses

by lewwaters

Authored and submitted by Professor Robert Dean

Nothing much gets by “The Hounds of Whinerville.” A recent letter from Columbia River Crossing Director, Nancy Boyd, addressed to Shari Hildreth, Deputy District Director to Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, who asked 28 pointed questions on behalf of constituent, Professor Robert Dean, makes it clear that Downtown businesses will not be financially compensated for general loss of access to their establishments or for diminished incomes during 6.3 years (or 5 years or 15 years) of construction on the CRC project. The letter also reveals that the problem was not studied for the $150 million Environmental Impact Statement.

CRC critic, and master “ankle biter,” Larry Patella, likes to ask the rhetorical question: “who is minding the store?” How prescient and appropriate have his observations been when it comes to the impacts of the CRC and light rail on Downtown Vancouver? It turns out that nobody has accounted for the indirect impacts on businesses during 6.3 years of construction.

Nobody?

Didn’t Downtown businesses flock to the City Council with concerns about disruptions to commerce during construction?

Yep!

Didn’t the City pass resolution M3663 back in July 7, 2008 instructing the CRC to study “possibly severe” disruptions to commerce during construction of the bridge, I-5, light rail and the three parking garages?

Yep!

Didn’t Resolution M3663 Attachment A Page 11 also make it a condition of approval of the Locally Preferred Alternative that residents and businesses must receive “financial aid” to compensate them for indirect effects of construction? After all, isn’t 6.3 years an awfully long time to try to conduct a business in a construction zone?

Yep!

So, they are looking out for us.

Nope!

It looks like Resolution M3663 was just window dressing to keep people quiet until the light rail boosters could approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and get that all important Record of Decision.

It worked to a Tee.

Opponents of light rail were mollified by Mayor Leavitt and the City to the effect that the CRC would address all of the “caveats” built-in to Resolution M3663 in the FEIS. The City Manager assigned the transportation director to monitor CRC compliance with Resolution M3663.

However, in the end, they must have decided that it was cheaper and easier to sweep the problem of indirect effects on the human environment under the rug. Think of a triathlon and the swim leg winner fails to round the final buoy. Mayor Leavitt pointed out that he was hearing from lots of folks at the time who were saying “just build it!” It would be expensive and time consuming to fully comply with Resolution M3663.

To alert the public of likely “severe impacts” during construction would also be unthinkable when agency approvals of the FEIS are scheduled for just a few months away. Someone must have decided to simply run the FEIS past a sleepy City Council June 27, 2011 at a workshop .

The councilors had an advance copy of the unpublished FEIS and presumably they had each lightly perused its contents. The general public had no such copy. The city transportation director and high level CRC staff breezed through a 2 hour synopsis of the unpublished FEIS.

Only councilors Jeanne Stewart and Larry Smith thought to ask about people who might be harmed by the CRC (around the 1 hour mark). Staff explained that every single Economic Justice person would be accommodated. They spent some time explaining how direct impacts would be fully compensated to the nth degree under the Uniform Act. They completely skirted the issue of compensation for indirect effects, especially during construction of the CRC project.

You might be wondering why the City Council would hold a 2 hour workshop on a matter that the Mayor had insisted for a year, especially during Citizens Communications, was not city business. Well, the Mayor might have misspoken.

Several members of the Council sit on the agency boards of C-Tran and RTC. They will need guidance, or if you’re Jeanne Stewart, orders, on how to vote on approval of the unpublished FEIS. The Mayor asked for a show of nodding heads (at the 2 hour mark) of all those in favor of approving the unpublished FEIS and pronounced unanimous consent.

Wait a minute. Isn’t it illegal to take an action without also taking public input? Councilor Jeanne Stewart thought that was the law (see Miller v. City of Tacoma, 979 P. 2d 429 – Wash: Supreme Court 1999). No matter, the City Consigliere, Ted Gathe, ruled otherwise. He explained that they do this sort of thing all the time (around the 2 hour mark).

Several weeks later, C-Tran and RTC approved the unpublished FEIS. This time they took uninformed public testimony in the absence of a published FEIS for citizens to review. 6 weeks later, they published the FEIS so that those unprivileged members of the general public could see that the CRC had not studied indirect impacts after all.

Too late! As the light rail boosters gleefully crowed, the Record of Decision was signed December 7, 2011.

But is it too late?

The Mayor and other elected light rail boosters have been touting future “jobs and prosperity.” No benefits can come until the project is completed. In the meantime, the constituents of these politicians are the ones who will be going bankrupt during construction of the project. Nobody has heard from them, yet.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart once said, “The closer we get to something real, the harder it’s going to get, because the devil’s in the details.” If you are a business owner or if you live in the project influence area, or even if you can see that you will be harmed in any way by the CRC, call your elected representatives now.

Tell them you’ve seen the Devil up close.

CRC – no significant impacts

CRC 2-2-12 – indirect costs follow up

CRC 2-15-12 – response to Shari Hildreth

CRC 4-18-12 – indirect costs followup response from crc

54 Responses to “CRC: No Financial Compensation for Businesses”

  1. Let us also not forget the impact on apartments and of course the impact of about $40,000,000 a year being spent on tolls and not, food, housing, entertainment, travel by the people of Clark County. Last time I asked that wasn’t is there either.

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  2. I met with the CRC staff and continue to attend the RTC meetings. The staff is very proficient at running fuzzy numbers out there in a power point presentation in an effort to make everybody feel good about blowing up our community both economically and environmentally. I told them all along that their math and plan stunk. A simple trip to downtown Portland will show the most niave person the effects of long term construction and transportation routing directly into a district on a permanent basis. The businesses we now have downtown will go broke. There is routing in the plan that permanently forces businesses to accept deliveries between 2 and 4 a.m. only! DOWNTOWN’S NEW FUTURE MOTTO: SIX PLUS YEARS FROM THE DAY THEY START THIS PROJECT OUR FINANCIAL LIVES WILL BE HELL! Identity Clark County is promoting this as they are lobbying for the billions for their clients, the CRC PAC and the downtown business association is seeming to be gullible enough to buy into this nightmare. Years later it will not get better just visit downtown Portland and look at all the empty store fronts. When people change their habits and form new comfort zones they will not easily change back just because your mess is over.

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  3. By the way Lew… Excellent piece of work here!!
    Thanks.

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  4. All credit goes to Robert Dean on this one, Carolyn.

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  5. I’ve gotten into multiple on-line pissing wars with proponents of light-rail lately (one who even mysteriously parachuted in from 3000 miles away), but they never really want to address the fundamental unfairness of ramming the progressive high-density Portland-cloning light-rail agenda down the throats of Clark County citizens. Why is it fair or appropriate that these citizens, many of whom chose Clark County, WA (and probably spent a lot on $ in so doing) over Portland, OR now have to be shoe-horned into this travesty, without a vote, and have their lives and businesses disrupted in the process? Is there nothing that can be done to stop this runaway time-bomb?

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  6. When will people wake up that this boondoggle is of no economic benefit to Vancouver or Clark County?

    All it will do is provide 3 free parking garages, at Clark County taxpayer expense, for people to get a Clark County taxpayer subsidized light rail system to go spend their money in Portland’s shops and businesses.

    It brings no jobs to Clark County or Vancouver, beyond those who will be brought in from outside the region to build the monster.

    All it will do is drain more of our economic resources for Portland to waste on their socialist dreams.

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  7. “All it will do is provide 3 free parking garages, at Clark County taxpayer expense, for people to get a Clark County taxpayer subsidized light rail system to go spend their money in Portland’s shops and businesses.”

    Actually Lew the whole thing is so ill-conceived that I doubt you will even see very much of that. Most folks in Vancouver city limits don’t live very near the core, and it’s hard to imagine many resident of, say, Fisher’s Landing or the new high-growth areas near 192nd driving all the way into downtown, through what will probably be several traffic bottlenecks, just so they can park in a bunker and take the train. Sure they’ll do it once or twice since it will be a novelty, but that will get old quickly. So unless the other half of the Leavitt & Company agenda, bringing a bunch of East German Bauhaus-style apartment buildings down there also happens, it’s probably less of an issue.

    But it is just a real shame that we waste money on this crap instead of spending the equivalent on making Clark County as attractive as possible to all the businesses that are thinking about leaving California, Oregon, and other business- unfriendly states for greener pastures.

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  8. I look at it like it’s an Elitist “tantrum”. The morons that have run Vancouver for years worked their butts off to kill downtown and they finally succeeded. Downtown is dead and it will very likely stay that way. Now morons have decided that they will “revive” downtown Vancouver by bankrupting everybody in Clarke County with stupid downtown “projects”.

    You will notice that the wild-assed ideas about choo-choo trains, riverfront development, busses, bikes, and pedestrian walkways are essentially the same as you will find in Peetown across the drainage ditch.

    So here’s what the “deal” is: Downtown Vancouver was deliberately killed so as to bring Peetown across the creek and shove it up your rear-end. No more “Vancouver”, we’ll all just be living in another neighborhood of Peetown.

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  9. Today is the last day to sign the light rail petition to put citizens in this conversation.
    Must be registered voter in the city limits of Vancouver to sign and not signed before June 2011.
    Feel free to call if need a petition to sign. 606-2098

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  10. Lew, let me give a shout out to three of our warriors: Margaret Tweet, Carolyn Crain, and Jim Karlock. They were there on the front lines the evening that the CRC approved the unpublished FEIS. How frustrating it must have been for them to witness our elected representatives giving our OK to a secret document.

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  11. Excuse me, I meant C-Tran approved the secret, unpublished, CRC FEIS document.

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  12. This is an excellent article on some of the tactics used that are causing a slide into a style of governance that Orwell so chillingly predicted. What part does public media play? Is it truly the fourth estate, capable of independent assessment or complicit in muddying the waters?
    I am in Australia but these unedifying strategies are becoming increasingly common here.

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  13. Great piece of writing here Mr. Dean, and your links back to City Council videos are excellent.

    I’m convinced this project will never be built, mainly because neither “The Feds”, Washington or Oregon have the money they need to throw at this just to get it started. Oregonians are up in arms about spending anything on what they refer to as “Clark County’s commuter problem” and Vancouver politicos are desperate to avoid asking the voters for permission to do anthing because they know they will be turned down flat. And now even the Army Corps of Engineers has weighed in that 95′ clearance is inadequate for them too.

    But the 800 pound gorilla in the room is: Why was the bridge designed with only 95′ of clearance in the first place??

    My guess, although I cannot prove it, is because the loot rail trains cannot climb the grade of a higher bridge and still land in Downtown Vancouver and on Hayden Island. It is the same reason San Francisco has cable cars. At some point the CRCP is going to be forced to come clean on what is really going on down there. They cannot continue to receive taxpayer funds and pretend that all of these problems don’t exist, or that they will somehow be magically “mitigated” away. This is something I would love to see Jim Karlock look into, because he has an amazing knack for finding facts and figures that refute most aspects of light rail. Somewhere there are design guidelines that provide the maximum slope an electric traction train can climb on any given bridge, and if anyone can locate that data, it is Jim Karlock.

    Patty Murray has a request in for another $39 Million for the CRCP to continue the “planning”, but until they drop the loot rail completely, I don’t think there is any way to build the project can or will ever be built, and even then it is an open question whether either State could afford it even then.

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  14. Bob – Do you remember when Tim was FIRST elected as Mayor, Royce and him (after he took office?) wanted the bridge LOWER because they felt it was too high? I think this was in 2009 or so. They were talking about the park underneath…

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  15. I think Bob is right.

    The whole thing needs a complete reset.

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  16. Good points, Sharon. It’s amazing how far the Media in America has gone from being the watchdog of our freedoms to being complicit in the march to our serfdom. Australia is also good example as is “merry olde England” another.

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  17. Sharon, thanks for your astute observations and best of everything for your book launch tomorrow arvo http://roundtablewriting.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/launching-alien-shores/

    One of my colleagues, Cambridge professor, Bent Flyvbjerg, wrote the seminal works on Megaprojects (such as the Sydney Opera House). He said, “The question has to be asked whether a government can act effectively as both promoter of a project, and the guardian of public interest issues such as protection of the environment, safety and of the taxpayer against unnecessary financial risks. The answer is negative.”

    The problem is pervasive and worldwide. In Australia, you use the term “rort” to describe the phenomenon that we here just take in stride. Sure, we will prosecute criminal corruption and even levy fines for ethical lapses, but a rort is more a systemic failure not quite rising to the level (or sinking to the depths) of high crimes and misdemeanors while in office. Perhaps, that’s why I’m so fascinated with the CRC in Vancouver, Washington – it’s a microcosm of a nationwide, and even universal, systemic failure of government to truly represent the interests of its constituents while enriching a few.

    It is not a partisan issue, either. This blog is a good source of information for conservatives in Clark County; but we’re not all Republicans. In Oregon, most of the opposition to the CRC is coming from Democrats and liberals. I guess, when something stinks it is offensive to all noses.

    You asked about the media. In Clark County, the newspaper of record is the Columbian. The owners of the Columbian sit on the same boards and commissions that answer to the same moguls who cultivate the politicians that we get to choose amongst. It’s not that the reporters at the Columbian lack curiosity or that the publishers dictate editorial policy; it’s more that the reporters and editors instinctively realize which side of their bread is buttered.

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  18. What is even more insane here is that this is just the beginning of the lite-rail infiltration into our community. The plans albeit 16 years in the works are for this to continue in time out to Hazel Dell and over to east county via Mill Plain. The BRT and lite-rail have been in Tim’s project list since at least 2004. I have a copy of a document he signed 8 years ago regarding vetting the funding and taxing issues for these two back then as the incoming chair for the C-tran board. Now he is saying 8 years later that none of this has been done? All the while we keep spending $2 million per month on the CRC planning? What other places could $24 million go per year down here at home and local? Tom Mielke tried to put a stop to the spending but to no avail. Chuck over at C-tran has been tasked with the BRT project and his propaganda presentation is fraught with bogus dollars and ridership numbers even going so far as to leave out most of the capital expenditures that are required to make this happen. He even based his math on buses that noone has selected designs of or taken bids on. When I spoke to him on Tuesday about the fact that our “growth” is shrinking not increasing thus his numbers are a bubble ready to burst he simply said he disagrees. No facts to prove his theory just opinion. No business can operate using a financial plan that has no accurate numbers only supposition. Heck they couldn’t even get a loan!

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  19. Some Good news! U.S. DOT received 26-28 project requests for TIFIA funds. Last week, the decision was made as to who would receive those funds. With a project request of $35M, CRC’s poorly conceived and executed plan for the I-5 Bridge was not one of the five projects that moved forward. It seems as we are not the only ones who have issues with CRC’s Portland Light rail project.

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  20. Correction: Not $35M, $3M. However, TIFIA funds allow states to leverage those funds. Please read the quote from “Fast Lane”, The official Blog from the U.S. Secretary of Transportatin. “States and local governments use the TIFIA assistance to get even more bang for their buck, leveraging the initial funds to secure access to capital markets, flexible repayment terms, and lower interest rates. Each dollar of Federal funds can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and leverage $30 in transportation infrastructure investment.”

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  21. By the way, if you oppose boondoggle Public Transportation projects, you’re a racist. But you probably already knew that 🙂

    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/13/the_tea_partys_war_on_mass_transit/

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  22. ANY opposition to any leftwing agenda makes one a “racist,” Tom 😉

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  23. I know that you did not mean that Tom but I should tell you that I am so far from racist its not funny. I do have “terms” I call myself…
    Always Carolyn, & sometimes sister, mom, grandma, aunt, daughter, boss, friend, wife, citizen, woman and lady are all appropriate. Advocate, gardener, cook, housekeeper, baker, family financial planner, advisor, volunteer, speaker, and patriot also come to mind but… never racist just opinionated! lol
    By the way you are welcome to join me… minus the lady/woman I’m sure!

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  24. Tom was indicating that liberals call us racist for whatever we do that they disagree with, which is just about everything we do 😉

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  25. I know and I am inviting them to flip over to our side of who we really are.
    Do you think a liberal can do that Lew?

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  26. Some are coming to see we aren’t the evil creatures we have been out to be, but very few so far.

    You have to remember, younger liberals have had a lifetime of indoctrination into the liberal mind set.

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  27. Yeah, that’s the challenge. I remember when my son came home from high school about 17 years ago and told me the holocaust was a myth perpetrated on us by our government. I came unglued and had a long discussion and a few field trips, aka vacations to some places that are to say the least not at all mythical. The process of changing his school was a little more difficult but achievable back then. It is so much harder now, home schooling is almost the only answer. Even my younger sister gets a little lost in the midst of her conservative and christian values vs. her career in the school district up there in Olympia. I have to work to keep the fog cleared from her brain. My son is afraid we have already lost our country to the socialist but I keep telling him “not as long as I am still breathing”. Then I tell him to have another kid so we have a good senator in the future! lol

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  28. I sent an inquiry to my congressman (Earl Blumenauer D-OR) regarding the chances of the CRC landing the $39 million appropriation it has its sights set on.

    “Thanks for contacting our office Ron. Basically the $39 Million is part the President’s Budget, which is just a budget recommendation and has to be passed by Congress (which is hasn’t yet). This is based on existing transportation programs, which New Starts is a part of. As far as the New Starts program being part of the transportation reauthorization being debated right now in Congress, New Starts will continue as a program if the reauthorization passes so the President’s recommendation would not change. However, the $39 Million is part of the larger New Starts appropriations package that has not passed Congress yet. Additionally, assuming the larger New Starts appropriation does pass Congress, the CRC project has to meet a series of benchmarks from the Federal Transit Administration to receive the funds in fiscal year 2013.
    Ree Armitage

    We got word yesterday that the CRC is out of the running at least for this year in receiving a Transportation Infrastructure and Funding Investment Act loan. Just as with New Starts money there is still no new Congressional appropriation for 2012. We will have to see if it gets money for 2013—when and if a bill passes. Projects can be standing in qeue for a few years at least waiting for these funds. However, since optimism springs eternal, I think they will forge ahead with whatever money they can get for now, either federal or state, and hope to a sizable appropriation in the future.

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  29. The Oregonian just put up their Sunday front page story on their website.

    Columbia River Crossing needs $900 million from Washington and Oregon, but how to raise it remains elusive

    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/05/columbia_river_crossing_needs.html

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  30. So I say…
    The beat goes on…. and so does it seems the ability of the CRC to bilk taypaers in Clark County out of their money to the tune of $2 million a month! When will they listen to Tom Mielke and stop the CRC funding?

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  31. Bob Koski, I was interested in your comment a few weeks ago that the anti light rail petition which now has enough signatures will simply be sidestepped by the Vancouver City Council. So was it an exercise in futility—other than just making more people aware of the issue?

    But, knowing how determinedly contractors go after government contracts (which almost never split town leaving you unpaid, as in the private sector) I can see the CRC people still wringing out more money for themselves from somewhere. Thanks for your lead to the Oregonian story. Here is what I wrote:
    “Garrett points out driving reductions haven’t alleviated the chronic congestion on the existing I-5 bridges over the Columbia River. Population growth will make it even worse. Congestion has become an obstacle to freight haulers as well as a safety issue, which makes the CRC a necessity, he said.”

    Earth to Matt: I think you have answered your own previous unqualified support for the CRC.

    First,
    The real reason is not present congestion; it is future population growth, which we really don’t need. It’s what our liberal political class and planners want so they can continue on their path to their urban utopia scheme.

    Secondly, the long haul freight haulers will be a long term problem, for which we need long term solutions: either improved rail freight (which will go through the central eastside, producing another consternation for the utopians) or another way to go around the downtown core, such as on a westside bypass route. On this, we might be able to find some middle ground between the utopians and plain, economic calculation. See: thirdgebridgenow.com

    “Cars themselves have also changed. Some don’t burn a drop of gas or pay a penny in gas taxes. Others use less, due in part to tougher federal mileage standards. “It’s official government policy to drive down gas tax revenue,” Levinson said. ”

    And this tends to render the “we need to reduce CO2” crowd’s hobby horse for supporting the CRC. METRO states that surface transportation only accounts for 14 percent of local greenhouse gas, so why spend billions on something that only negligibly reduces that? Plus a sizable influx of people, using natural gas appliances or electrical power from fossil fuel sources will push that figure up more than the pursuit of publicly funded transportation projects will push it down. There are better ways to spend those billions. METRO has made some good strides—but the CRC is not one of them.

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  32. The current zoning by the city eliminates the ability of people to have middle class paying jobs, or at least the majority of them. Their own long range planning team admits a need for 2+ incomes per household (make that housing unit since the plans are for high density apartments) and the capacity of employment for 1 job in actuality. An up front admission to the planning for future failure in affordable living environments. Based on their Utopia these people will need lite-rail since they obviously cannot afford the expenses associated with a car. Thus we will live in New York or L.A. with transit and crime and grime and packed tighter than some people’s you know whats. In spite of all that you really need to know that there is no forecasted job growth for decades and the population is really set to actually shrink based on elderly % to population and the 1.2 children to each couple household. Since the zoning will put the squeeze on employment I seriously doubt people will be flocking to our neck of the woods to live and congestion will go down other than that created by trucking which is almost a pass through. With gas taxes being crunched due to higher fuel milage and outrageous prices at the pump the current party in power has done to themselves the same thing they did with the cigarette tax… promise the moon in some form of entitlement and then put the screws to the people who they tax to pay for it until the whole thing collapses from the lack of funding in the shrinking base. Great plans working in great ways again eh? Now how ya gonna pay for it?

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  33. Ron, that the petition drive informed more people about this issue is certainly a good thing, But that particular petition was aimed in the wrong direction from the start, and suffered from a lack of effective management as well. I still believe it had more to do with a couple of narrow personal agendas than the Columbia River Crossing Project. One guy wrote that petition without any input from anyone else, and that is the main reason why it failed.

    To add to your other comments; the Columbia River Crossing is going to depend upon a “variable tolling system” that automatically raises the toll during peak traffic (ie: rush hour); isn’t that a tacit admission by the project that no design will ever ease the traffic?? Why spend all that money on a new bridge if it still requires manipulation of traffic volumes via tolls??

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  34. Bob, variable tolling guarantees that Clark County commuters who work in Portland will pay the lion’s share of the CRC (light rail) costs. Expect an exemption from tolls for Oregon plates.

    https://lewwaters.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/the-adams-doctrine-and-leavitt-corollary/

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  35. Bob, I was interested in your comment a few weeks ago that the anti light rail petition, which now has gathered enough signatures, will not legally bind the Vancouver City Council, in any way. So if that is true it has been a lengthy exercise in futility, except for whatever public opinion it may have stirred up.

    Also, if it is true that federal money is becoming more elusive for the CRC, I will not underestimate the ability of these people to keep wringing money out of somewhere. Particularly when it comes to public funds, contractors latch on like leeches. They know how to work the system.

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  36. Oops! Should have checked the replies. Ignore that, Bob.

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  37. “Expect an exemption from tolls for Oregon plates.”

    Professor, we will have to agree to disagree about that one for several reasons.

    1. There is no way that the State of Oregon is going to just walk away from a share of toll revenue. Whatever revenue those tolls generate, I would count on Oregon figuring that revenue into their calculus on how to raise their share and pay for it.

    2. Even if Oregon tried to exempt Oregon drivers from the toll, the CRCP is still Interstate 5, and the Federal Government will not allow it and would (correctly) block such an effort under the Interstate Commerce clause.

    3. I can’t think of another more effective wedge to drive between Oregon and Washington than an idea like yours. There is no way Washington, Clark County or Vancouver would ever agree to voluntarily give Oregon drivers a break like that and stick the whole bill on everyone else. That is called “discrimination” and the Federal Government would have a thing or three to say about that too..

    4. WSDOT has enough problems identifying Washington license plates on cars that run the tolls. I have not seen any tolling technology under development or in use on any other tolling system that is designed to identify a particular state license plate in order to exempt it from tolls. To do so is counter to what the goal of tolling is supposed to do in the first place. Why on earth would any tolling authority try and figure out a way to exempt anyone??

    And yes Ron, I do believe that particular petition drive was indeed an exercise in futility. It was not directed at any target that could have or would have made one shred of difference, and the City Attorney said as much as soon as the text of that petition was finally released. It was narrowly directed at Vancouver City Council long after they approved the “Locally Preferred Option” and moved on, making that petition a lot more than a day late and many dollars short.

    A more effective approach would have been to emulate what Clackamas County voters are doing right now, and that is signing a petition to put light rail construction on the ballot. They will likely be voting this November on a referendum on light rail in the County, and it is yet to be seen how that vote goes, but it the measure is overwhelmingly approved then Trimet is going to have a very difficult time completing that light rail line through Milwaukee. Employers are up in arms over there right now because Trimet taxes have gone through the roof after being relatively stable for decades, and these people are scared stiff about what this is all going to cost them down the road.

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  38. The problem with the petition here is that it addresses only the city not the C-tran district. Realize that Washington has initiatives and referendums. Unfortunately the initiatives are only available to those living in a chartered municipality. The city qualifies however the county does not nor does the C-tran district. The district board must put it on the ballot since they are the final authority that encompasses the issue, and frankly nothing but the issue. The district board is made up of several elected officials from all over the county which lie within the jurisdictional area of service by C-tran. The county is bigger than C-tran’s district and those who do not live inside the boundaries do not supposedly (don’t count shopping inside the district) pay for the system, nor do they get service from it thus they have no voice. The rest of the problem is completely within the cities control since they are three members of the nine member board and for some crazy reason the policy as it were of the board is to allow a group of three from the county commissioners or the city to block veto any move. Get rid of the block veto and you solve the problem which should be an interesting attempt in light of the fact that it works so well for the city goals and control therefore I am sure they would use its power to block any attempt to remove it. Mayor Leavitt, Larry Smith, Jack Burkman, Jeanne Harris are the names to remember in this fiasco. Bart Hansen is a yes boy for the city policy rather than a good strong official standing on his own so he always votes the way the council majority says. If you get rid of these socialist progressive liberals from the council you will make drastic improvements all across our county far beyond the defined lines of the city boundary.

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  39. Well put Carolyn, and my original idea about an effective petition drive was to have a petition drive to recall a few Council Critters. Jeanne Harris and Bart Hansen come directly to mind because I think both of them are in the poorest financial condition to oppose a well organized and focused recall effort.

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  40. Bob, the CRC is already skewed heavily in favor of Oregon. Most of the $2 billion in highway improvements is on the Oregon side of the river with Delta Park and raising the North Portland bridge to meet the grade for light rail. Now, they’re subtracting interchange improvements from the Washington side to make the total costs more palatable for Oregon.

    Tolling is a ploy to extract money from Washington to pay to fix Oregon’s problems. Tolling is called a “user fee.” 70% of the traffic is local Washington based traffic. We are the users – we pay the fees. Variable tolling doubles down on that. Besides, who said we have to pay another “local contribution?” Didn’t we already pay user fees like gas taxes and license tabs, etc?

    Here’s what will happen: Initially, we will pay $4 each way to work in Portland. Oregonians will pay $1.00 each way (travelling against peak hour traffic) to work in Vancouver. Trucks will cross during off peak hours and they will pay the same as cars – $1.00. Motor cycles will pay $0.50 and hybrid and electric cars will be free.

    Shoppers from Portland will quickly learn to come across only during the $1.00 toll periods – most will not even come then (because of uncertainty about the times, not having a transponder, uncertainty about the costs and how to pay the toll, or resentment at having to pay a toll on what used to be a freeway). Clark County merchants will immediately notice a drop off in business. They will run screaming to the Washington Legislature, as they have done for years with the sales tax, and insist on toll freedom for Oregonians. It will be granted (after all, what Oregonians contribute is already a small fraction of what Washingtonians contribute toward the “local contribution”).

    Traffic and revenue predictions will fail. Traffic will drop 30-40% and revenues will fall 50% short.

    Click to access OST%20Reveiw%20of%20Columbia%20River%20Crossing%20Finance%20Plan%20-%20FINAL.PDF

    We will not be able to meet our bond obligations. We will have no choice but to raise the toll on Clark County commuters to $8 each way. That will cause even more people to divert, or not make the trip, or move to Gresham, or bankrupt the community, and we will have to raise the toll again. As Larry says, “And so it goes.”

    Fortunately, Ann Rivers is aware of this problem. I sent her copies of my correspondence with Jaime. She sits on the Washington Transportation committee. She has predicated future funding of the CRC on an investment grade tolling study that looks at the true cost of the CRCP to our community. Please give her your thanks and support.

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  41. Recalls in Washington state are only allowed with verifiable proof of malfeasance. Short of a conviction for a felony it will not happen. We have to work harder to elect people who will hold true to an ethical higher ground and the right of the people to vote.

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  42. It seems all of this has been overcome by events today, as the Columbian is reporting that the CRC was just turned down for $1 Billion loan until both Oregon and Washington get their collective acts together and come up with the $800 Million the States need to prove they have before any Federal money is disbursed.

    Figure the odds on either state coming up with $400 million to start the Columbia Crossing Project…

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  43. Bob, we are not overcome by events. Not as long as a few of us have the courage to speak up and stand in the breach. If it weren’t for people like you, Lew, David Madore, Sharon Nasset, Carolyn Crain, Debbie Peterson, Margaret Tweet, Larry Patella, Mike and Josephine Wentzell, Steve Herman, K.J. Hinton, Ron Swaren, Jim Karlock and others to whom I now apologize, who have taken the arrows, we would already be making payments on the $1.4 billion local contribution.

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  44. Not what I meant Professor. I mean the entire CRCP looks to be overcome by events.

    As I understand it, and the reporting on this has been slim and single sourced to date, the financial package of the CRC just went out the window, with word that the project was not approved for a $1 Billion dollar loan, not a grant, or series of grants.

    What seems to be lost here is that the massive lie that “The Feds will build (insert your infrastructure here)” has finally been exposed. “The Feds” aren’t going to pay for a damned thing; but they will be glad to facilitate a loan to the project if and when Oregon and Washington prove they have $800 Million in cash secured beforehand.

    I’m waiting for Joe Conason, Jim Karlock or anyone else who has been mashing the numbers to show what this all means in real time. The Party Line seems to be “better luck next year” which tells me that the effort to batter down the door will continue no matter what. The attention on the BRT feeder down Fourth Plain is an attempted distraction, and that project falls completely apart if there is no Loot Rail to feed. Never mind that the City of Vancouver or C-Tran can come up with the 30% matching money to build BRT.

    As always, it comes down to money, and without dedicated funding from Oregon and Washington, there will be no money from “The Feds” and the project should be DOA at that point. Doesn’t mean it goes away, but no funding will effectively end it for a while.

    And I apologize for the hit and miss postings. I have a large project underway at the moment and it takes up a lot of my time….

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  45. It would OK if this turkey ends with a thud rather than a bang – but only if that also means an end to the “leakage” of millions each year for “studies” and the rest of the Leavitt & Company agenda. I’d bet that will require ballot action too.

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  46. The BRT is completely linked to the lite-rail but that will not stop the city from attempting to push its way through the entie thing. I listened today as a comment was made by Jeff Hamm and a member of the Expert Review Panel that perhaps the city could look internally for its funding and take the LRT on all by itself without C-tran involvement! Better plan to move to avoid those sales taxes, eh? Of course that isn’t possible because the state laws regulate the amount of debt that a city can obtain to a direct % of its’ land value. They are too close to that cap now. The only way they could open that up is if they incorporate more of the urban growth boundary into the city. That requires a vote of the residents in that area. So I say vote NO! But look for it to happen since the city is hell bent on spending.

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  47. Proud to be on the same page with you Bob. Thanks for the clarification. It’s not the first time I’ve been off base.

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  48. Carolyn, I know you follow this a lot more closely than I do, so let me pose a few questions here and see what you can tell us.

    I understand that the BRT system being presented has a preliminary price tag of between $55 and $70 Million dollars. As it was presented to City Council, the governing assumption is that “The Feds will pay” for 70% and the rest would be local. That 30% share means the City would have to cough up between $16.5 and $21 Million in construction funding, and that number does not include servicing the debt.

    Have you heard any discussion about how the City or C-Tran thinks they can fund BRT?? I’ve also heard that the City is close to the maximum amount they can borrow (by law). What’s the scoop on that, and what does that say about the ability of the City to deal with any emergency??

    I’ve heard that the BRT system being proposed includes the use of tandem buses, essentially twice as long as the buses we have now (that’s one reason why you need new infrastructure, they don’t fit the old bus stops any better than the current buses do) just like you see in Seattle. Electric?? Diesel?? Any word on what it will cost to operate this marvel??

    How many of those tandem buses are included in the BRT package?? And how long can they keep BRT floating along waiting for funding?? The CRCP has zero financing for the project itself, but they still manage to spend a million dollars a month down there anyway. Is that what we have to look forward to with BRT?? Are we doomed to watch Chuck Green grow old and retire from the project in disgust 20 years from now?? Who is paying his salary??

    What really slays me is the insane focus by Vancouver City Council to try and force people on the East side to come Downtown for some other reason than to get a permit. There is an enormous new apartment complex that just broke ground up along the exploding 192nd corridor that is going to have thousands of people living in it in just a couple of years. With rush hour traffic all along the SR 14 corridor getting worse by the day along with I-205 that doesn’t have anywhere near the problems I-5 has, it would make more sense if C-Tran were looking at expanding express bus service from Fisher’s Landing transit center, and planning another larger transit center for 192nd and SR 14. It makes zero sense and is textbook “magical thinking” to believe anyone is going to ride a bus from 192nd all the way down Fourth Plain, to transfer to loot rail at Clark College, and then cruise down Interstate Avenue at 30 MPH to the Rose Quarter….

    The point is that Vancouver City Council and C-Tran are attempting to use transit systems in the classic way: as a tool to stimulate growth where it currently is not taking place. The problem is that there really is growth taking place all by itself in the private sector and in a couple of years there really will be a transit mess on the East side, which is another reason why it makes no sense to spend $10 Billion on the CRCP when the money needs to go elsewhere. (For example, the City has been patching the same pothole in front of my house for five years…)

    I dunno Carolyn. I see the City going out of their way to arrange Federal and State grants for every shiny bauble under the sun, and when it comes down to it the obligations made by the City of Vancouver are ultimately underwritten by the residents who own homes and businesses, and it is their property that will ultimately fund any mistakes that are made on our behalf or in our names. That’s what scares me about all of this nonsense: the prospect of being slammed by a special levy on my home some day to pay the bills for Tim Leavitt, Larry Smith, Bart Hansen and crew, long after they have moved on to bigger things.

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  49. Okay that was a lot of questions and concerns so I will try to respond to each in as concise a format as possible.
    The price tag for BRT is as yet not quite defined. It is again a “dream” without all the detail work having been properly vetted. The articulated buses have varying costs and the actual amount of those capital purchases has not been determined since they haven’t picked a model yet. As far as the O & M around these buses are concerned that math is equally fuzzy since the C-Tran people are basing their costs on overhauls and giving these things a 12 to 16 year lifespan when in fact the lifespan is more in the neighborhood of 5 years as stated by the Expert Review Panel yesterday.
    The entire project analysis for BRT is based on connecting lines with LRT and that has not been approved either. Add the fact that the road changes for stops and driveway alterations will need to be completely overhauled at who knows what expense since no stops have been actually formally plotted and no bus length has been finalized there is no actual way to give you an answer as to the real cost of BRT. I can tell you that the feds have been offering 50% of the capital expenditures not 70-80% in the last decade. All the numbers which were presented as being so “firm” and believable by Chuck Green were based on this information. I can also tell you that Chuck Green is, I believe anyway, a C-tran employee working under Jeff Hamm. They are alot alike in that they both like pie charts and base info on numbers that are unsubstantiated yet difficult to pin down since the pie chart scenario doesn’t include real dollars just percentages. They also double the numbers in their sales pitch putting savings in one category and spending it in another will not deleting it from the first. They commit to keeping and adding bus services with this savings but if you dig a little deeper you see that they eliminate the number of services on the 4 and 44 when they put in BRT. They commit to keeping the express buses to downtown but when they crunch the numbers for LRT most of the lines that go into downtown Portland are gone or reduced to connecting up to the LRT system.
    They base all this BRT stuff on the “fact” that they can get 5-6,000 people out of their cars to take the new buses thus adding to their fare box revenue and creating a negative cost to the public. So a route that goes from downtown Vancouver up Ft Vancouver Way and east up Fourth Plain to Van Mall will produce NEW riders. I am supposed to drive my car a mile to the mall’s park and ride and then catch a bus to go into downtown in order to complain to the city at council meetings about their flagrant waste of my money! It is only 4 1/2 miles to the city hall in the first place and including parking takes me 8 minutes at the most to get there. Why would I give up riding part of the way in my already paid for car which I still need to insure and maintain?
    I hope this answers some of your questions even though they are mostly non-answers, which I hate, that is as close as I can get with the non-facts that are available to the public at this time.

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  50. Magical thinking does seem to be their forte. Meanwhile, they just can’t afford to repair the giant potholes here along Evergreen Highway.

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  51. Thought I might write one last piece. Robert you did well… And to the others who posted in the comments, please use your voice and ability to write some other great pieces. I feel our community has lost a lot of great voice…..

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