“We Can’t Afford the Local Contribution.” A Conversation Between Robert Dean and Mayor Tim Leavitt

by lewwaters


Presented in whole by request and as sent to me by Robert Dean:

From: Robert Dean

Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 8:07 AM

To: Leavitt, Tim

Cc: Smith, Larry; Holmes, Eric; Burkman, Jack; Harris, Jeanne; Stewart, Jeanne;

Hansen, Bart; Turlay, Bill

Subject: Funding for light rail – we can’t afford the local contribution

In the Columbian – “The project expects the federal government to contribute the $850 million needed to build the line.”

Sound enticing? Not if it’s going to cost us, the local community, Clark County taxpayers a minimum of $2.6 billion to get that $850 million from the feds (gas tax money we have already paid).

Tolls are slated to pay for the $1.4 billion local contribution. According to the CRC here we will have to pay $2.6 billion (46%) in tolls in order to raise the $1.4 billion principal on the bonds. Note, that does not include interest at 5% over 30 years, operation and maintenance of the bridge, highway and light rail system, cost overruns (usually 30%), and the fact that Oregon wants to raise its share ($750 million plus interest) with a TIFIA loan paid back by Clark County commuters with tolls.

“A TIFIA loan of $704 to $833 million, repaid from I-5 toll revenues, would substantially reduce the need for state-backed G.O. bonds and limit the exposure of each state’s General Fund to the project, while restoring project funding by $194 to $238 million”

bringing the total local contribution from us, here in Clark County, closer to $8 billion. Do you think Clark County taxpayers should spend their next $8 billion dollars on Tim Leavitt’s pet light rail project?

I don’t.


How CRC Toll Revenues Would Be Used

Toll Revenue and Fees

Potential Toll Revenue  91%

‘Pay-by-Plate’ Fee Revenue      9%

Total Potential Revenue 100%

Uses of Revenue

Credit Card Fees        3%

Toll Collection Operations and Maintenance      23%

Facility Operations and Maintenance     1%

Uncollectable Tolls     5%

Net Revenue Available for Debt Service  69%

•       Debt Service (Principle & Interest Payments) 54%

•       Debt Service Coverage* 15%

Total Uses of Revenue   100%

Note: Total may not add to 100 percent due to rounding

Robert Dean

—– Original Message —–

From: “Leavitt, Tim” <tim.leavitt@cityofvancouver.us>

Sent: Mon, June 11, 2012 8:35

Subject: RE: Funding for light rail – we can’t afford the local contribution

Hey…Robert Dean…all the way from North Carolina!

Thanks much for making my point that, although this project is necessary, it’s understandably expensive. And why is it expensive? Because bringing five miles of interstate highway into the 20 century (a task that should have occurred decades ago) is a large infrastructure project (albeit not nearly the largest infrastructure project going in the Country).

I find it fascinating that you don’t seem to have a grasp on the costs of infrastructure investment, as well as the disastrous state of infrastructure in our Country, given that you have some background in the construction business. You might want to visit the American Society of Civil Engineers website (www.asce.org) and read-up on the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. It’s tragic that our Country has fallen so far behind and that is beginning to impact our global economic competitiveness — whether roads, bridges, energy, or port infrastructure — all are vital to economic vitality, which equates to jobs for our family and neighbors.

The dividends and payback to SW Washington businesses and employment rates far outweighs the costs, as has been demonstrated over and over in many locations throughout our Country and around the world. Safe, efficient infrastructure is a benefit to everybody — whether traveling in automobiles, hauling freight, riding in public transit, or via heavy rail.

Your argument about the cost of doing what is necessary does not in any way address the fact that the improvements are needed. What we CANNOT afford is 15 hours of traffic congestion, increasing rates of accidents due to the antiquated interchanges and bridge geometry, the ongoing and unnecessary pollution of our Columbia River and our air shed, and the desertion of our Community by existing businesses and potential new businesses because I-5 becomes a parking lot.

Anyway, hope all is well for you on the East Coast.



PS — By the way, I don’t have time for pets.

Timothy D. Leavitt| Mayor


Mayor/City Manager’s Office

P.O. Box 1995 • Vancouver, WA 98668-1995

P: 360.487.8729 | F: 360.487.8625



Subject:RE: Funding for light rail – we can’t afford the local contribution

From:”Robert Dean”

Date:Mon, June 11, 2012 12:13To:”Leavitt, Tim”

Cc:”Smith, Larry”

“Holmes, Eric”

“Burkman, Jack”

“Harris, Jeanne”

“Stewart, Jeanne”

“Hansen, Bart”

“Turlay, Bill”


Thank you for the courtesy of your response. Yes, I now reside in North Carolina and love it here. I moved here to be with my daughter and grandkids. The climate reminds me a lot of Sydney.

I know you are trying to model civility so I won’t remind you that you used to welcome outsiders to Citizen Communications by saying something like “thank you for coming all the way from Portland” and left off “…and telling us how to run our business.” Well, I do remind people that I still own businesses and properties in Clark County, I have a lot of friends in Clark County, and I care about the economy and future of Clark County.

If you have been paying attention to what I, and my friends, have been saying for the last several years your mind would be set to ease that we are not at all anti-infrastructure. We all have been advocating adding capacity to the I-5/I-205 corridor from the get-go. We know the potential benefits to adding capacity just as you once did when you and Steve Stuart argued with our friends on the other side of the river and lost.

There will be no capacity increase with the CRC because Mayor Adams said “No tolls, no bridge.”

Yes, you lost that argument. You should have said, “No added capacity, no bridge.” But, instead, you said “That’s OK as long as we get light rail.” That’s why I call it Tim Leavitt’s pet light rail project.

Tim, indeed I do understand that infra-structure is expensive. Nobody has explained to me why we have to pay a local contribution when we’ve already paid gas taxes. Nobody has explained why we have to pay a local contribution of $8 billion and the feds are only kicking in $1.2 billion. Nobody has explained why Oregon wants to steal the tolls on Clark County commuters to pay its share and pay back its TIFIA loan. Nobody has explained to me why we are spending $3.5 billion on a bridge that can be built for $300 million. Nobody has explained why they couldn’t retrofit the old historic bridge for seismic safety, leave it in place with a 45 mph speed limit, and build a parallel tollway upstream or downstream; unless, of course, this project is all about extending light rail into Clark County.

Nobody has explained why the leadership of a chamber of commerce, made up of the leaders of engineering and construction firms, and their attorneys and accountants, unilaterally endorsed the CRC without consulting the membership, many of whom will go bankrupt during 6.3 years of construction.

Nobody has explained to me why we are building three humongous parking garages and a shuttle service for employees of Portland businesses.

Nobody has explained to me why light rail is a good buy at $8 billion. Especially as no one has even wondered if Clark County has $8 billion to spend for our local contribution – let alone vote on it (only CTran offered a vote of the people as a condition of approval of the Locally Preferred Alternative).

We all know how ditsy the California government is typically. Even they asked the voters before they launched themselves into the idiotic bullet train project that no one will use.

Vancouver? No, we sold the farm to Sam Adams and agreed to pay $8 billion local contribution for a light rail that will carry a few people who don’t mind spending 50 minutes to get from Clark College to PSU, if that’s where they want to go and when they want to get there. No vote.

Tim, Jack, Larry, Bart, Jeanne H., excuse me for being blunt, you made a stupid decision – it’s not too late to cut our losses.

Kind regards!

Robert Dean

25 Comments to ““We Can’t Afford the Local Contribution.” A Conversation Between Robert Dean and Mayor Tim Leavitt”

  1. Mere facts will never dissuade these jokers – that’s why we need new blood at the local and regional level. Hope that’s even possible in the heart of the 49th. If not we’re in big trouble.

  2. And of course we just found out that they cannot start construction for (wait for it)…two more years!

    There is no sign at all that either Oregon or Washington has a cogent plan to even begin to raise a portion of these funds, and when Obama and what remains of the Democrat Party go screaming down in flames this November, mayor Progressive will be completely out of friends with other people’s money in their deep pockets.

    The real answer is to term limit Leavitt. Until he and the rest of his buddies on council are voted out this nonsense will never stop.

  3. I’d be curious to see what other regions think of the CRC project. My guess would be that its the laughing stock of the country among groups who know how a project should be run. Why they haven’t all been fired is beyond my understanding. I guess because they have supporters in government like Moeller, Leavitt, and Gregoire giving them cover would be the reason.

    Bob is right. Getting rid of Leavitt, and hopefully Moeller, would be a good start. Whoever decides to run against Leavitt is certainly going to receive my support.

  4. I goes up even higher, guys.

    Paula Hammond must go too.

  5. Now there’s a real misconception for ya. Paula Hammond is an appointed bureaucrat that nobody can vote for even if they wanted to, and yet Lew here thinks she has more power than the elected officials that are supposed to be in charge.

    Its kind of like Egypt, where the military is running the civilians; only here is is WSDOT who is in charge….

  6. Tom, I sent the emails to the other councillors to prompt them to question Leavitt’s leadership. That he saw fit to respond publicly indicates that he has those same concerns.

  7. Earth to Tim,
    You are ignoring the elephant in the room – light rail!
    Light rail has no relationship what so ever to solving congestion. The ONLY function of light rail is as an excuse to give taxpayer money to politically connected developers to build high density housing all along the line.

    Most of the cost of the CRC project is for light rail (LRT bridge, LRT line, overpass mods to accommodate LRT disguised as interchange improvements.). One whole double deck bridge is ONLY for light rail/bikes & peds (lower decks of each bridge in the pair=one whole double deck bridge)!

    Dump the toy train and you have an affordable, no tolls required, bridge plus SR14 interchange rebuild – about $1/2 -3/4 billion. End of bridge problem. The really sick part is that the CRC has already been given almost enough money to pay for the local match for the bridge and they squandered it on trying to shove light rail down taxpayer’s throats. See http://www.nobridgetolls.com/i205.html

    The next problem to address is wholly in Portland.


  8. This whole discussion of a new bridge is irrelevant, because the Coast Guard has nixed all the current proposals. The CG requires the minimum clearance to be 174 feet (give or take, I’m not sure of the exact number). Oops, they forgot to ask that when they did all the design work.

    Such a tall bridge is out of the question. The approaches would have to be extremely long, which rules out the possibility of an SR14 interchange at the north end. Such a high approach would also make Pearson Air Park unusable. And it would be an eyesore on the skyline.

    Where we have such bridges today, we have angled approaches, as in the Markham and Freemont bridges, or at least one end of the bridge has a bluff to give an existing height advantage to the span, as the 205 and St. John’s bridges. The CRC location lacks all of these and also has the disadvantage of being a relatively naroow part of the river, meaning the high approaches will have to be mostly over land.

    The good news is you don’t have to worry about light rail, because the grade up to the peak of the span would likely be too great.

    When you factor all the negatives together, the CRC at the existing location is unworkable. I recall early on that they proposed a tunnel for roughly the same cost. If they can build a tunnel under the English Channel, we can tunnel under the Columbia River. Start digging, folks!

  9. I would love a copy or link to the document you referred to in the above e-mail Robert. I need to see the TIFIA language and am curious about the $8 billion price tag. The system is a mess and we all know that the feds do not pay for the cost overruns. We also know that the Parsons Brinkerhoff group is notorious for screwy numbers that do not reflect factual data costing but rather hypothesies and supposition. I doubt that they have ever accomplished coming in at less than 30% cost overruns but that is my supposition only based on the jobs I researched that they have been involved with around the world. What is truly interesting is that Leavitt did not argue your numbers or even dispute them at all. He avoided them intirely attacking you for moving out of state instead. A diversion approach we see so often in the progressive march toward saddling the tax payers with huge debt consequently stripping them of any option for freedom of attempt to achieve liberty and happiness. Please go out to my website @ http://www.votecarolyn.com/ and connect to the e-mail links so I can see the references and research them. Thank you for your continued concern in our community!

  10. Carolyn, the links are embedded – just click on the blue text. The $8 billion comes from Joe Cortright’s analysis $10 billion total less $2 billion from the Feds and states. However, since then they’ve subtracted two Vancouver interchanges and so the principal is $3.1 billion instead of $3.6 billion. However, the local contribution of $1.4 billion through tolls balloons to $2.8 billion because the states want to pay their portion with our tolls also. However, that’s only the principal so we’ll have to pay roughly twice that amount in tolls in order to raise the $2.8 billion principal on the bonds. Then there’s 30 years of interest at 5% plus cost overruns bringing the total we’ll have to pay in tolls closer to $8 billion. That’s conservative. The links are to a CRC email I got, the Oregon Treasurers report and Joe Cortright’s study.

  11. Bill Turley was at the Eileen Qutub get-together yesterday evening, and I had a chance to talk with him for a few minutes about CRC. He confirmed what we already know: when confronted with cold, hard facts, Tim & Company simply respond with handwaving and shadow-dancing about the “the future” and “the vision.”

    My fervent hope is that even the voters in the 49th, who voted in a strong majority against the income tax and for the 2/3rd’s majority rule, will recognize the utter lunacy in continuing down the current path (and the immediate, direct negative impact on their pocket-books), and vote these people out of office at the earliest possible opportunity.

  12. I’d like someone to explain to me (if they know themselves) exactly what the project thinks they can “mitigate” in order for the Coast Guard to sign off on the 95′ (low water) height. “Mitigation” seems to be the only response they have actually given to this controversy to date, and that is after considerable pressure from all corners.

    I know they mentioned “mitigating” one of the marine contractors by offering to pay for a place for them to assemble their projects downstream of the bridge, but that’s our money as well and they have no plans to raise that cash either, much less an actual plan.

    I’m worried about this “mitigation” talk as much as I am about this “vision” of endless loot rail battles to come that Mayor Progressive has a fixation about. I would really like to put this all to rest once and for all, (along with Leavitt’s political aspirations) give the community some time to heal and then start talking about some real solutions for local transportation that are reasonable along with a plan to pay for it that doesn’t involve bankrupting the County for decades to come.

    Instead we have the local political elite promising to continue this fight indefinitely. C-Tran’s “Board” has a stated goal of getting loot rail over here and there is no indication that goal will ever change unless we significantly change the Board and its structure. I wonder if it isn’t time to elect a three person C-Tran Board instead of the mess we have now. Last I heard Yacoltistan was looking at how they could withdraw from C-Tran completely.

    Fourteen years and almost $150 Million down the sewer at the CRCP is just shameful and there has to be some way to shut this thing down and use the money for something other than subsidizing the payroll, benefits and retirement accounts of WSDOT personnel. The CRC is a revolving door government job shop and one reason it still continues is the State is reluctant to lay anyone else off…

  13. You nailed it Bob. I guess mitigation must mean asking the Coast Guard to ignore the law or ordering them to ignore the law with a presidential Executive Order.

  14. No blue text here in the article. However I will try to link into the articles you referrenced. Thank you.

  15. Carolyn, where text is bold & underlined with …….. is the link. Put your cursor over it an it should turn blue.

    The new format I switched to has links looking like that instead of blue.

  16. I attended a columbia river crossing oversight committee made up of Mike Armstrong, Jim Moeller, Mary Margaret Haugen, Jim Moeller, Ann Rivers, a local constituent chosen to represent the local people and few other Olympia political insiders are also on it.

    Part 1 – http://www.cityofvancouver.us/cvtv/cvtvarchive2/Community_Events/2012_Events/Columbia_River_Crossing_Oversight_Subcommittee_Meeting_Part-1_6-19-12.wmv
    Part 2 – http://www.cityofvancouver.us/cvtv/cvtvarchive2/Community_Events/2012_Events/Columbia_River_Crossing_Oversight_Subcommittee_Meeting_Part-2_6-19-12.wmv

    As some of you have known me for some time, I won’t say much more. But I want you to watch the six or seven hours of this and tell me what YOU think. I was there along with the oregonian, columbian and other news media. Of course the same round of detractors and their attempts to get their ideas across also were there.

    I definitely have my held opinions. But I want to hear what others feel after watching this.

  17. I just wanted to add that Tim Leavitt, Scott Patterson and Jeff Hamm (CTran,) Matt Ransom, Bill Turlay and Jeanne Stewart also were in attendance at various times also along with a plethora of other Oregon and Washington state legislative staff. So this was not just some simple meeting…

    The next meeting I believe will be August 20th. I hope you all reading this blog will be able to attend. The location is to be determined later… And there will be an October and late December final meeting where a report will be written to advise the governor.

  18. We already know what the “report” will say, Jeremy.

    Full speed ahead, damn the citizens, economy, Coast Guard or anything else.

  19. You missed a few parts. 🙂

    Add in all the financial extraction, the ICC – CREDC and other local proponents will try to grease the wheels in their own way to make sure this system happens. I bet there is more I’m missing?

  20. Thank you for the link Jeremy. I just spent my entire afternoon watching the video and taking notes.
    So you want my opinion. I think it stinks that a group and especially Paula Hammond would advocate for a design that “mid” plan which does not even cover the needs of today let alone the future. I found more rounds of fuzzy math in the plan as well. For instance the 15% of commuters that currently ride the bus system to cross the bridge today and forecasted for 38% by 2030? Both numbers are way off. One million more people moving into our area by 2030? I’ll be moving again if that is true! 134,000 drivers crossing daily now which was Paula Hammond again when the numbers are actually down from the original study and are now 100,000 daily. The constant comments on the 1/3 each state and 1/3 from the feds when the amount probable from the feds is coming in at 25% with out any cost over runs. The idea that 8 years out we will have been paying for a project before it is in full use as long as there are no time delays in the project. I can tell you Oregon will not be fixing their Rose Quarter area anytime soon since it is a multi billion dollar boondoggle all its own with the freeways all coming together as well as multiple other bridges and all the relevant close built infrastructure such as the Rose Quarter and the Convention buildings and hospitals that almost touch the freeways. The claims for 700 accidents per year leading into and on the bridge is really curious. The money spent thus far of $145 million under the term “public process” makes me curious since the amounts appropriated by the states and the contribution from the feds seems to come up to near double that figure. I really would like to see some numbers that show every dollar and every hour billed for to each state including those spent by public employees on this project. I noticed King did not let the 70% reduction in congestion slip through. His math put it at 10% especially with phased in interchange ramp accesses. This project is a mess under Paula Hammond’s watch.
    We need to scrap the light rail portion and run with the bridge at the right height. The 80′ minimum clearance will NOT come close to cutting it for several months of the year where our upriver traffic needs are concerned.
    I also have an issue with identity clark county offering a reception to the group after hours. A political pac who is sponsored and headed by a member of another political pac should not have “off the record” open access to bend the ears and minds of our elected and appointed people. I think it is wrong.

  21. Carolyn, I just watched portions of that meeting. I heard Rep Jim Moller refer to the bridge as a “half circle” not able to drive upon, or raised up and landing somewhere in Hazeldell! I also heard Paula Hammond mention a “Lift Bridge” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Is that the best WADOT has to offer?

    I continue to ask Mayor Leavitt and Commissioner Stewart where the bridge plan is, yet it is obvious to me that this mega project is beyond the comprehension of the incompentent planners at large.

    I’ll say it again THIS BRIDGE IMO CANNOT BE BUILT.
    A possible solution is a single level bridge and eliminate light rail completly.

    OR the popular practicle preferred choice a third bridge.

    There is not bridge plan and there is no need for a sales tax to pay for M&O for light rail.

    This project needs to be shut down ASAP!

  22. I think it is very significant to the CRCP that the US Commerce Secretary just resigned, and the chances of Obama getting a new one confirmed before the election are somewhere between zilch point zero and none. Commerce has a big part to play in this and in all likely hood it will be a new Commerce Secretary under a new President sometime next year that takes another hard look at this fiasco. There will also be a new Secretary of Transportation and an entirely different Congress than the one we have now, and they will not be at all anxious to throw any more money at a project like this one that is mired in so much controversy.

    Machiavelli teaches us that “A wise man does immediately what a fool does finally”. Shut it down now and cut the losses.

  23. Just to add further – The next Oversight committee meeting I believe is planned for two months from on August 20th, though site location has NOT been decided…

  24. Going back and re-reading old research archives of mine I found the articles and transportation records that showed L.A. has 5 highest cogestion sections of I-5 and they include the highest in accidents with I-5 not even coming in close. The worst section of I-5 for accidents is and has been for years the section just north of Salem and Woodburn where there is a long straight stretch that is affected by rain water having a bad runoff issue, grass burning on dry days causing smoke, and tired or drunk drivers not paying close enough attention. This is a deadly strip. The I-5 curves are equally rough with high accident numbers as well.

  25. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303561504577492764042789568.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    Gas taxes being used to fund student loans (and free contraception). No wonder they require a local contribution!

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