Elected Officials Raise More Questions On CRC

by lewwaters

CRCFrom 3rd Congressional District Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, to 17th Legislative District Senator Don Benton and to 14th Legislative District Senator Curtis King, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, critical questions are beginning to be asked and recommendations made to clear up the many discrepancies surrounding the Columbia River Crossing project.

Senator Benton has long been a critic, having seen early on in the project that it could not live up to promises or expectations and would be a massive waste of tax dollars as planned. His calls and cries for reining the project and the steady flow of tax dollars in, over $160 Million to date, have been largely ignored and cast aside as what now appears to be the biggest swindle ever to hit Southwest Washington forged ahead amidst growing public opposition.

After many years of inaction by elected officials and the increasing public outcry for accountability and transparency, the public growing tired of the ‘trust us, we know what we’re doing’ attitude of the CRC and C-TRAN, other legislative voices are joining Senator Benton’s and even Congresswoman Herrera Beutler, who initially seemed to be waiting for someone to give her a position on it now seems to be increasing her own opposition, enlisting the aid of 5th Congressional District Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 4th Congressional District Representative Doc Hastings and Idaho 1st Congressional District Representative Raul Labrador in calling on the Coast Guard for a “full study of the economic impacts of Columbia River Crossing” before permitting the bridge “mitigated height,” having earlier denied the CRC a permit due to the bridge design presented being grossly inadequate for river traffic.

While her continued opposition is uncertain, I welcome this effort to achieve more transparency with the CRC.

Not uncertain is the continuing efforts of Senator Don Benton for not only transparency, but accountability as he seeks answers to a growing list of problems and discrepancies. Acting on behalf of Sharon Nasset of Third Bridge Now, Senator Benton requested the Federal Transit Administration Administrator Peter M. Rogoff to verify the locations of the light rail stations in regards to employment within a 1/2 mile radius at Delta Park in Portland where currently there is a Golf Course, a Race Track and a protected wildlife wetlands, outlined in an analysis of CRC claims prepared by Ms. Nasset’s group.

A July 24, 2012 response from Mr. Rogoff basically diverted the responsibility for verification back onto “local decisions makers,” or if you will, WSDOT, ODOT, Clark County Public Transit Benefit Authority, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District, Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council and Portland Metro.

Also stated was,

“Local project sponsors have provided sufficient documentation to FTA that demonstrates that the LRT stations proposed as part of the CRC project are reasonably located within a ½-mile radius of employment areas identified within your incoming letter.”

The documentation might be sufficient for the FTA, but they apparently don’t bother to ever look or verify claims made by local project sponsors. If they had, how could they miss the light rail stations are located adjacent to a Race Track, Golf Course and protected wildlife wetlands?

The request for verification was submitted to C-TRAN director Jeff Hamm early this month, January 2013. Not receiving a response, his office was contacted by Ms. Nasset only to be told Mr. Hamm never received such a request. After a prompting from Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s office to please respond, late this afternoon Mr. Hamm finally replied.

As I viewed the reply, I notice it really isn’t a reply for verification on the location of the light rail stations planned for Delta Park, projecting business and job growth in the half-mile radius, but a clarification of “incorrectly cited information from the CRC Draft Components Step A Screening Report, March 22, 2006 regarding travel from five geographic subareas in Portland” in regards to the use of the term “transit riders” in Senator Benton’s letter that “are in fact person trips.”

Also, Mr. Hamm found it necessary to remind Ms. Nasset,

“Note that in FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff’s July 24, 2012 response letter to Senator Benton he states: ‘Local project sponsors have provided sufficient documentation to FTA that demonstrates that the LRT stations proposed as part of the CRC project are reasonably located within a ½ mile radius of the employment areas identified within your incoming letter’.”

In reality, nothing that we don’t see every time efforts are made to shine light on this swindle and get some transparency on claims made of what benefits are in store that just doesn’t add up. Then too, it leaves us wondering why it took Mr. Hamm as long as it did to respond with his diversion?

A very welcome voice from the Washington State Senate was added today as I received a copy of a letter sent to newly installed Governor Jay Inslee from 14th Legislative District Senator Curtis King, who is also co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, calling for a change in direction of the project.

Sen. King calls upon Governor Inslee to advocate a Bridge Project that should include sufficient bridge clearance, better traffic flow, eliminates costly light rail, has fiscally prudent transit options and enough capacity for vehicle traffic by designing a one-tier bridge with ten traffic lanes in his Five-Point plan.

This alone was enough to send 49th Legislative District Representative Jim Moeller, a staunch supporter of the current swindle off on one of his usual tangents seen whenever something he supports is questioned.

Under comments at the Columbian’s brief coverage of the letter Moeller rants,

“Sen. King is essentially asking for re-design ‘do over’. A new bridge design that would put us out of the federal funding window for a generation. Over 10 years of study, 160 million dollars spent by both states, expert review panels, six independent governmental agencies approval, a locally preferred alternative and a federal record of decision have already been completed. Sen King proposes 10 lanes, BRT instead of LTR and a lift section among others. All these ideas have evaluated and rejected through an extensive, professional and local process.”

Jim Moeller too seems unaware, or uninterested if you will, of plans to construct light rail stations planned to draw businesses and jobs at a protected wildlife wetlands.

But neither he nor the Columbian have shown much interest in shining any light onto this Multi-Billion swindle that has the sole purpose of forcing Clark County Washington residents into not only accepting Portland, Oregon’s financially troubled light rail, but paying for it along with several other projects in Oregon well outside of the so-called CRC benefit zone.

And yes, Jim, not only is Sen. King asking for a redesign, but your constituents’ have been as well. If we are going to get stuck paying generations of tolls, uproot established businesses in our city, displace hundreds or more jobs, we deserve a bridge that will at least suit our needs, one that we can afford and will not restrict river traffic that would cause the loss of jobs upriver.

In spite of grandiose claims, it has been shown that light rail will only improve travel time for commuters at peak traffic hours by one minute, at most. It has been shown that there is not enough ridership in Clark County to sustain a light rail line that will only extend a couple miles into Clark County with funds going to Portland, Oregon and not circulating in our own struggling community.

Most of all, it has been shown that the only way to really reduce congestion through the I-5 corridor if for Oregon to step up and widen the freeway through their Rose Quarter and Terwilliger Curves area, the two main bottlenecks in Portland. It I also know that Oregon has stated they have no intention of widening those areas, making the new bridge with the same number of traffic lanes as we now have futile.

And not to forget, voters in Clark County have been denied a direct vote on light rail from Portland ever since we first rejected it by a 2 to 1 margin back in 1995. But plans move forwards as if the people no longer matter, other than we are pandered to by politicians for our vote.

Our voices grow louder as our numbers grow to put a stop to this swindle and get a design going that will actually benefit us, not a handful of wealthy promoters pushing these light rail projects off on people all over the country.

We’ve been told time and again that light rail is coming, get used to it.

To those with that attitude, click here.

14 Comments to “Elected Officials Raise More Questions On CRC”

  1. Moeller is a cancer in both our community and the Legislature. He’s either ignorant of the facts or doesn’t care about them, and either way, he’s unfit to hold elective office.

    Kudos to Senators King, Benton and Rivers. Additional kudos to Tiffany Couch who’s done yeoman’s work on exposing this multi-billion dollar fraud.

    Hopefully, this will kill this horrific waste of money, time and effort. And hopefully, a federal grand jury will look into this.

    Odd, isn’t it?

    Senator King accomplished more with one letter than Jaime Herrera has accomplished in 5 years of a wasted tenure.

    But then, Herrera has supported this scam all along, as her complete lack of action and her tremendous amount of motion attests.

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  2. Since we know that Jaime leans whichever way the wind blows, let’s hope she keeps leaning the way the wind is blowing from us, the people.

    I too give thanks to all you mentioned as well as Sharon Nasset for all of her work at Third Bridge Now and compiling additional information from the Oregon side.

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  3. I just wanted to ask and hopefully Sharon might know some more information. Wasn’t about four years ago plans to re-develop that water way around Bybee lake into some thing else? I think it was around the whining of the noise of PIR? (Yes, there was a HUGE whine about the noise out at Portland International Raceway…) This was a separate action from the redevelopment work that the Port of Portland wants to do on west hayden island….

    The reason whY I am relating this comment, is that Lew was talking about the CRC or some other entity wants to put a light rail stop near this area. If you don’t know, the Delta Park – Van Port light rail stop with a small parking lot is not far from this area…

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  4. I might be mistaken on planned additional stations, Jeremy. From Benton’s letter last June, it appears he is talking about the current stations.

    I’ll need to review it and edit, if needed.

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  5. There are several issues the first being if you don’t know the basic dimensions, height, width and length how can possibly have a cost estimate on your design? Something is not right at C-Tran no one there got the memo that the M&O on an unbuilt bridge is zero, and they are shocked that people didn’t vote for their measure. I do think we need a new bridge. I can see both arguments for and against light rail, what I don’t like is all the drama and lies both sides feel a need to insert into their debate. We need a REAL debate on the facts.

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  6. Alex – I think people didn’t vote for the measure because a lot of people whom I have been dealing with from county commissioner to city of vancouver council people have never been straight with people. Then you add two sides of the river trying to hammer this out over a decade and some playing political games, what do you think people are expecting now? Even during the last run up to the November 2012 election of the BRT and Light Rail ballot measure for M & O…

    They voted for the bus service a year before, but I doubt you will find a room of people in Clark County that will vote for another round of that ballot measure related to bus rapid transit OR light rail transit until they do a couple of things. 1) Be honest with people. 2) Have the gumption to admit some one was wrong. 3) Study up on what has happened and 4) Finally, above all finally, BE HONEST with us.

    If they had done all of this years ago, this whole mess about the CRC Project would not have been such a problem. You would not need a whole slew of community activisits over the past thirty years having issues with various levels of several projects, studies and processes that have been aimed in the same project area. And it looks like near thirty PLUS years may go down the drain.

    If you do a little further research (to all whom may read this?) There was a proposal I believe in late 1970s or early 1980s to split off I-5 to the west and do the proposed jaunt over the columbia (aka the third bridge?) OR it was a proposal to run down Fruit Valley road and go further south as a second arterial through the area.

    I wish someone from back of that time might be able to enlighten me and the folks about what happened. I doubt there are many from this political era still living or associating themselves in Clark County still…. But that third bridge ideas has been around for many, many years.

    To your points, Alex. Pretty much any one related to the CRC project has left many years ago or moved on to other projects. Though there are a few still around…

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  7. If you look at the city budgets and the RTC budget for the next two years they forecast spending money on the transportation projects. RTC has hybrid buses and BRT as well as CRC funding in their budget for 2014 and 2015 both amounting to millions of dollars. These people won’t listen. Adamant to push forward they just keep going with our money in a direction we voted no on. It is time to replace them all… Jeff Hamm, Chuck Green, both C-tran; Jack Burkman, city council and chair of RTC; Dean Lookingbill rtc; Tim Leavitt city mayor and c-tran board; Jim Moeller representative (if you call what he does that) and major proponent of the whole mess. Time to vote those we can vote on OUT! I am still running to replace Moeller in 2014 and hope all those who are sick of this will step up and help me get him out of office. Every single person we remove from their postition will seriously help stop this waste.

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  8. From time to time I question whether or not I’m just a malcontent, a whiner, a complainer – unable to see what’s “good for me” as proponents of CRC suggest. The more I learn though, the more it appears that this project is either massively mismanaged by incredibly incompetent people, or there really is something crooked going on here. I’m beginning to think that rather than just being fired, they should all be jailed.

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  9. What a shameless pack of lies. It is reassuring to know that the hysterical opposition to the regionally CRC project is founded on such shameless no to half truths. How could anyone make accusations of wrongdoing based on so much incredibly inaccurate and misrepresented information. It is apparent to me now just how twisted in imagination is of certain detractors Mr. Waters. I do not have the time or inclination to spell out all the misjudgments in this one article but I will point out one glaring mistake (which I believe is a conscious misrepresentation, which makes it an out-and-out lie): “…the Coast Guard…having earlier denied the CRC a permit due to the bridge design presented being grossly inadequate for river traffic” If the author of this farcical article does not even understand the most basic truth that the CRC has never applied for a bridge permit and is only now in the process of applying in cooperation with the CG and potentially affected businesses upriver (particularly Thomson’s Fab, who incidentally is not in opposition to the CRC). Of course the word cooperation, I am sure, is as nebulous a term to this articles author, as is the expression, “shred of honestly.”

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  10. There you go again “Carol”. A bunch of unsubstantiated allegations and again you lack the courage to identify yourself. You don’t “have the time or inclination to spell out all the misjudgments” because you have nothing to base them on.

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  11. To Craig Sayre, I hope you understand that you have been incredibly misled by all this inaccurate and intentionally malicious misreporting of the facts about the CRC. Perhaps you are “…just a malcontent, a whiner, a complainer…” but if you are honestly concerned about the truth of the matter about these “…massively mismanaged by incredibly incompetent people…” I would be happy to explain some real facts to you. Starting with the fact that the CRC responds to all public inquires, and in fact some of the folks over there had a good chuckle over the latest reports requested by Tiffany Couch, who is milking this ride for all it’s worth, because Ms. Couch does not seem to understand one simple truth about David Evans legal relationship to the project. They are the lead consultant, and all payments to sub consultants are paid through DEA. In response to these inane inquiries, the CRC assigns personnel, which costs taxpayers money, in order to satiate Couche’s obsessive requests for documentation that she does not understand how to interpret correctly.
    Do you understand what this means? It means that you (the taxpayer) are paying to have Tiffany spend hours and hours sorting through information that she does not understand that is being generated on the taxpayers dime while Tiffany collects money from her political sugar daddy, David “the bore” Madore. She could care less about how long this all takes, in fact she has all the incentive in the world to prolong this process because it is money in her pockets (not to mention political currency to boot!). And you have the audacity to accuse the CRC of wrong doing?!?! I have a suggestion, instead of responding to all this made up negativity that Mr. Waters puts out, and this really is a one man show of disgruntlement, try doing what I have done. Go right to the source, ask hard questions, and consider the responses with an open mind. Then if indeed you keep coming back to the idea that there”…is something crooked going on here.” which I can assure there is not, you can be confident in the fact you are indeed, “…just a malcontent, a whiner, a complainer….”

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  12. Well Carol, you sure know how to lose friends and influence enemies 😉

    “Hysterical opposition?” Is that what Jeff Hamm instructs you to say?

    You say “the CRC has never applied for a bridge permit.” A December 7, 2011 letter from the Coast Guard included, “As previously stated, the Coast Guard cannot determine if the preferred 95 foot bridge clearance will meet reasonable navigational requirements based on the information provided for review. Although you intend to sign the ROD today, as the FEIS is currently written, the Coast Guard will not be able to accept a bridge permit application based on the information provided in the FEIS, or accept it as written.”

    You can split hairs that you didn’t actually apply if you wish, but it is evident that you were put on notice that no permit would be forthcoming past that time.

    Trying to get Patty Murray to twist arms to force the Coast Guard into relinquishing their navigational requirements to suit light rail proponents who wish to cram Portland’s folly down our throats is not exactly what I consider “cooperation.”

    As far as any fabrications can go, can you point to anywhere I said Thompson Metal Fab is opposed to CRC? Or do you just throw out canards to bolster your position?

    Face it, why can’t you all just stop lying about the project and just tell everybody the prime concern is to get Portland’s $1.6 Billion in debt light rail a short distance into our community, whether voters & taxpayers want it or not?

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  13. Carol, instead of all of this defensive verbiage, why not just give the county citizens an up or down vote on light rail and live by the outcome?

    Or do your masters not give a crap about those of us you demand to pay for your empire building?

    Why are you afraid of an open and transparent investigation?

    Why was $400 Million for improvements inside Oregon shifted onto the cost of the bridge Clark County citizens will pay?

    Demeaning Tiffany Couch as you continue to do makes you look even pettier than you have been. She at least is open and not hiding behind smoke screens.

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  14. Still not identifying yourself eh Carol? Why are you grinding CRC’s axes for them (i.e. personal attacks on David Madore and Tiffany Couch)? In that you won’t identify yourself I can only surmise that you are an employee of CRC or with an affiliated organization such as C-TRAN, and as such your post is less than worthless.

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