Olympia, WA., Friday, February 8, 2013
Governor Jay Inslee,
Thank you for meeting with us to discuss the next steps for the state on the Columbia River Crossing.
The purpose of this letter is to lay out some ideas and thoughts as we begin to work together for the benefit of the citizens of southwest Washington.
First, this is a tremendously complex project, and the largest we are likely to see in our lifetime. We agree that continued questioning of costs, intelligent adjustment to changing conditions and response to concerns of citizens are imperative when investing so many taxpayer dollars.
However, our duty to stringent oversight should not derail or slow the project. We also agree on the following points:
- The bridge height issues are legitimate and the jobs at stake are critical to our economy. But we have no reason to believe that they cannot be mitigated as we move forward.
- The choices about lanes and mode of transit have already been made as part of a process that multiple partners have agreed to. Continuing to revisit those decisions without legitimate reason is destructive to completion of the project.
- On light rail, we embrace it as a positive choice for the future of our community. On a per passenger basis, light rail operations cost around 25% less than buses. In addition, the Federal Transit Administration will fund $850 million, eliminating most of the cost of having light rail in the project. High gas prices are here now and will only increase. We are an attractive community for families to move to and grow in, which is why by year 2025 we will grow by well over 100,000 people That is only twelve years and we need strong transit options for commuters and families.
We invite you to visit Vancouver and Clark County to talk about the Columbia River Crossing. We would be honored to tour the current bridge with you, look at the issues, preview the work planned and see how the community is planning for the future.
We believe that you will come away with an even better idea of what this project means for southwest Washington. It is possible and critical to address community concerns and not back away from current commitments with Oregon and the federal government to build a replacement bridge.
Finally, to ensure the work needed to keep the project on track is done efficiently, we ask you to direct state agencies to coordinate and plan for current and on-going regulatory issues. We would suggest you direct the Office of Regulatory Assistance to convene a team of all the regulatory agencies – state, local, federal and regional – relevant to this project so that the project can proceed and eventually be completed in the most effective manner possible.
We look forward to working with you to provide jobs, safe transportation and good choices for the future of our kids and our community.
State Sen. Annette Cleveland State Rep. Jim Moeller State Rep. Sharon Wylie