None of us get through life without making mistakes, messing up on something that we end up going back and redoing or fixing. Mistake happen to all of us and let’s face it that is why pencils all have erasers on them, so we can erase a mistake and rewrite it.
But we seem to learn from our mistakes and do our best not to repeat them, especially ones that end up costing us more money than we were prepared to spend.
We don’t seem to see that “learn from our mistakes” attitude in many public/private ventures like the Columbia River Crossing, though. Even though it is crammed with mistakes, the CRC attitude is more of ignore them and forge ahead, regardless of what it will end up costing taxpayers.
To date the CRC has cost over $160 Million and been spread out over a decade and still doesn’t have a design adequate to gain a Coast Guard permit to build the bridge for light rail due to insufficient clearance for river traffic. Somehow, planners ignored that at least 3 current businesses upriver require much more clearance to fit their products under the current bridge between Clark County Washington and Portland, Oregon, even though they were aware of it years go.
Public support that has never been very high, is decreasing as more and more taxpayers realize this project is a bridge to nowhere except bankruptcy. Citizens now aware of the fallacies have organized websites informing others of the many mistakes and at times, lies used to promote this project.
Ignoring the concept of sunk costs, proponents just forge ahead, blindly saying it has come too far and costs too much to abandon now or redesign.
Instead, even though it shown those businesses stand to lose as much as $116 Million, discussions are heard of moving those businesses, likely out of our community and taking their jobs with them, to areas down river that will likely end up out of our still struggling community. And of course, at least part of their move would be at taxpayer expense or taxpayers pick up some of their loses.
All because planners refuse to drop light rail that Clark County voters have repeatedly said they neither want nor need.
We read of the Oregon legislature approving debt to fund their portion of the project, without a clue of how they will pay that debt.
As they ignore increasing debt and cutting other projects short to fund the massive CRC, we hear of an obvious conflict of interest with Oregon Governor Kitzhaber’s “top advisor” on the project also employed by the very company so far receiving the bulk of funds in planning this project and who wants to be the one to build it.
She isn’t paid by the state but by the CRC, collecting some $417,000 to date, collected from tax dollars paid to the CRC to keep it forging ahead.
Tolls, long said to be the main source of funding for the CRC has been contentious for many years, expected to reach $8 a crossing. But tolls alone will not make up the multi-Billion expense of construction and operations and maintenance of the light rail extended a short distance into Clark County.
Democrats in Olympia, Washington, wanting to push this project and others through with complete disregard for taxpayers, have proposed increasing the gas tax, adding a $20 per year fee to license your car, charging a $25 when a bicycle costing $500 or more is purchased and even charging taxpayers a mileage tax.
If that isn’t enough to hurt middle class families, we now see rookie State Senator Annette Cleveland, from the 49th Legislative District proposing to double down on tolls and possible gas tax to fund Washington’s portion of the initial $450 Million to begin construction.
Add to that the desire of others to toll the I-205 Bridge, blocked for now by a legislation but able to be repealed, and Clark County’s middle class could be facing massive increases just to travel to work in Portland.
We already saw how using some sleight of hand, a large portion of what Portland expects to spend was shifted to Clark County commuters as well as several Millions of dollars are being budgeted for projects well outside of the CRC benefit district inside Portland, to be paid for by Clark County residents.
Our new Governor, Jay Inslee has shown he is solidly in the tank for the CRC and has chosen Lynn Peterson, former advisor to Oregon’s Governor Kitzhaber on transportation matters to be the new Washington State Secretary of Transportation, replacing Paula Hammond.
Forgotten or maybe better said ignored, Clark County has seen 4 straight years of double digit unemployment, well above much of the rest of the state. The last thing needed is for the middle class to be faced with double tolls, gas tax increases as we see the price of gasoline climbing again, property taxes increases due to our home values decreasing and utilities increasing since we listened and conserved electricity and water.
It took several years and hundreds of millions of tax dollars before the state admitted mistakes on another boondoggle project in the Puget Sound
All we are going to get out of this is a Bridge to Bankruptcy as proponents blindly forge ahead, ignoring the economic troubles still seen in Clark County.
How long will it take and how many people will suffer bankruptcy before the state see’s the mistake of the CRC?
It’s time they woke up to how they are decimating the very middle class they claim to stand for.