Light Rail: Bliss, Blight or Just Out of Touch?

by lewwaters

Many of us have alleged for some time now that the Lazy C is totally out of touch with the community they claim they serve. If subscribers that do not buy into the agenda’s pushed by the Lazy C aren’t being labeled ‘Hounds of Whinerville,’ they’re censored in commenting under certain articles.

The Lazy C shows just how out of touch they are with Clark County in the headline run in their Monday June 10, 2013 edition.

Columbian Jun 9 headline

With everything happening in the world and even Clark County, Light Rail Blight or Bliss is the major news story? And the most pitiful part of it is that it doesn’t even matter whether or not light rail brings crime or not.

Reading under the article you find the usual slate of ‘light rail at any cost’ crowd crowing how much they love it and demeaning any not ‘enlightened’ enough to fall for the gimmicks being used to force Clark County into accepting Portland’s financially failing light rail extended a short distance into our community.

And again, it doesn’t matter.

The article begins with,

“Love it or hate it, light rail’s tracks are firmly embedded in plans for the Columbia River Crossing. But what will that mean for Vancouver?”

It concludes,

“According to estimates by the Federal Transit Administration, light rail in Vancouver could spur rapid changes to downtown, attracting 1,400 new residential units within 10 years. If Oregon’s experience suggests anything, it’s that if light rail arrives, it will carry new arrivals and change — some welcome, some not — to neighborhoods along the tracks.”

Wishful thinking at best, but again, it doesn’t matter.

Left out of the article is that in order for them to force light rail into Clark County, the new bridge must have an unsafe clearance for river traffic, dropping a 178 foot clearance when the current light spans are raised to a fixed 116 foot when the river is running at its lowest level, ignoring that the water level rises significantly every year.

Much fearmongering has been in play since the oversized truck load struck 10 structural beams that caused the Skagit River Bridge collapse on May 23, 2013 with efforts to compare the twin spans here with the one in Skagit County that collapsed.

Skagit Fear

There too what is ignored is the unsafe clearance for all river traffic designed into the Columbia River Crossing light rail project to accommodate light rail, it being unable to climb a steeper grade to raise the bridge to a safe level.

Ignored too in all of the fearmongering that has been going on is the oft repeated phrase from proponents, “no light rail, no bridge,” holding a “safe bridge” they claim to support hostage to light rail.

Not mentioned in the fearmongering effort to scare Clark County into supporting the light rail project is previous collapses of bridges in America, very few caused by land based vehicles while one fourth of those collapses since 1940 being caused by collision from water vessels.

Also left out of the estimates is taxpayers being left on the hook for lost profits to businesses negatively affected by the unsafe bridge height as well as the very real potential of taxpayers left holding the bag for paying for hundreds of jobs to leave the community, after some 5 years straight of double digit unemployment.

We have seen the Lazy C ignore much data that contradicts claims made proponents as well as demean those in office who shed light on several questionable practices revealed through independent hiring of a forensic auditor to pour over a massive document dump that was due to a FOIA request.

We hear and see demands for “transparency” in just who funds groups organized to speak truth of the CRC light rail project while no similar transparency is provided or called for from supporters of the massive taxpayer rip off from the Lazy C.

But none of this shows just how out of touch the Lazy C is with the community they say they serve. What does show it begins back in 1995 when Clark County voters defeated a measure to fund extending Portland’s folly into our community by a two to one margin, prompting the Lazy C’s Thomas Ryll to write then on February 8, 1995 article “VOTERS SNUB LIGHT-RAIL PLAN,”

“Meanwhile, the light rail issue failed with a 2-1 margin, despite dire warnings that river-crossing congestion by early in the next century will strangle Clark County, prompting residents and industry to leave.”

He continues, “

“The rail rejection was accompanied by a voter turnout that was soundly underestimated by county elections officials. Some 30,000 residents were expected to go to the polls or vote absentee; turnout totaled 52,864, with absentee ballots accounting for nearly 11,000 of that. The total represents 37.4 percent of the 141,269 registered voters in the county.”

“‘A lot of polling stations used emergency ballots because they ran out,’ said Tim Likness, county elections supervisor. ‘We also took some extras out to other polling stations because they’d used up their emergency ballots rather early’.”

Clearly, the issue drew a lot of attention from Clark County residents. Even though soundly rejected, much as we see today, we read back then,

“Supporters, in the form of the Friends of Light Rail group, had $200,000 to spend to promote the issue. ‘It was a failure on our part to communicate to voters the real impact of what it will mean to have 120,000 more people in the county in a few years,’ said Joe King, co-chairman. ‘I don’t think people realize how fast and hard that growth will come.”

“From here on out, ‘It’s going to take a lot of thought on the part of the C-Tran board to figure out where to go,’ King said.”

“‘We need to take some weeks and see what the voters are telling us,’ said John Magnano, a county commissioner and C-Tran board member. ‘This may have been too big and complicated for voters to digest’.”

As usual, voters are just too stupid to understand what is good for us, even though voter turnout was unexpectedly high. Perhaps voters understand more than certain officials then or now understand?

March 2001 saw former Mayor Royce Pollard deciding to bring light rail back into discussion with the Oregonian citing,

“Clark County has grown by 54,000 people since 1995, with many of the new arrivals moving from the Portland area. These newcomers may not share the same opposition to light rail and to a closer Portland connection that many voters did in 1995.”

In the subsequent 12 years, we still have not been asked directly if we want light rail and instead are met with words of “light rail is coming, deal with it,” and similar degrading and demeaning words written in the Lazy C.

Hence, every single measure perceived by voters to fund light rail or its operation has been also defeated by voters, the latest just this past November election where light rail operations and maintenance funding went down in flames.

Not getting the message still, the Lazy C treated us to Another light rail vote on horizon? C-Tran, county seek clarity on paying for transit system quoting current Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart,

“It’s always good to get clarity. To get clarity on this subject will help for us to have a better discussion.”

What part of light rail or funding of light rail being drug into Clark County being defeated in 1995, 2001, 2004 and 2012 is unclear?

And in spite of a call from Commissioner Stuart of “clarity,” a citizen effort in Vancouver to place a direct vote for or against light rail remains blocked, even though a Cowlitz County Judge ruled the City of Vancouver’s rejection of the petition calling for the vote was unconstitutional.

And now, the Lazy C runs an article to attempt to convince us that light rail associated crime is not a worry?

From where I sit, the real crime associated with light rail comes from elected officials who continue to ignore or bypass voters in an effort to force them into not only accepting the very light rail they have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box, but to force them into generations of massive debt to pay for it.

There is no worry about any aging unsafe bridge on the part of proponents. It’s all about forcing us into taking light rail. If safety was their issue, they wouldn’t be holding a new bridge hostage to light rail.

19 Comments to “Light Rail: Bliss, Blight or Just Out of Touch?”

  1. According to the Lazy C, Sept. 14, 2010 when Steve Stuart was running for commish, “Stuart has endorsed a vote on light rail, and said Monday that if Clark County residents don’t support it, “then the states have the wrong project.”

    After being elected in 2010, Steve Stuart voted to delay the planned vote on light rail from 2011 to 2012. The vote was held Nov. 2012, and 56.51% of voters REJECTED the proposition to extend Trimet light rail into Clark County. Commissioner Stuart fought for the Nov. 2012 light rail sales tax hike including on a panel arguing for it, and has not indicated that “the states have the wrong project.” since. His wife as treasurer of the Keep Clark County Moving PAC also fought for higher CTRAN sales tax. http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/AdvancedSearch/ContributionsData?contributee=S0VFUENDIDY2MA%3D%3D%3D%3D&electionYear=ALL&committeeType=IGNORE&election=ALL&page=1 The vote was held, it was clear, and the states have the wrong project.

  2. In calling Ann Rivers office this afternoon — I’m told that there have been a massive number of calls — running 10 to 1 AGAINST the monstrosity of the CRC with Portland’s trolley cars.

    If Oregon’s position is no trolley cars, no bridge … then I say, no bridge! Better to be inconvenienced by the potential problems of the current Interstate bridge than to be burdened with the taxes and other grief that will surely follow from having Portland’s trolley cars here.

  3. The Mayor and his pac are pushing for a quasi municipal corp subdistrict to have Vancouver swallow up the light rail. Rather than honor the petition of the citizens who asked for the city to NOT spend any money on light rail he is pushing for the city SOLELY to have the authority for light rail. That means a vote on it as well as a vote on the property taxes that come with its incorporation. I called him out on it tonught at the council meeting. However, rather than state the truth he said 80% of what I said is false and Burkman popped off with well the citizens have to vote for it. Entirely missing my point of violations of ethics.

  4. When you have no ethics, you can’t violate them ;-)

  5. My thought for the day for any light rail proponents sneakin’ a peek into this write in Lew’s blog (and you know you are), why should we have to bear the burden of paying for something only YOU want? You want light rail so bad…then I suggest if you live in Vancouver and want a MAX ride to Portland from anywhere on the proposed MAX line, that you move to a residential migraine cluster development IN Portland along any one of the MAX lines and leave us Clark County citizens be with this nonsense!!! I’ve seen FIRST HAND what it did to the neighborhood I was born and raised in…and it isn’t a positive improvement by any means. The metamorphosis was swift and ugly. Cluster development surrounding the MAX line destroyed what was once a thriving and peaceful family-friendly community. A couple very recent examples of today’s living in Rockwood…just ask the family of the young man shot dead in front of a high density development next to the MAX platform on 190th Avenue. Just ask the person who was shot at 178th and Glisan…just a couple blocks away from the MAX line. Better yet, why don’t you hop on the blue line some time…and take a stroll around the Rockwood area, somewhere between 174th and 192nd Avenues ON Burnside, Stark and Glisan some evening, then come back and tell us (the truth) about your “happy” experience.

    If you haven’t a clue after the results of FOUR election years in which anything to do with light rail was on the ballot, that the majority of Clark County citizens don’t want TriMet’s cash-strapped migraine of an eyesore here…then here’s a bit of advice for you. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!! We HAVE our own transit system and we ARE improving our transit system to something that matches OUR needs WITH existing funds and WITHOUT forcing the residents of YOUR state to pay for OUR C-Tran so STOP with the outrageous attempts to force us to pay for TriMet. We’re NOT your overflow parking lot. So please…PLEASE do us a favor and migrate to the south side of the Columbia River.

    Comment ended

  6. The Daily Bird Cage Liner’s poll on the aforementioned article and people’s afterthoughts as of 5:25 pm on 06/11/2013…

    55% still consider light rail a Blight (197 votes).

    28% Bliss (100 votes)

    16% a little of both. (59 votes)

  7. If this happened with a general road construction/renewal project, think of what could potentially happen with Loo Rail construction and reconstruction in downtown Vancouver…especially with Smith Tower smack dab in the middle of things:

    http://www.koin.com/2013/06/11/delylah-wormer-update/

    My heart pours out to the family of Delylah a little angel soon to return to heaven.

  8. That is just wrong!

    When they were tearing up 88th St last year, an Ambulance was called for a neighbor. The flaggers flagged them right in and construction workers moved equipment back to give them room.

    It is unconscionable that an Ambulance was blocked by equipment for a length of time.

    My sympathies go out to the family as well.

  9. Thanks to Mr. Jim Karlock’s diligence in providing FACTS regarding the light rail and his comments on the Clark County bird cage liner, I clicked on a link provided by Jim (thanks, Jim) and found a video for which I want to share to everyone. I believe it’s an excellent depiction…a justifiable testimonial so to speak, of what that “blissful” light rail system will do to our downtown area. Since the bridge will be hovering over our heads much like the region surrounding the Fremont Bridge, we can rightly assume construction surrounding the bridge foundation in Vancouver will be quite similar in appearance.

    Some see light rail as an improvement and a major step forward in bringing us to the future. Others see that there’s very little improvement, increased congestion, higher crime…very little to offer except higher taxes, more fees and one Hell of an eyesore. I’m sure by now that everyone’s aware that I’m part of that “Others” group. The video is just under 18 minutes long and Check it out and decide for yourself:

  10. I decided to check out a recent picture of 190th and East Burnside, two blocks away from the Ruby Junction MAX station and their recent improvements with my starting point at a local battery shop and utilized the arrows to take a visual tour of the intersection. Here’s what I found:

    http://tinyurl.com/nxn5tmq

    Now bear in mind…this is what TriMet had to offer the neighborhood.

    http://trimet.org/pdfs/news/RockwoodInMotion_March2011.pdf

    Transit-Oriented Development???

    sigh….

  11. I grew up for my early teens in this area. Fred Meyers was in that big empty field and was one of the first big stores not located in a more urban setting. Driven away a decade ago by crime which even armed security could not prevent. This is a neighborhood of gangs and prostitution and drugs now that it is high density housing and mass transit.

  12. For all we know, Carolyn…you and I attended the same middle school. Anybody who lived in the area near the old Freddies, knows it was a lot better than it is today. Several of my old classmates say the same thing. They won’t even drive near the old neighborhood any more…and its not just because of the crime. It’s quite emotionally devastating seeing what has become of the old neighborhood. Multnomah County, TriMet, the City of Portland and the City of Gresham have that dark cloud over them which formed the day they began the poorly planned and executed destruction of a once peaceful community. On my street I grew up on…not one of the members of our neighborhood remained. NOT ONE.

    The problem is so easy to see. Mass Transit improvements are supposed to help a thriving community…yes, a cluster development-oriented community such as downtown Portland…but to take a completely functional community, throw in a bunch of ill-placed, high-density dwellings which are obviously out of character of the neighborhood…then add in as many fast food joints, half-empty mini malls with Tat parlors, topless bars and pay as you go loan sharks along with drug/alcohol abuse centers and God knows what else…you’re bound to have the prime example that Rockwood represents. They failed with the articulated buses…a definite sign that light rail wasn’t applicable…but they still went ahead with building the Blue Line into Gresham with no definite community improvement other than allowing a few “good ol’ boyz” union contractors (supporters of light rail) in to build their high density housing projects. Taking a gander at the Yellow Line from Broadway Bridge to the Expo Center and you see the same poor planning experience. I still cannot fathom why folks like Representative Moeller believe this is an improvement in community infrastructure. It will all but destroy downtown Vancouver…and we’ll have decades upon decades of living with the biggest mistake in the history of Clark County IF Moeller gets his way on this project. As things appear right now…

    We can only hope he doesn’t get his way, but it takes the continued determination of folks such as us who see the wolf in sheep’s clothing…aka CRC…and we need to keep up the fight till it is absolutely dead in the water. We NEED the infrastructure as far as the bridge is concerned…maybe one or two others…but definitely NOT with MAX.

    (Sorry this is so long winded)

  13. Something else I’ve noticed…

    The difference between the east side of Portland into Gresham and the east side of Vancouver is…our county made roadway improvements Multnomah County never did. We have two expressways (SR-500 and Padden) which helped relieve surface-street traffic heading westbound into Vancouver…and we continue to improve them. All Multnomah County has is I-84 and Airport Way. SR-500′s improvement at St. John’s Road was definitely something which should have been in the original design, but just as life changes, so do the needs of the drivers. The good thing about it here in Clark County is…our needs are being met. TriMet is trying to cram their failing service down our throat and some politicians have taken the bait.

  14. We need to stick to our guns on this issue!

  15. The West Shore Light Rail is another proposed light rail project, being championed by the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. (SIEDC). According to a news story aired on NY1 on March 8, 2007, many Staten Island residents endure very long commutes into Manhattan, and the West Shore Light Rail project would lessen this for many commuters. Beginning at the South Shore, probably near a park-and-ride in Pleasant Plains , the proposed line would run along the western shore of Staten Island. It would cross into Bayonne , New Jersey , and go over the Bayonne Bridge to connect to Hudson-Bergen Light Rail .

  16. Stacy, just a bit of information for you and the rest:

    New York City total population – 8,336,697 (which includes Staten Island @470,728 and Manhattan @1,619,090 a combined total of 2,089,818 in the two boroughs)

    Portland/Vancouver combined total population 2012 – 768,595 (Vancouver 165,489 and Portland 603,106)

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/census/popcur.shtml

    In speaking FOR the need of improvement of light rail from Staten Island to Manhattan, it is an understandable transit development given the fact you are speaking of one state and several high-density boroughs involved which some surpass the entire population of Vancouver AND Portland combined. You also have an established light rail system in Bayonne (Hudson-Bergen Light Rail). We do not here in Vancouver. Voters have repeatedly said NO.

    There, you HAVE the tax base supporting the commuter needs and vice versa. Here, we are speaking of two separate states with completely different tax bases and two separate states with their own individual transit system. C-Tran serves the needs of the people of Vancouver AND Clark County AND they remain within their budget limits. Clark County does not have the tax-based commuter support for light rail by another transit entity. They don’t even have it for their own metropolitan area. The taxpayers of Clark County are not supportive of becoming Trimet’s overflow parking lot. Simple as that.

  17. Oops…instead of “They don’t even have it for their own metropolitan area” please insert “Portland doesn’t even have it for their own metropolitan area.”

    My apology

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