Portland and Vancouver Mayors Sam Adams and Tim Leavitt and Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart have joined forces with Metro President David Bragdon, issuing a strongly-worded letter this week to the Oregon and Washington governors that seeks to assert more local control over the Columbia River Crossing bridge.
Though the local leaders, who are members of CRC bigwig oversight group the Project Sponsors Council, pledge their support to building a new bridge across the river, they write "we believe that cost, physical and environmental elements of the project as currently proposed impose unacceptable impacts on our communities." Zing! The letter continues, "These impacts, in combination with the project's high cost and financial risks and questions about whether important objectives will be achieved make support for the project difficult."
The local leaders demand that the state governors create develop clear performance goals for the project and come up with a financing plan that "protects local taxpayers and road users." The letter adds that the bridge's financial plan needs to be fair and not "cannibalize funding" for other important transportation projects.
The letter is timed for release just before this Friday's upcoming Project Sponsors Council meeting. The last Project Sponsors Council in December was attended by over 100 protesters, including some who were forced to check their protest signs at the door. Political gridlock on the $650 million in cuts to the bridge project led to the Council to delay their vote on the bridge until the next meeting this Friday.
Since December and now, vociferously pro-bridge Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard has been replaced by the newly-elected Tim Leavitt, who signed onto this letter. PDF of letter here.
Updates below the cut.
- Protestors at December CRC meeting
Update 4:29 pm— “It’s important that leaders at the level of both states understand that there is consensus at the local level that there is a smarter way forward,” says Adams’ spokesman Roy Kauffman. Rather than having Adams or Bragdon go it alone in opposition to the current plan, having four local leaders sign onto a letter builds the idea that there is widespread opposition to the bridge among those in the know.
Metro Council President candidates Bob Stacey and Rex Burkholder, who have split over CRC issues in the past, both quickly came out in support of the letter, though Stacey used the opportunity to attack his opponent.
“David Bragdon has consistently been asking the tough questions about the
CRC ever since he replaced Rex Burkholder as Metro’s representative on the
bridge project,” read a hard-hitting press release from Stacey’s campaign. “These are the questions Rex failed to pursue on behalf of our region.”
But Burkholder says he agrees with the problems spelled out in the letter about the need for clear performance goals and a more realistic financing plan. “I’ve never been tied to a particular project, but I support a project. This gets us closer,” says Burkholder.