Sunday, February 24, 2013

HB 2800 (CRC): A letter to my State Representative

Representative [ ],

I'm writing to express my great disappointment with the news that you will support HB 2800, endorsing construction of the Columbia River Crossing.  That highway project will have long term adverse consequences for the district, for the city of Portland and the state of Oregon.  The project benefits you cited are of marginal value:

- Light rail to Vancouver benefits Vancouver, not us.

- As a tool for managing demand tolling is inferior to existing capacity constraints.  Do you really mean to say you support building a new bridge because it will lead to fewer vehicle trips than occur now?  We should embark on the most expensive capital project in Oregon history so that it can provide less than existing service?  Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say the CRC will be a disincentive to suburban sprawl?

- The construction industry will indeed benefit from spending 450 million dollars.  But what does that have to do with the CRC?  $450M would benefit the construction industry just as much if it were spent on seismic upgrades to our schools.  Or on building a better tsunami evacuation system.  Or on rewiring our electrical system to better integrate renewable energy.  Or any number of pressing infrastructure needs that you know better than me.  Why not spend that kind of money on something that brightens our future rather than darkens it?

The supposed conditions you cited for your support are small comfort.  You claim your support was conditional on tolling I-205, and two paragraphs later admit there will be no tolling on I-205.  What stock can we put in those conditions when they don't even last through your email?  Why should we believe you will react tomorrow to what is plainly obvious today?

Supporting HB 2800 while hiding behind conditions you won't or can't enforce is passing the buck.  It puts us in the position of waiting for someone else to do the right thing and pull the plug on this project.  That is not what I sent you to Salem to do.

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