It is becoming common knowledge that the Columbia River Crossing Project is falling apart as more and more, people open their eyes to the lack of transparency long associated with it and the many false claims used in promoting it.
From poorly designed plans to calls for tolls on top of tolls, increasing gas taxes and license fees on cars to come up with funding for it, people are waking up and standing up against it.
Tired of being silenced, marginalized and just outright ignored, those of us who will long be on the hook to pay for a light rail carrier we have rejected have been pushing back, defeating funding measures associated with CRC and electing officials who are willing to scrutinize the project.
None of that has fazed one of the strongest proponents of the CRC, 49th Legislative District Representative, Democrat Jim Moeller, quite possible the single most arrogant person elected to our state legislature.
As already posted, he and fellow Democrats from the 49th are holding what can only be described as a “Kangaroo Townhall” this coming weekend in a desperate attempt to rebuild support as proponents enlightened to the truth of project are switching sides and coming out against the boondoggle.
But a “Kangaroo Townhall” doesn’t seem to be enough for Moeller as today, in response to a document released by StopCRC, I received a document Moeller is circulating up in Olympia as even those expected to side with him in the legislature are falling out.
As you can see, Moeller claims the purpose of his document is to “clear up some misconceptions” regarding the CRC with a two page attachment of what he labels “myths.” In reality, they are “truths” that he doesn’t want known.
For instance, “Myth A, The CRC has a poor track record.”
Over a decade, nearly $170 Million spent and cannot even come up with a bridge design acceptable to the US Coast Guard due to inadequate river traffic clearance is not a myth. It is what we have seen unfold as desperate proponents now try to “mitigate? The Coast Guard into caving and approving the lowest point on the river for traffic that will cost upriver businesses some $116 Million in profits, hamper future growth and even prevent the US Army Corps of Engineers dredge from clearing to do work upriver.
“Myth B, The CRC is a waste of taxpayer funds.”
What can be said except, DUH! Slated to cost $3.5 Billion, paid for largely out of tolls that may reach $8 per crossing, sucking up $170 Million with one contractor already receiving three times the agreed upon ceiling is what but a waste?
“Myth C, Light Rail is not required for transit funding.”
Light Rail being a requirement was one of the first lies exposed coming from CRC. We actually have two admissions showing that light rail is not a requirement.
At a June 2, 2009 meeting of the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, also a strong proponent of the CRC said, “it is not legally true that you must have a multi modal project to get approval or funding from Federal Highway Administration. There has been a lot who have said it because they believe that functionally, it would be necessary to have a project.”
Again, in a January 2010 response to a request for documents from Tonja L. Gleason C.P.A., Public Disclosure Coordinator for the CRC we read, “There are no documents in our possession that claim that the federal government requires light rail as a part of the CRC project.”
“Myth D, Tolls will take away from our local economy.”
With the estimation by then mayoral candidate Tim Leavitt in 2009 of tolls reaching $8 per crossing and the recent effort by rookie 49th Legislative District State Senator Annette Cleveland of desiring to add a toll on top of the planned toll, how will that not take away from our local economy?
The more commuters must pay out the less they have to contribute to our local economy, it’s just that simple.
“Myth E, The CRC is a job killer.”
As already shown, the insufficient bridge height can only hamper job growth upriver for companies dependent upon the river for shipping their goods that many may no longer fit under the bridge.”
In addition, numerous businesses downtown Vancouver and likely on Hayden Island will be destroyed to accommodate the bridges as well as multi-million dollar parking garages for commuters to drive the distance to catch light rail near the river and that are to be offered free.
Construction of the bridge will most likely be primarily by an out of area contractor who will bring most of their own seasoned workers for the project with hopefully a small handful of local jobs, if any.
“Myth F, River Traffic is of vital importance.”
I’m sure many businesses located upriver will be pleased to see their importance to the community is considered a “myth,” by Jim Moeller.
We also see from a September 20, 2012 Columbian Article, “In the Coast Guard letter, Rear Adm. Taylor urged the project planners to consider river users’ needs based on recent data, not a 2004 survey he said ‘was not comprehensive.’ His letter also suggested the CRC should focus more on changing its own design before expecting river users to change because of it.”
“It’s not incumbent upon the users to adapt. They’re there operating on the river today,” Overton said. An ideal first step, he added, ‘is to avoid those impacts altogether’.”
Apparently, Moeller forgot, or wants to hide that the bridge cannot be built without US Coast Guard approval.
“Myth G, The Columbia River Interstate Bridge is not the problem.”
Here Moeller floats the disproved claim, “the bridge is structurally at risk in an earthquake.”
The spans are not listed on the WSDOT Structurally Deficient Bridge list.
A 2006 CRC Report where they commissioned a “panel of experts” to perform a seismic assessment said it was “technically feasible” to upgrade the spans and at a much lower estimated cost than we are now facing.
CRC proponents often float the notion of a 9.0 earthquake would cause bridge collapse. Stop and think, what would be left standing if we ever did experience that strong of an earthquake? Additionally, if that were to happen, light rail would not be functional while twisted and protruding tracks would likely hamper emergency vehicles trying to move around to those in need.
As anybody who travels the bridge realizes, the real bottleneck is further south. Coming back north, traffic begins thinning out by mid-span and is up to speed as you exit the bridge.
Clearly the congestion problems are caused by bottlenecks inside of Oregon that they do not wish to address.
“Myth H, The BNSF Railroad bridge offers a better solution.”
Debatable, but even admitted by Jim Moeller himself, a realignment of the rail bridge to line the swinging portion of it in line with the hump in the Interstate Bridge will reduce bridge lifts.
And let us not forget, he also floated above the river traffic is of no great importance as well as proponents floated the notion recently of making the new bridge spans a draw bridge as well to compensate for the restrictive height.
“Myth I, CRC lacks vision.”
Since day one, the CRC’s singular focus has been bringing light rail into Clark County against the wishes of voters who defeated it directly in 1995. What sort of “vision” is it to ignore many problems and citizens voices with the focus remaining only on carrying light rail?
That one notion is why CRC is having a problem obtaining the necessary Coast Guard permit to begin construction, light rail cannot make it over the grade required for adequate river clearance.
If that isn’t “lack of vision,” I don’t know what is.
“Myth J, There is a lack of support by voters.”
Possibly the most ludicrous of all of Jim Moeller’s lies.
Feb 1995 – Clark County is a halfhearted participant in metropolitan planning schemes, despite recent growth-management legislation in the state of Washington, and its voters in February 1995 overwhelmingly declined to pay for a trans-Columbia light-rail link. Clark County’s politics are sympathetic to sprawling residential and commercial development, while Washington’s lack of a state income tax attracts many of the area’s entrepreneurially minded residents.
A state-wide Resolution Bill 51 for transportation improvements was seen largely as a back door approval for funding light rail and was rejected state wide in the 2002 general election.
November 2004 voters defeated a sales tax increase in Proposition 1 in the general election. Part of the statement against in the 2004 voters’ pamphlet says, “C-Tran contributed $3,000,000 out of the $65,000,000 cost for I-5 HOV lanes. Now Clark County Commissioners can ask taxpayers to raise car license fees for additional tax dollars; possibly paving the way for light rail.”
“C-Tran paid over $3,000,000 for light rail studies. Portland owns the MAX gravy train. Washington taxpayers will pay a percentage of Tri-Met’s total transit costs even if only one inch of light rail crosses the river; more Clark County taxation without representation!”
In 2005, it was brought back and passed with a gerrymandered sub-district, eliminating over half of the county voters in precincts shown to oppose light rail and raising taxes to fund it from the 2004 vote.
November 2012, another Proposition 1 to fund light rail operations & maintenance and once again seen as a proxy vote on light rail itself was defeated by a 56.51% to 43.49% vote. Proponents immediately began claiming it was not a vote on light rail itself as they seek a way to bypass voters or gerrymander another sub-district to enable passing.
If there is voter support for light rail, why then does Jim Moeller and other proponents continue to deny voters another direct vote on it?
Jim Moeller has shown himself totally out of touch with the wants and needs of Clark County citizens and has expressed his desire to cater to that “economic powerhouse” south of the river.
He has sued constituents to invalidate our votes when he doesn’t like them.
And now he is resorting to outright lies to push us into a project we continue to scream we do not want, while making us pay for it.
This is not a Representative, it is the act of a dictator.
Don’t let yourselves be fooled by this pack of lies he is circulating.
UPDATE: Tiffany Couch has released her own rebuttal of Jim Moeller’s claims.