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Two Views: There's still support across river for CRC

Groundwork's done; it's time to move forward on new I-5 bridge


President Abraham Lincoln fittingly stated, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

The Columbia River Crossing project is the construction of a new, 10-lane interstate bridge, five new interchanges and about one mile of light-rail transit into downtown Vancouver.

In December 2011, the federal government issued a Record of Decision on the CRC project. This nod of approval follows a lengthy and expensive effort to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The achievement of the ROD was necessarily challenging. The feds, justifiably, demand an exhaustive and comprehensive evaluation of these types of multimodal megaprojects. For nearly two decades, this project has been conceptualized, alternatives studied and re-studied, layouts designed and re-designed, and expert independent reviews conducted and re-conducted.

Of paramount importance, during the NEPA process hundreds of meetings were conducted with all stakeholders, including: our neighbors; community advocates and critics; business owners and job creators; pedestrian, bicycle and transit advocates; mayors, county commissioners and city councilors; and state and federal representatives. Thousands of hours were expended by our fellow citizens to learn, critique, review and provide valuable input on the project. For that, we have a better project, and one that is now eligible to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal support.

I urge those interested in better understanding the CRC project to visit the website columbiarivercrossing.org. Plan to spend a bit of time studying the site and documents, as there is represented more than $180 million in professional and expert studies/assessment/design.

In light of all the effort, all the input and critique, there are some who don’t agree. While we are all entitled to our opinion, we are not entitled to our own facts.

Some in our community continue a campaign of misleading and manipulating the public about the facts, in order to justify their opinions as legitimate. The few, loud minority do not represent the majority of our residents. This statement is reaffirmed by the results of our recent local elections that positioned four Vancouver City Council members who all agree with this important investment.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and leadership in both Oregon legislative houses are to be commended for their continued advocacy and determination to see that this important investment in our region — jobs, mobility and connectivity, safety and commerce — comes to fruition.

As a reminder, each and every body of elected officials (representing hundreds of thousands of citizens) in Southwest Washington that have a direct stake in this project has voted and taken action in the affirmative: The city of Vancouver, the C-TRAN board, the Regional Transportation Council, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, leadership from the local high-tech industry, and many, many other business and community leaders.

Recently, Washington state Sen. Annette Cleveland (the 49th legislative district, Vancouver) delivered a letter to Oregon signed by more than a majority of Washington state legislators in support of the project. Furthermore, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington continues to champion our needs in Washington, D.C., and, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee continues to back this project.

In other words, to the governor and Legislature of Oregon, I say this: You have partners — important and relevant — on this side of the Columbia River. We stand with you and respect your courage to make the right decision.

The CRC project is necessary. No project of this nature is perfect, but this is a balance of many issues. The facts, the financing and the process prove that the CRC is the right project, at the right cost, and the right time.

Now, not tomorrow.

Tim Leavitt is in his second term as mayor of Vancouver, Wash. He was appointed to the Vancouver City Council in 2003 and elected as mayor in 2009.