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September 20, 2013 at 7:02 PM
Time is of the essence
It’s time we “double down” on our effort to get an I-5 Columbia River bridge funding agreement in place right now. [“Oregon looks at building span across Columbia on its own,” NW Sunday, Sept. 8.]
If we can’t get a Coast Guard bridge permit this fall, as well as negotiate a working agreement between our two states and the federal government to salvage this bridge in some form, an economic death spiral for this region is assured.
Local high-tech companies, as well as outside companies looking to locate here, watch in disbelief as we purposefully neglect the needs of our decaying local transportation infrastructure.
As commuter wait-times and product delivery schedules lengthen, local companies will have to seek more favorable locations for their operations. Our skilled local workforce will follow the work, as good family-wage jobs disappear from southwest Washington.
That we need a new bridge is obvious, but who believes we could really start over with another ten-year planning and permitting process?
Public projects in other states are already in line to take our earmarked federal funding. After another decade of funding projects in other states, what will be left? We need to support efforts to build a bridge now.
Edward Barnes, Vancouver
July 4, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Productivity in the United States has fallen
I must respond to the article on the Columbia River Crossing. [“Senators’ deadlock shutters Columbia crossing,” NW Tuesday, July 2.]
After years of planning and an expenditure of $175 million the bureaucrats in charge of this debacle declare failure, close down the study and walk away.
Gen. Eisenhower and his staff planned and successfully executed the Normandy Invasion, one of the most complex operations ever attempted, in June of 1944. This was only two and a half years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, the U.S. produced more than 276,000 aircraft plus countless munitions, vehicles, etc. required to wage war.
Now, our “leaders” appoint committees, perform staff studies, spend millions of our tax dollars, reach no workable design for the bridge, declare failure and walk away.
Any business that wasted $175 million of stockholder’s funds would be bankrupt and the company officers could be criminally charged for failure of their fiduciary responsibility. This is a gross waste of resources by our “representatives.”
Has the great United States of America come to this?
Robert Jones, Federal Way
July 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Congestion is a make-or-break issue
So Ken Miller, of Millennium Bulk Terminals in Longview, doesn’t believe the rail congestion is a make-or-break issue. [“Coal trains a concern for congested cities,” page one, June 30.]
Many would disagree with that. If Millennium Bulk builds out to full capacity, there will be a minimum of 16 unit trains per day, clogging 4 intersections in the Longview industrial area.
Traffic is already congested, due to the existing businesses on that corridor. One important rail crossing would block access to the Lewis and Clark bridge, connecting Oregon and Washington.
It is estimated that at rush hour, the last car in line to cross the bridge would need 45 minutes, accounting for traffic signals and backup. St. John’s Hospital serves the entire region; one wonders how many babies will be born on top of the bridge because the mom couldn’t get to the hospital! The same holds true for emergency services reaching the other side of the tracks.
Remedies for this congestion will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, with the benefits going to a company that wants to exacerbate climate change.
Stop the coal trains now!
Gayle Kiser, president of Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, Longview
July 2, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Toll business is extortion
I just want to extend a shout-out to Mike Lindblom’s article in Monday’s paper. [“Bridge drivers could get easier ride in state toll court,” page one, July 1.]
Thanks for exposing the extorting toll business in Washington, as the new state resident, Jami Andersh, had shared in the article.
All of our cars are registered, but we put off adding a new car, since we don’t cross the Highway 520 bridge too often and have paid the bills as they come in. We recently got a penalty, when we always pay these bills with an automatic account.
What do this Good to Go transponders really reveal? How do we really know that there is such a need for expenses on this bridge? Who is watching where the money goes and what comes in for all these penalties and tolls?
For whom does the bell “toll”? Not for the people.
Karen Gonzalez, Redmond
June 20, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Speed of construction is unimpressive
“I can’t imagine this being done any faster,” says Don Wick of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County. [“Less than month after collapse, temporary I-5 bridge is finished,” NW Wednesday, June 19.]Well, Mr. Wick, 50-plus years ago, we army engineers built Bailey bridges overnight, using nothing but hand labor. That included all the design and foundation work. Of course, we didn’t have federal and state regulations in those days.
Adam Lloyd, Burien
June 3, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Finally, a jolt of reality in the realm of Washington state transportation [“Bill would restrict permits on oversized trucks,” NWFriday, May 31]. The demise of a span of the I-5 Skagit River bridge has focused attention on aging infrastructure. As a civil engineer, it has been clear to me for quite some time that maintenance, repair and upgrades to infrastructure are not sexy, and few politicians and government policymakers have the fortitude to fight for basic infrastructure needs. One has only to rattle down the numerous arterials in Seattle to see that the sexier striping for bikes is the only “improvement” these roads have seen in years.
Hopefully, the Skagit River bridge collapse will refocus spending to address the obvious. Mobility for freight and people is vital to our economy. The price tag to replace the destroyed span has been pegged at $15 million. That is peanuts compared with the $2.1 to $2.9 billion spent on Sound Transit’s Central Link Light Rail (Tukwila to Westlake Center), including a $500 million federal grant, or $150 million per mile at the lower end of the scale. What did that investment purchase? In the first quarter of 2013, the weekday average ridership on Sound Transit’s Central Link Light Rail was 25,606. Compare that with the more than 70,000 daily trips across the Skagit River bridge stated in news reports, and those are not necessarily single-occupancy vehicles.
The bridge collapse is a reality check that we need to fix our infrastructure. Forget sexy; focus on moving vehicles safely and efficiently (There is even an environmental benefit to such thinking, but that’s another story). Focus on the economy served by these vehicles. Think about the impacts to business when sexy (mass transit and bikes, for instance) blinds policy, design and transportation-spending strategies. It’s time to wake up.
Susan Gardner, Kenmore
Raise gas tax
After the Skagit River I-5 collapse, is there any reason not to raise the gas tax? For crying out loud, let’s get on with it. Shame on the Legislature for dithering.
At my local gas station, the price per gallon has cycled up and down by 30 cents a couple of times in the past 90 days. Any legislative increase would be lost in the “noise” of the market-force changes, meaning any tax increase would essentially be invisible.
Let’s be brave and talk about an increase that will really produce results — not 2 cents per year for five years, but 5 cents per year for four years.
I would happily pay for it, happily vote for those who support it and happily campaign against those who don’t.
Clark Douglas, Mount Vernon
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