Clackamas County set to vote on anti-CRC resolution – UPDATED

Clackamas County set to vote on anti-CRC resolution – UPDATED

John Ludlow, Chair of Clackamas
County Board of
Commissioners.

A draft resolution that is expected to be voted on by the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners on Thursday could make them the first government body to take a position against the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project. The draft resolution has been published to the Board’s website and we’ve pasted the full text below.

If it passes (assuming it’s even brought up for a vote), it would be just the latest symbol that the facade of inevitability for the project that has been strategically promoted by staff and backers for years, might finally be starting to crack.

Here’s the text of the resolution (emphases mine):

RESOLUTION NO. _________________________

RESOLUTION TO OPPOSE THE

COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING (CRC)

known as the I-5 BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT

WHEREAS, the nearly $10-Billion Dollars of fully burdened total cost, including all interest that result from the CRC Project, this will create significant losses of State and Federal Funding opportunities for our future City and County transportation infrastructure needs; and

WHEREAS, new fees and taxes will likely be required and imposed upon our citizenry with the opportunity for voter approval; and

WHERE AS, there is abundant evidence of widespread and overwhelming public opposition; and

WHEREAS, there are better plans available which will provide significant savings and gain public support; and

WHEREAS, we (elected officials) are obligated to speak up for our citizenry and to protect vital future funding sources; and

WHEREAS, it is important for elected officials to stand up and be counted on what me be the largest transportation project in the state history.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE BOARD OF CLACKAMAS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

The Board of Clackamas County Commissioners hereby directs the Clackamas County Administrator, to notify all of those concerned with the CRC Project (also known as the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project), including ODOT, WDOT, TriMet, C-Tran, Metro, City of Portland, The City of Vancouver, the Washington and Oregon Governors offices, both State Legislatures and the congressional delegations that:

The Board of Clackamas County Commissioners strongly objects to commit any funding to the Columbia River Crossing Project as currently planned; And

That the Board of Clackamas County Commissioners urges all other Oregon and Washington Counties and Cities to stand up and be counted on the important matter.

INTRODUCED AND ADOPTED this 7th day of February, 2013.

John Ludlow, Chair of the Board of Clackamas County Commissioners

Clackamas County is known around the region for their vehement opposition to “Portland creep” and light rail; but it’s amazing to note how similar their arguments against the CRC project are to the Portland-based non-profits and citizen activists that also oppose it. Strange bedfellows indeed.

“As others are asked to come up with money — or see that the project will jeopardize funding for things they want — we are likely to see a lot more resistance.”
— Joe Cortright, economist

Also important to note is that there are two new commissioners on the Board, both of whom were expected to shake things up. The new Chair of the Board, John Ludlow, told The Oregonian after the elections in November: “I think we need to become real participatory partners with Metro instead of being stepchildren and being told what to do. Clackamas County has its own ideas about what to do with growth, density and transportation.”

Reached for reaction to this resolution, outspoken critic of the CRC project and noted economist Joe Cortright said, “I think its a big deal.”

“It signals that other folks around the region — and around the state — are recognizing that if CRC goes forward, it will essentially suck up every available dollar of transportation money, and all the other projects people want will have to get in line behind ‘finishing’ the CRC.”

Cortright also said if the resolution is passed, it might give Clackamas County state legislators and federal representatives reason for pause when it comes to voting on CRC funding legislation.

For years, CRC project staff and backers have relied on the image of a broad consensus of support for the project as a way to make it politically palatable. This resolution could spark an erosion of that regional consensus (especially if we see other governmental bodies follow suit) which would pose a very big problem for the project overall.

Cortright sees this opposition from Clackamas a sign of things to come:

“For the past 7 years, CRC has pitched the project as a giant gift to the region. Recall that nobody, anywhere, has voted even a dime for the construction of this project. Now it’s getting real. Clark County [Washington] had the first vote on the matter and went 56/44 against CRC. As others are asked to come up with money — or see that the project will jeopardize funding for things they want — we are likely to see a lot more resistance.”

UPDATE, 2/6 at 9:30 am: We have confirmed with the Clackamas County Administration Office that this resolution will be brought up tomorrow and voted on.

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