Regional transportation council set to OK Crossing statement

Members air no concerns on environmental impacts

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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Another agency is poised to give its approval to the Columbia River Crossing’s draft Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Joining a growing list of regional government bodies, Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council directors on Tuesday appeared ready to pass a resolution saying the crossing project has met their concerns.

“Our role is to say ‘Has an adequate environmental process been done and have our concerns been adequately addressed,’” RTC chairman and Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman said.

None of the transportation council board members expressed specific concerns about the project’s environmental impacts, although they had several questions around tolling and finances, both of which are also mentioned in the final document, which runs more than 1,000 pages.

The draft, released in May, will go before all the agencies involved in the $3.6 billion project. The environmental impact statement is expected to be finished by the end of September; a federal Record of Decision for the project, which allows final design and construction to begin, is expected by the end of the year.

CRC Director Nancy Boyd and staff walked the board through the reasons the project is needed, including the high rate of collisions and congestion, seismic instability, and poor bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Boyd noted that the project was selected years ago by regional agencies, including the RTC, as a top priority project.

The RTC — made up of elected officials from Southwest Washington, Oregon’s regional Metro government, TriMet, C-Tran and representatives from the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation — is one of the main signatories to the Final Environmental Impact Statement. The statement will also be signed by C-Tran, TriMet, Metro and both states’ departments of transportation.

The C-Tran Board of Directors, the other signatory agency from Southwest Washington, is set to pass a resolution next Tuesday allowing Executive Director Jeff Hamm to sign the impact statement. The Vancouver City Council, which has several council members on the C-Tran and RTC boards, has also given its unofficial approval of the impact statement.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com.