The billion-dollar question is: Who initiated it, and when was light rail included in the plans for the Columbia River Crossing bridge?
Light-rail history from author Randal O’Toole’s book, “The Best Laid Plans,” (page 151) states that former mayor of Portland, Neil Goldschmidt, canceled construction of a planned freeway, then funneled the funds into Portland’s first light rail. His reward? A huge fee for brokering a back-door deal awarding construction giant Bechtel a no-bid contract to build a light-rail project. In 2004 the term “Light-Rail Mafia” was tossed around by journalists, planners and elected officials to describe Goldschmidt-connected people.
O’Toole also writes (page 154), that in May of 2006 then Portland commissioner Sam Adams announced that success of the waterfront district depended on spending $550 million on a new light-rail line from downtown Portland to Milwaukee. In a Feb. 4 Columbian story “Herrera Beutler may try to block CRC light rail,” Adams is quoted as saying “no light rail, no bridge.” Clark County residents deserve an independent audit of all monies spent by Washington and Oregon on the CRC project. David Evans and Associates delayed being audited because it would probably have revealed trade secrets. This is not acceptable. It should be asked, “Who is guarding our tax dollars?”
Harvey D. Olson