In his State of the City address, Vancouver’s current mayor anxiously wants everyone to believe the Columbia River Crossing project is beyond any reasonable criticism, and its critics are, well, unreasonable. Really?
Mayor Tim Leavitt might be more convincing if his own remarks were less overwrought. He likens our current I-5 Bridge to a “hemorrhaging … heart” which “must be operated on.” Those swayed by Leavitt’s bloody imagery are supposed to believe the $1.2 billion in federal funds expended for Vancouver light rail (unspecified in Leavitt’s speech, but reported in a Feb. 29 Columbian story) is “free” money.
This ignores the fact that spending those monies on light rail rather than on a vehicles-only CRC project boosts its currently estimated total cost by 52 percent (to $3.5 billion, from the $2.3 billion it might cost without light rail). This also ignores the fact that CRC project downtown parking garages will hold only 2,890 cars “taken off the roads” by light rail — merely 2.3 percent of the current (smaller) I-5 Bridge’s average weekday vehicle traffic for 2010. Incurring a 52 percent cost increase for a 2.3 percent benefit is but one reason for Leavitt’s desperate CRC rhetoric. The facts are against him.