Letter: Benton disputes Cleveland's op-ed

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In her March 17 op-ed column, "Local View: Separating CRC fact from fiction," state Sen. Annette Cleveland offered Columbian readers purported "facts" about the Columbia River Crossing project; let me share some truths.

While the replacement bridge as designed would be wider, Sen. Cleveland left out this truth: that doesn't really help until the surrounding I-5 corridor, especially on the Portland side, is also widened to prevent chokepoints.

She cites the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as an example of how adding capacity reduces travel time. The truth: That bridge's capacity was increased by building a second span alongside the original. The CRC equivalent would be to keep the two spans across the Columbia and add two, plus approaches. Also, she doesn't mention the CRC office's estimate that its $3.5 billion project would reduce travel time to Portland by only one minute.

Naturally, my Democratic colleague includes the gotta-have-light-rail-to-get-federal-funds argument CRC supporters resort to because they can't sell light rail otherwise. The truth: Bus rapid transit qualifies for the same federal dollars as light rail would. Light rail is not required.

The problem for commuters and freight-haulers is not the bridge as much as it is the corridor. Only when the CRC project addresses that truth do I give it a chance of moving forward.

Sen. Don Benton

VANCOUVER