In Sen. Don Benton’s April 2 letter to the editor, “Benton disputes Cleveland’s op-ed,” he brings up an interesting point regarding government funding for light rail. He implies that the actual light rail installation is not required to qualify for the federal funding so frequently stated; that a bus rapid-transit system would suffice to qualify for the same funds.
In none of the discussions I have read on the subject do I recall having seen where the cost of implementing the light rail alone, i.e., the cost of laying the rails and supporting infrastructure, has been defined. What would be the total Columbia River Crossing cost without the light rail construction?
If the government funding would be secured by bus rapid transit alone, could not the overall local cost of the CRC be reduced by what the light-rail construction would have been, thus reducing or eliminating the need for tolls and other supplemental funding?
We may be talking about perhaps some $800 million reduction in cost. That would seem very significant in the initial construction as well as the ongoing tax burden to support light-rail operation.
James H. Hayes