Clark County commissioners mull advisory vote despite CRC's demise

Madore proposes resolution to gauge voters' opinion of high-capacity transit

By Erik Hidle, Columbian staff writer

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The Columbia River Crossing project is dead, but that doesn't mean an advisory vote won't end up on your November ballot.

Clark County commissioners have mulled the idea of holding an advisory vote on the project for months. First prompted by Republican Commissioner David Madore, the vote was intended to give residents of Clark County a chance to voice a simple yes-or-no opinion on the project that was to have created a new span to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.

But the project met its end in late June when funding failed to materialize in the Washington Legislature.

Still, Madore wants to give citizens a vote.

Madore presented a proposed resolution at Wednesday's board time meeting that asks voters to indicate their opinion on high-capacity transit, which has been considered for C-Tran's Fourth Plain route.

"Should any new transportation project focus on high-capacity transit or should it focus on a new freight corridor?" Madore said, formulating the purpose behind such a vote.

The idea was met with requests by his fellow commissioners, Republican Tom Mielke and Democrat Steve Stuart, to think on it for a week.

Mielke said he wants to see something on the ballot, as he believes the Columbia River Crossing project will be resurrected in some capacity. But he's not sure what that ballot question should be quite yet.

Stuart said he is currently reflecting on the situation, and he, too, wants to

wait to decide how the county should move forward.

In a nearly 20-minute exchange, the commissioners had one of their most substantial talks on a crossing over the Columbia River since Madore joined the board in January.

During that talk, Stuart said if the county does take action, he's hoping to avoid "demonizing" language on the matter.

"(The question is) can we all wrap our brains around a single problem we're trying to solve," Stuart asked.

Madore seemed to agree that the "problem-solver" approach was the proper avenue to explore.

Commissioners agreed to discuss the matter next week.

Commissioners have until Aug. 6 to craft proposed language for a ballot measure.

Erik Hidle: 360-735-4547; http://twitter.com/col_clarkgov; erik.hidle@columbian.com.