Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it.” The Columbia River Crossing is such a dilemma. Oregon is proposing to resurrect the same proposal that was killed by the Washington Legislature. The sticking point is light rail.
Numerous newspaper reports in recent weeks highlight the dire condition of America’s bridges. We don’t have nearly enough money to fix all of them. How, then, can Oregon and Washington justify spending the extra billion in federal dollars for light rail over the I-5 bridge? Isn’t it beyond selfish to take those resources away from other bridges that desperately need them? Yes, fix the I-5 bridge, but not at the cost of lives that may be lost elsewhere when those bridges collapse because we squandered the money on light rail that Clark County residents neither want nor can afford to maintain.
Deleting light rail from the CRC won’t preclude light rail from Clark County’s future. The Glenn Jackson Bridge on Interstate 205 is already engineered to accommodate it. The priority should be to construct a safe bridge across the Columbia River.
Einstein was right. Govs. John Kitzhaber and Jay Inslee need to rethink this issue and elevate their level of thinking if they really want a solution to this divisive problem.