Labor group resolution praises CRC effort

Document a way to express gratitude, group chair Ed Barnes says

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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A local labor group on Friday passed a resolution expressing gratitude to hundreds of individuals and organizations that worked on the defunct Columbia River Crossing project.

The Labor Round Table of Southwest Washington approved a lengthy document outlining a chronology of the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement and conveying "deep appreciation to the many people who contributed their time and effort to the CRC project."

Clark County Commissioner Ed Barnes, the labor group's chair and one of the resolution's authors, said it was drafted at least partly in response to a steady stream of criticism against the CRC both before and since its demise.

"Nobody's thanking the people that spent the last 15 years working on this thing," Barnes said.

After repeated delays, setbacks and missteps, the CRC completely shut down earlier this year without any funding or enough political support in the Washington and Oregon legislatures. The project's implosion ended years of controversy and political wrangling in Clark County and beyond. The CRC spent some $200 million without turning a shovel.

The resolution passed Friday detailed the effort's history as far back as 1996, when business and transportation leaders from Washington and Oregon met to discuss the I-5 corridor. The first committees were established in 1999, and the CRC project office formed in 2005.

Attached to the resolution is a 14-page list of players past and present who were involved in the CRC at some point.

The resolution was also circulated to Vancouver City Council members — most of whom were supportive of the CRC — but hasn't gained enough traction to land on an agenda.

Even before Friday, the document rankled some CRC opponents. State Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, wrote on her Facebook page that she was saddened to see the resolution "for the failed and highly flawed CRC project."

"This resolution does nothing to repair damaged relationships or foster an environment where new cross river transportation solutions can be identified, and new bistate partnerships can be built," Pike wrote. "Rather, the resolution perpetuates a culture of hatred."

Also against the CRC were Barnes' colleagues at the county, commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke. Madore is among those now pushing for a proposed east county bridge at Northeast 192nd Avenue.

Barnes said the CRC resolution highlights the number of local, state and federal partners a major project needs to get off the ground — and haven't materialized for the new proposal, he added.

"It isn't just as simple as saying we're going to build an east county bridge," Barnes said.