In a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Transportation, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground wrote: “Oregon has no right to make Southwest Washington an unwilling piggy bank for Oregon’s infrastructure projects.” She’s right. I’d like to thank her for taking a public stand.
In July, the Oregon Legislature approved tolling “at the border” on both Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 to pay for three Portland transportation projects. None will deliver appreciable improvements in traffic congestion for Washington residents or businesses. More sadly, Oregon has proposed spending $450 million at I-5’s Rose Quarter, adding zero through lanes.
In 2016, over 72,000 Clark County citizens paid $204 million in Oregon income taxes. We’re already a “piggy bank” for Oregon, getting little in return.
Regional Transportation Board members were not consulted; no elected officials were advised. This reminds me of the Columbia River Crossing, where Gov. Kitzhaber demanded: “no light rail, no bridge.” The concerns of Southwest Washington citizens didn’t matter.
Washingtonians were paying $2 billion of the CRC’s $3.3 billion in tolls. The amount borrowed is similar, just over $1 billion in this deal. That’s $2 billion sucked out of our local economy, hurting low-wage workers the most.
“No” is what all our representatives should say. We will not be Oregon’s piggy bank.