Camp Bonneville cleanup is still stalled for talks

By Erik Robinson April 25, 2011 6 a.m.

Army and Clark County officials are trying to forge a new agreement for converting a former artillery range into a future county park. Next month marks a year since Clark County sidelined its primary cleanup contractor after the removal of unexploded ordnance stalled over cost overruns and funding disputes. In 2006, the Army provided $28.6 million under a fixed-price contract.

Researchers focus on helping lowly lamprey

By Erik Robinson April 21, 2011 6 a.m.

PORTLAND — Lamprey may lack the iconic status of Northwest salmon, but the eel-like jawless fish is no less important to tribal culture. Alarmed by their dwindling populations, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission this week is hosting an international forum exploring the causes of their decline and how to revive them. Dams impede lamprey migration, pollutants mar the sediment where they rear, and their prey in the ocean may be thinning with overfishing and a changing climate.

Hazel Dell couple buy property to halt subdivision from being built

By Erik Robinson April 20, 2011 6 a.m.

Hazel Dell resident Darrel Santesson was as outraged as the rest of his neighbors when a developer proposed wedging 10 homes on a 1 ½-acre lot just across the street. Santesson and his wife, Norma, ultimately figured there was only one sure-fire way to protect the property: by purchasing it themselves.

$1M cleanup of former scrap metal yard nearly done

By Erik Robinson April 19, 2011 6 a.m.

A former metal scrapping yard in west Vancouver, its soil tainted by a half-century of industrial pollution, is about to get a clean bill of health — courtesy of taxpayers. Contractors have nearly finished a $1 million taxpayer-funded cleanup of the former Cliff Koppe Metals site at 1701 W. Fourth Plain Blvd., according to the Washington Department of Transportation.

Students do field study of amphibians, learn basics of research

By Erik Robinson April 16, 2011 6 a.m.

BRUSH PRAIRIE — A driving rain provided ideal conditions for the amphibians living in the two ponds behind a set of high school classrooms. Even though the conditions weren’t so great for the students in teachers Irene Catlin and Chris Collmer’s science class Thursday, three-dozen ninth-graders made the best out of the situation. The students collected traps containing native salamanders and non-native bullfrogs, part of a six-year amphibian monitoring study conducted at the Battle Ground school district’s unique natural area.

C-Tran will ask only for bus funds in 2011

By Erik Robinson April 13, 2011 6 a.m.

Clark County voters will decide on maintaining bus service this year but will have to wait until 2012 to vote on light rail, C-Tran’s board of directors decided Tuesday evening. The board will put forward a ballot measure on Nov. 8 asking voters to bump the sales tax by 0.2 of a percentage point to preserve existing bus service, add some new routes and shore up C-Van service for riders with disabilities. Such an increase would cost consumers 2 cents on every $10 purchase.

Fire destroys Marble Mountain snow shelter

By Erik Robinson April 11, 2011 7:08 p.m.

A popular warming shelter burned to the ground early Saturday at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park near Mount St. Helens. The cause is unknown and under investigation.

State gets a rail-funding bonanza

By Erik Robinson April 9, 2011 6 a.m.

Washington officially scored another $145 million in federal high-speed rail funding this week. The money had been rejected by newly elected governors in Ohio and Wisconsin. The latest federal commitment includes $10 million for 1,300 feet of new track in Vancouver.

Clark County residents would see effects of government shutdown

By Kathie Durbin and Erik Robinson April 8, 2011 6 a.m.

The looming potential government shutdown would have subtle and not-so-subtle effects on Clark County residents. National wildlife refuges would be gated, but essential services would carry on as usual.

Old cabin cruiser may be doomed

By Erik Robinson April 8, 2011 6 a.m.

A vacant vessel that dragged its anchor and impaled itself last month on a set of pilings off the eastern tip of Tomahawk Island has been freed, in a manner of speaking. The Columbia River appears to have taken matters into its own hands.

Thunderstorms, hail, put Clark County on ice

By John Branton and Erik Robinson April 7, 2011 6 a.m.

Is the weather around here great or what? In spring’s marvelous unpredictability, some parts of Clark County on Wednesday were hit by roaming thunderstorms, including some that dropped blasts of hail and snow, and contributed to several noninjury or minor-injury traffic accidents.

State to continue patching I-5 bridge over Lewis

By Erik Robinson April 7, 2011 6 a.m.

An Interstate 5 bridge near Woodland doesn’t get nearly the notoriety of the I-5 bridge across the Columbia River. But the northbound span across the North Fork of the Lewis River has created plenty of traffic headaches in the past several years. Workers are patching potholes on the concrete bridge deck six to eight times per year, a rate that state transportation officials say is well above average.

DOT appoints new director for crossing

By Erik Robinson April 6, 2011 6 a.m.

A veteran transportation administrator from Olympia has been appointed director of the Columbia River Crossing office in Vancouver. Nancy Boyd, who previously served as deputy state design engineer, was appointed to the position by Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.

State may look into private bridge funding

By Erik Robinson April 3, 2011 6 a.m.

As engineers finalize the design of a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River, the next big step will be coming up with the money to build it. Planners have long anticipated a three-way split between the federal government, the two states and local revenue generated by bridge tolls to cover the $3.6 billion project, which also includes the extension of a light-rail line into Clark County as well as dozens of elevated ramps and overpasses on five miles of I-5 in Oregon and Washington.

Fourth Plain: Journey or destination?

By Erik Robinson April 3, 2011 6 a.m.

C-Tran is proposing a bus rapid transit line intended to whisk people through Vancouver’s Fourth Plain corridor on elongated buses with quick stops and dedicated lanes. But what if you don’t necessarily want people to zoom by?

March brings substantial snowpack

By Erik Robinson April 1, 2011 10:22 a.m.

All that nasty March weather brought much-needed snow to the Cascades.

Fourth Plain group to host meeting on bus plan

By Erik Robinson March 30, 2011 6 a.m.

A newly formed business coalition will host a presentation this evening on the proposed bus rapid transit line envisioned along Fourth Plain Boulevard. The Fourth Plain Business Coalition will host the meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the community meeting room at Vancouver’s west police precinct office at 2800 N.E. Stapleton Road. It’s free and open to the public.

What's Up with That? Money was there; project waited for a new plan

By Erik Robinson March 30, 2011 6 a.m.

For quite some time a plan was discussed to build an overpass for Saint John’s Road at SR500, with construction scheduled to start January 2011. Since I have not observed any construction activity in that vicinity, I assume that project is on hold because of our state’s financial situation. Would you provide the current plan for that project?

Crockett to be contained

By Erik Robinson March 29, 2011 6 a.m.

Contractors are now planning to dismantle the beached and broken Davy Crockett right where it sits. Workers will encircle the 431-foot barge with a cofferdam, forming an enclosed area, and take it apart piece by piece. The original plan of floating it away to a dry dock proved to be untenable, marking another setback in an operation that’s already the most expensive shipwreck in Washington history.

Agencies tread water on derelict vessels

By Erik Robinson March 28, 2011 6 a.m.

PORTLAND — Another week, another stranded vessel on the Columbia River. A small boat now teeters unevenly at the eastern tip of Hayden Island, impaled on the piers of a wing dam. It marks the latest in a spate of groundings over the past couple of months between Vancouver and Portland.

Army Corps could become city tenant

By Erik Robinson March 26, 2011 6 a.m.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has its eye on a 3-acre gravel lot near Marine Park in Vancouver as a home office for 10 full-time employees coordinating major corps construction projects in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The city-owned lot, at 4400 S.E. Columbia Way, would accommodate a pair of modular office buildings.

Lucky Lager logo distinguishes building

By Erik Robinson March 24, 2011 6 a.m.

It’s been more than a decade since Lucky Lager’s gleaming red “L” towered over downtown Vancouver. On Wednesday, the iconic symbol of Vancouver’s landmark brewery re-emerged on the north facade of a downtown building struggling to define itself as a landmark in its own right.

Scouts with shrub seedlings swarm Steigerwald Lake

By Erik Robinson March 20, 2011 6 a.m.

WASHOUGAL — Steigerwald Lake’s gradual conversion from 20th-century cattle pasture to ecological oasis continued apace on Saturday. Dozens of children and chaperones set out on a chilly but sun-splashed morning on the newly constructed trail at the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge to plant a few hundred native shrubs.

Engineering a new generation at MESA Day

By Erik Robinson March 19, 2011 10:37 p.m.

With a flick of a spring-loaded plastic spoon, Mountain View High School students Arnikan Baleswaran and Ervin Fleming sent a marshmallow flying. The projectile banged against a classroom door and then came to rest in the hallway.

Group forms in support of new I-5 bridge

By Erik Robinson March 18, 2011 6 a.m.

A coalition headed by two local businessmen is starting a campaign in support of a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River. The group intends to campaign for a pair of C-Tran ballot measures to boost the sales tax in Clark County to improve bus service and operate an extension of Portland’s light-rail transit system on a new I-5 bridge.

Wayward houseboat saga grows more murky

By Erik Robinson March 17, 2011 6 a.m.

A wayward houseboat remained intact and afloat near the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, but the fate of a sunken cruiser alongside the houseboat appeared bleak. Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Fred Neiman said the houseboat appeared to be in good condition.

Houseboat, sunken vessel pose problems

By Erik Robinson March 16, 2011 6 a.m.

RIDGEFIELD — Most area residents are probably familiar with the story of the ill-fated Davy Crockett, beached and broken on the Columbia River shoreline. Not every languishing boat turns into a multimillion-dollar federal recovery effort, but there are no shortage of mini-Crocketts.

Similar quake due to hit Northwest

By Howard Buck and Erik Robinson March 12, 2011 6 a.m.

The quake that rocked Japan and swamped the Oregon Coast is a mirror image of the tectonic rupture that occurred along the Northwest coastline 311 years ago, local geology experts said. And our Big One is poised to strike again.

Barge to be towed away in 2 pieces

By Erik Robinson March 11, 2011 6 a.m.

The Davy Crockett, beached and broken on the north bank of the Columbia River near Vancouver since January, will be taken away in two pieces, salvage officials said Thursday. Contractors plan to saw the 431-foot barge in half, refloat both halves, then tow the two ends of the World War II-era freighter to an unspecified dry dock for proper scrapping.

Detailed documents on Columbia River Crossing spending available

By Erik Robinson March 10, 2011 11:15 a.m.

The Columbian requested all information related to project expenditures from the project office in Vancouver and the documents are now available on our website.

The New I-5 Bridge: Beauty or Beast?

By Erik Robinson March 10, 2011 6 a.m.

The proposed design for a new Interstate 5 bridge is coming in for a rough review among architects and design professionals. They say the composite deck truss is, in a word, ugly.

Light rail vote might be delayed

By Erik Robinson March 9, 2011 6 a.m.

Local voters may not get a chance to weigh in on light rail until November of 2012, according to a proposed timeline floated by C-Tran officials on Tuesday. The C-Tran board of directors won’t make a final decision on the timing of the proposed ballot measure until its next meeting in April.

Live blog: C-Tran meeting on light rail

By Erik Robinson March 8, 2011 7:46 p.m.

Live blogging from C-Tran board meeting.

Beached barge cleanup costs reach $5.3 million

By Erik Robinson March 8, 2011 6 a.m.

Contractors have rung up $5.3 million in costs for the beached and broken barge Davy Crockett, as of the end of last week. And that’s before they’ve even formulated a plan for removing the 431-foot derelict from the north bank of the Columbia River between Vancouver and Camas.

Light rail vote may be delayed

By Erik Robinson March 6, 2011 6 a.m.

Clark County voters may not get a chance to weigh in on light rail this year, after all. That’s <i>if</i> they get to vote on it at all. A majority of C-Tran’s nine-member board of directors, meeting Saturday at the Fishers Landing Transit Center, suggested this November may be too soon for voters to decide on light rail and a new bus rapid transit line.

Budget cuts may cost port $10M

By Erik Robinson March 3, 2011 6 a.m.

Fallout from the congressional budget showdown may cost the Port of Vancouver $10 million in federal funding for a rail improvement project intended to attract new industrial development. The port’s funding is not part of the $4 billion in cuts made Wednesday to keep the federal government operating for the next two weeks. But it could be eliminated later, as the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives seeks deeper cuts.

Legislature has clout to OK tolls for light rail

By Erik Robinson March 3, 2011 6 a.m.

C-Tran’s board of directors will meet Saturday to talk about whether the board is still on track to place a ballot measure before voters in November. That measure would boost the sales tax by one-tenth of 1 percent to operate an extension of Portland’s light-rail transit system across a new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.

Regional high-speed rail funds have arrived

By Erik Robinson March 2, 2011 6 a.m.

In January of 2010, local rail advocates rejoiced at learning Washington had been awarded $590 million in federal economic stimulus funding for high-speed rail. However, the money never actually materialized until this week.

Another Felida-area slide disrupts rail service

By Erik Robinson March 1, 2011 5:41 p.m.

Another Felida-area mudslide — the fourth this rainy season — has disrupted service along BNSF Railway’s major north-south corridor between Portland and Seattle.

Mount St. Helens most famous of area’s natural wonders

By Erik Robinson February 27, 2011 6 a.m.

Now that Mount St. Helens has hit the geologic snooze alarm, newcomers to Southwest Washington may have an interest in several less-obvious natural wonders.

Construction ahead on many local roads

By Erik Robinson February 27, 2011 6 a.m.

A multibillion-dollar proposal to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River will continue to generate newspaper headlines this year, as project planners finalize the design and Clark County voters weigh a ballot initiative to support it.

Region’s rainy reputation ignores stellar summers

By Erik Robinson February 27, 2011 6 a.m.

If you’re a newcomer to the Southwest Washington, you’ve probably heard all about our soggy reputation.

Transportation officials back deck truss bridge

By Erik Robinson February 25, 2011 6:05 p.m.

The Oregon and Washington transportation departments issued a draft recommendation to the two state governors for a deck truss bridge for the Columbia River Crossing, describing it as the only bridge that meets all the criteria identified by the governors.

As blanket of white quickly fades, concerns turn to potential for black ice

By Erik Robinson February 25, 2011 6 a.m.

A blanket of low-elevation snow disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived on Thursday across much of Clark County. After a flirtation with winter that closed schools on Thursday, unseasonably cold temperatures are forecast to chill Southwest Washington through Saturday. Overnight lows were expected to drop into the low 20s or upper teens Thursday night and tonight.

If snow comes, it’ll stay

By Erik Robinson February 24, 2011 6 a.m.

As Vancouver is expected to waken today to a blanket of low-elevation snow, forecasters warned area residents to be prepared for it to stick around for a while. Cold temperatures are expected to remain in place into Saturday, with overnight lows dipping into the teens in Southwest Washington. That makes it more likely that today’s difficult commute could be duplicated on Friday, especially if melting snow freezes overnight.

Woodland Campground goes from state to county ownership

By Erik Robinson February 23, 2011 6 a.m.

Clark County will be the new owner of a campground southeast of Woodland, thanks to the state Board of Natural Resources. Earlier this month, the board approved the transfer of an 80-acre parcel from state ownership to the county.

New design for I-5 bridge may look a lot like the old design

By Erik Robinson February 19, 2011 6 a.m.

PORTLAND — State transportation leaders signaled today that they are leaning toward recommending a new Interstate 5 bridge that looks a lot like the design rejected earlier this month. The composite truss design would be the cheapest of three alternatives presented by an expert review panel and the most likely to keep the overall $3.6 billion Columbia River Crossing project on schedule.

I-5 bridge controversy normal, expert tells public

By Erik Robinson February 18, 2011 6 a.m.

PORTLAND — The chairman of a panel advising Washington and Oregon transportation leaders briefed the public Thursday on the group’s recommendation for a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River. In doing so, Utah-based transportation consultant Tom Warne waded into the controversy that continues to swirl around the multibillion-dollar proposal.

Coast Guard vows to dismantle, remove languishing barge

By Erik Robinson February 17, 2011 7:16 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard today announced that it will step in to dismantle and remove the beached and broken barge Davy Crockett, now languishing on the north bank of the Columbia River between Vancouver and Camas. Gov. Chris Gregoire said she was pleased by the Coast Guard’s announcement.

County braces for more snow, possibly on Thursday

By Erik Robinson February 17, 2011 6 a.m.

A dusting of snow covered much of Clark County at least briefly on Wednesday, with big gloppy flakes falling on the tail end of the morning rush hour. Morning commuters may not be so fortunate today.