Republican lawmaker Lynda Wilson does not want Oregonians to have a vote when it comes to Southwest Washington’s transportation priorities.
“I can understand and see why someone from the other side might want to give us information and have a voice on the (Regional Transportation Council) board,” Wilson, a freshman lawmaker from Vancouver, told her colleagues on the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday. “But I do not see why they need to have them voting.”
Wilson is the chief sponsor of House Bill 2124, which would prohibit Oregonians who sit on the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council from being voting members. Two of the board’s 14 members are from Oregon, one from the state’s department of transportation and the other from the Metro Council.
The Southwest Washington board’s purpose, according to its website, is to “hold meetings, appoint committees and task forces, and generally promote cooperative and coordinated transportation planning/programming processes.”
The Clark County Council, whose members sit on the transportation board, supports the measure.
The transportation board recently approved a long-range plan presenting the county’s priorities for the next two decades, both current and future projects in Clark County. The plan included an Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project but officials noted that although the I-5 corridor remains a priority, not all the projects will be built.
At a recent meeting of the regional transportation board, Clark County Commissioner David Madore said the RTC should consider additional bridges over the Columbia River. He’s a proponent of an east county bridge.
Wilson also made the point that although three Washingtonians with voting rights sit on an advisory board in Oregon, the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, that board acts in an advisory capacity and cannot be compared to Washington’s board.
Jack Burkman, a Vancouver City Councilor who sits on Oregon’s advisory board, said Wilson’s measure would “harm partnerships.”
The purpose of working together, Burkman said, is to “coordinate regionally” and also because “federal law says, if you get and use federal funds, you have to work together.”
“There is no way to draw a line in the middle of the river and say, ‘You take care of the transportation over there’ … Not when we have 60,000 people a day going over the bridge every day,” he said.
The House Transportation Committee is scheduled to vote on the measure today.
Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, has a similar measure on the Senate side.