Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt criticized efforts in Olympia to renew discussions about a crossing over the Columbia River and asked key lawmakers to kill the proposed legislation.
In particular, Leavitt blasted Rep. Liz Pike’s involvement. In a Jan. 26 email to Rep. Judy Clibborn, chair of the House’s Transportation Committee, Leavitt said Pike’s participation “results in an immediate recoil from the political, business and community leadership who are desiring to reach a collaborative and realistic resolution to this regional transportation challenge.”
In a phone interview Tuesday, Leavitt called Pike, R-Camas, “one of the lead architects in an effort to destroy the most important job-creating, economy-boosting project in our region,” referencing the now-defunct Columbia River Crossing project.
Pike has joined forces with Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, to push House Bill 2414, which would carve out $100,000 to form a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of legislators from both sides of the river to revive conversations about how to improve freight mobility and congestion over the river. The measure is scheduled in the House Transportation Committee today.
“Quite frankly, (Pike) can’t be trusted not to do the same thing she did before,” Leavitt said. “And that’s subvert the public process that occurred for years: public hearings, public votes, and a lot of money studying an improvement on the I-5 corridor that would have improved congestion and mobility choices for Southwest Washington. … I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody that’s following politics and following issues in our region that Liz Pike has become toxic in her efforts to move things forward.”
Mark Brown, the city’s lobbyist, said city officials are also concerned House Bill 2414 doesn’t incorporate any city or community involvement.
The Clark County council publicly supported the legislation after Pike asked Councilor Julie Olson to raise the issue.
Pike said the number of Southwest Washington representatives who have signed on as co-sponsors is a rare symbol of unity.
Republican Reps. Paul Harris of Vancouver, Brandon Vick of Felida and Lynda Wilson of Vancouver signed on to support the measure, and Democrat Rep. Jim Moeller of Vancouver added his name to the list, along with Wylie.
On Tuesday, Pike said the measure is gaining momentum in the state Senate.
“Everyone agrees that it’s time to move forward and not dwell on the past,” Pike said. “And how refreshing is that?”
Wylie said conversations about the measure are ongoing and believes the measure will be voted out of committee today. The process, Wylie said, is one of “gaining understanding, not hard-fought persuasion.”