Monday, September 20, 2021
Sept. 20, 2021

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Mayor McEnerny-Ogle ready to push for transit, I-5 Bridge

She says filling Campbell’s seat is city’s first priority

By , Columbian politics reporter
2 Photos
“We’ve got a ton of work to go at these next 100 days.
“We’ve got a ton of work to go at these next 100 days. We’re not sitting on our thumbs,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle Photo Gallery

Tonight Anne McEnerny-Ogle will chair her first meeting as Vancouver’s mayor. Prior to taking her new seat at the dais, she laid out her goals for the first term. Those goals include funding for a second bus rapid transit line, approving the proposed day-center property purchase and developing a plan to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.

But before any of that can happen and the Vancouver City Council can get to work, McEnerny-Ogle said they need to fill the vacancy left by Scott Campbell. Campbell died in September but was elected in November to replace Jack Burkman.

“I think we’re going to see several individuals step forward to have that opportunity to talk to us and share their hopes in filling the vacancy,” McEnerny-Ogle said. She expects at least a dozen applicants to put their names in the hat. “It’ll be interesting to see who actually wants to go through the process and sit down and have that conversation.”

Once the new councilor is appointed, she said the council will need to schedule a retreat and identify council-wide goals.

“We’ve got a ton of work to go at these next 100 days,” she said. “We’re not sitting on our thumbs.”

Also topping the list in McEnerny-Ogle’s eyes is securing funding for a new fire engine better able to fight oil-train related fires.

Later this month McEnerny-Ogle will travel to Washington D.C. to attend the United States Conference of Mayors. She’s planning to use the opportunity to lobby local representatives to see what’s holding up the funding.

“Do I need to bring them a huckleberry cobbler?” she said. “We ranked very high on the application so I’m trying to figure out what’s holding up the funding for that. Did they get so many requests that we got bumped?”

The mayor also plans to lobby for more federal funding to build a second bus rapid transit line on Mill Plain Boulevard. C-Tran received a $38.5 million grant that funded the majority of the first project, which was completed in January 2017.

“We’re really happy that it came in on time, under budget and we can prove a higher ridership (as a result),” she said. “So we want to take that information to the C-Tran board and go to Washington D.C. and ask, ‘Are there additional funds for mass transit, specifically for a second bus rapid transit?'”

If the project were funded and able to move forward, McEnerny-Ogle said she’d like to explore the possibility of installing broadband internet infrastructure, known as dark fiber, at the same time.

“The hole is already done,” she said. “Why not partner with C-Tran and drop fiber in that line and see what we can do with it?”

A more personal goal for McEnerny-Ogle is to plant 1,000 trees in the first few months this year.

“We got pretty close last year,” she said.

What the community will continue to focus on, however, is the future of tolling and the I-5 Bridge.

McEnerny-Ogle sits on the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Advisory Committee that is considering tolling on the state line. The next meeting isn’t until late February when the committee will review a study of eight different tolling scenarios. She said she’s hoping her seat at the table will also lead to Oregon rejoining the bridge replacement discussion.

“(It’s) one of the first steps,” McEnerny-Ogle said.

As far as she’s concerned, Vancouver is willing to do anything to prove to Oregon they are serious about a bridge replacement.

“We dropped the ball on the Washington side,” she said. “We’re hoping to mend the fence and fix the bridge.”

What that bridge will look like, however is unknown.

“It won’t be the (Columbia River Crossing), that project is dead,” McEnerny-Ogle said. It should have mass transit though, she added. With 2018 underway, the mayor hopes to meet with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to talk about the bridge.

“None of this should be a surprise to anybody, these are goals we’ve been working on and working on,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “We’ve nibbled away on some of them and we just keep working.”

Columbian politics reporter