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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Bridge funds; vaccines down

The Columbian

Cheers: To building bridges. The Interstate 5 Bridge Replacement Program has received a $1 million planning grant from the Federal Highway Administration, the first federal funding directed toward the project. The money comes from an infrastructure bill that was signed in November.

“A program of this size generally does not get done without significant federal dollars,” Program Administrator Greg Johnson said. “We have not seen this level of federal infrastructure funding available since the 1990s, which includes new grant programs available for bridges and economically significant projects that haven’t existed previously.” Planning and constructing a replacement bridge will require a major investment from the federal government. The small investment announced last week indicates that federal authorities recognize the importance of the project and is a promising sign.

Jeers: To declining vaccination rates. State and county officials report that the rate of childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles has declined. For example, between June 2019 and December 2021, the rate of fully vaccinated toddlers (ages 19 months to 35 months) decreased by 8.1 percentage points, according to a report from the state Department of Health.

“The numbers are concerning,” Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick said. “Vaccines are really important at preventing communicable diseases.” The decline is due, in part, to fewer routine medical appointments during the pandemic. But another factor is widespread misinformation claiming that vaccines are dangerous. Avoiding vaccinations leaves your child susceptible and endangers others.

Cheers: To Vancouver police. As detailed in a recent Columbian article, the Vancouver Police Department is coordinating with stores to combat retail theft. Teams of officers have been stationed near stores such as Target and Fred Meyer to arrest suspected shoplifters when alerted by loss prevention officers.

Law enforcement agencies have reported a spike in shoplifting. According to The Columbian, police “plan to continue these tactics in hopes that word will get out that they’re cracking down on shoplifting and people could never know if officers are waiting just out of sight.”

Jeers: To a hazardous situation. Three workers were taken to a hospital last week after a hazardous-materials incident at Molecular Testing Labs in east Vancouver. Following a chlorine gas spill at the company, bleach was used in an attempt to clean up the mess, according to the Vancouver Fire Department. That led to a hazardous chemical reaction.

Admittedly, we were not aware of the danger of mixing chlorine gas with bleach. But we’re thinking people who work at Molecular Testing Labs should know more about chemistry than we do. Company officials might want to update their employee training regarding hazardous materials.

Cheers: To calming traffic. The city of Vancouver has addressed a problem at The Waterfront Vancouver, adding speed humps along Waterfront Way to slow street racers. “The lanes are about as narrow as can be, and we designed it around the idea of a slow-speed environment,” one official said. “We just never thought it would be so attractive for street racers.”

Indeed. The often-busy area seems an unlikely spot for lead-footed drivers, but nearby workers say near-accidents are a frequent occurrence. Jeers go to racers who endanger themselves, other drivers and pedestrians, but cheers are warranted for city officials trying to deal with the issue.