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Monday, December 11, 2023
Dec. 11, 2023

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Cheers & Jeers: Deep discussion; bridge costs

The Columbian

Cheers: To important conversations. Thanks go to everybody who attended and participated this week in a community conversation about homelessness, organized by The Columbian. A panel of people working on the issue discussed various difficulties and possible solutions, and community members in the audience asked insightful questions.

Columbian Innovation Editor Will Campbell touched upon the meaning of the event by asking people to think about the last time they had a conversation regarding homelessness. “Was it a negative conversation?” he queried. “Did anyone talk about solutions to the problem? Or was it just mostly complaining? Did the conversation tail off without much hope?” Only by holding difficult communitywide conversations will we find hope for solving an issue that touches all of our lives and impacts the quality of life throughout our county.

Jeers: To rising costs. The latest projections from the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program suggest that replacing the I-5 Bridge will cost between $5 billion and $7.5 billion. The cost of the actual bridge is projected between $1.64 billion and $2.45 billion.

It is eye-opening that only one-third of the cost goes to the bridge, but it also is deceptive; revamped interchanges are necessary and are not included in that price. But jeers go to critics who scuttled the Columbia River Crossing proposal a decade ago, leaving us without a new bridge while the cost of a replacement doubled.

Cheers: To sustainable aviation. Pioneers in Washington have completed the first test flight of a regional aircraft powered by hydrogen. Taking off from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, the retrofitted plane reached an altitude of 3,500 feet and flew for about 15 minutes. Eventually, it could carry 40 passengers and travel up to 600 miles — putting any destination in the state within reach.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said, “Today’s test flight shows how the U.S. can lead the way in innovative aviation technologies to decarbonize air travel, which accounts for around 11 percent of our nation’s transportation carbon emissions.” There is a long way to go before air travel is decarbonized, but a 15-minute flight is a step in the right direction. After all, the Wright brothers’ first real flight lasted only 12 seconds.

Sad: Seattle. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey finds that Seattle is the saddest of the nation’s 15 largest metro areas. Or at least it was in early February, when the survey was taken, with 45 percent of the area’s adults saying they had feelings of depression during the previous two weeks.

The survey, designed to provide quick snapshots on a number of topics, does not include breakout information for Portland, the nation’s 25th largest metro area. Because Vancouver is part of the Portland metro area, we’re guessing the region would fare better than Seattle in the survey. We’re always upbeat here, aren’t we?

Cheers: To Paul Christensen. The 88-year-old philanthropist has been honored with the Clark County Art Commission’s 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of arts philanthropy.

As detailed in an article by Columbian reporter Scott Hewitt, Christensen has led a colorful and eventful life, filled with philanthropic and community-building endeavors. But the arts are his true passion. “Art exemplifies our best views of life,” Christensen said. “Art can show us the way we would like life to be. And it can also show us the things about life that we need to rethink.”

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