C-Tran’s Proposition 1 has been one of the more contentious and debated issues to land on a General Election ballot in several years. Opinions about why it should be approved or rejected run across the board. On this measure that proposes to fund light rail in Clark County, the Post-Record is recommending a ‘no’ vote.
The proposition asks voters to decide whether to fund a one-tenth of one percent sales tax to pay for the maintenance and operations of C-Tran’s share of a light rail extension from Portland to Vancouver that would travel across the I-5 replacement bridge known as Columbia River Crossing. In addition, the tax increase would also pay the local share to build, operate and maintain the Fourth Plain Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit Project.
Some, including at least one lawmaker, view this issue’s outcome as a referendum on voters’ views on the Columbia River Crossing project as a whole. Other stakeholders say their views are based specifically on their take on light rail, and still others will be casting a vote on the issue of new taxes.
But in the end, the Post-Record’s recommendation to reject the proposition comes down to one central issue. At this time there are too many unanswered questions and unresolved issues specifically pertaining to Columbia River Crossing to support a sales tax increase that would fund a project that is so closely tied to it.
This opinion is not an indictment on light rail. Within the right circumstances this mass transit option can have many benefits.
But any time local, federal or state leaders come to the voters to ask for money for a project, they should have all of the details laid out on the table and set in stone. All questions should be answerable; all dollars accounted for. At present, despite the fact that millions of dollars have been spent in the planning phases of the project, Columbia River Crossing has a cloud of several uncertainties hanging over it — from design and funding sources, to jurisdictional issues and even its estimated cost.
For these reasons, we recommend that voters reject Proposition 1.