Letters to the Editor for Sept. 7, 2010

Nothing gained from council’s SR-14 decision

Work on the long awaited upgrade to State Highway 14, across Lady Island to Second Street, begins in a few months. When completed, the big back-ups and rear end accidents currently occurring at Union Street will move to the new bottleneck at Washougal River Road.

However, Washougal’s city council has moved us to the back of the line for funding Highway 14 improvements through our city.

The State has plans for four lanes with interchanges replacing existing intersections, but with current economic assumptions, this will be decades in the future.

For the last few years, Washougal has had a much lower cost, interim plan in line for state funding. The idea was to not wait decades for some improvement in traffic flow and safety. This plan included roundabouts, a concept that has found little support from local residents.

At their Aug. 16 meeting, as part of their required yearly update of their six-year Transportation Improvement Plan, a majority of the City Council voted to take Washougal’s plan for interim improvements off the State’s list.

This followed two meetings with public hearings where the Council members heard testimony asking for cooperation between the City, the Port of Camas-Washougal, and the State Department of Transportation to promote highway improvements in this area. Before their vote, the council members heard from their staff that the interim plan could be changed if it was left in place, but if we remove it, we go to the back of the line. They also heard a plea from Mayor Guard to give him until next year to come up with an alternative to the roundabouts in the current plan, keeping Washougal in line for more immediate funding.

Issues such as the long term planning and funding of state highway improvements are complicated, not easily understood by the general public. This is why we have elected officials. It is their job to understand these issues and make good, informed decisions for the greater good of the community. That is not what happened here.

Council members Jon Russell, Dave Shoemaker, Michael Delavar and Jennifer McDaniel went their own way, in what seemed a knee-jerk reaction to the word “roundabout,” even though it was clear that roundabouts no longer would be considered.

Councilman Russell stated that this would only set us back a few years. This will be a few more years of increasing traffic jams and accidents. We have lost a few years and we gain nothing.

Richard Hamby, Washougal

Community invited to open house

Inter-Faith Treasure House will be celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year and would like to invite you to an open house on Sept. 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This date is very dear to all Americans and we should never forget what happened. Across America citizens are hurting and our Food Bank is doing its part in helping our unfortunate citizens in the fight against hunger. All Americans need to stand together to fight terrorism, hunger or any other dangers.

So on Sept. 11, volunteer for your favorite cause, do a random act of kindness, or join us to see what is going on in your own community.

Nancy Wilson, Executive Director, Inter-Faith Treasure House

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