Letters to the Editor for Sept. 13, 2018

Gorge Commission harming the gorge

By allowing the illegal rock quarry on the Zimmerly property to keep operating, the Columbia River Gorge Commission is allowing the gorge land use rules to be violated, harming the gorge, and harming my family and other property owners in the National Scenic Area.

More than seven months ago, my husband and I reported this illegal mining to Krystyna Wolniakowski, the Gorge Commission’s executive director, and pleaded for her help. Ever since, my family has been bombarded with severe dust, harmful noise and unsafe traffic conditions on a near daily basis. Yet Ms. Wolniakowski has taken no action to stop the illegal mining.

In an Aug. 16 Post-Record article (“Washougal mining operation ruled legal”) Ms. Wolniakowski implies that she can’t say or do anything about the Zimmerly violations, because there might be a future appeal of a Clark County decision to the gorge commissioners. This doesn’t make any sense. As the commission’s director, Ms. Wolniakowski is required to enforce the gorge rules. Moreover, her enforcement responsibilities have nothing to do with the appellate responsibilities of the appointed gorge commissioners.

Sadly, the message is loud and clear: anyone can violate the Gorge National Scenic Area rules and harm their neighbors with impunity. And Ms. Wolniakowski will allow them to do so, because of the possibility that maybe, some day, months or even years down the road, there might be an appeal to the gorge commissioners. Does this seem fair?

Jody Akers, Washougal

New bridges, transportation corridors needed

The Vancouver City Council recently passed a resolution supporting a replacement of the Interstate 5 (I-5) Bridge. The Clark County Council is considering a similar resolution. This effort is simply a means to resurrect the flawed Columbia River Crossing (CRC). Bringing Portland’s bankrupt light rail into Clark County remains part of the RTC’s 20-year transportation plan, and Portland’s JPAC regional transportation plan.

The current “focus on I-5” discussions are triggered by Oregon’s outrageous efforts to toll both I-5 and I-205. Southwest Washington leaders know part of people’s outrage is “we’re getting nothing in exchange for the tolls we’ll pay.” These leaders are hoping to piggyback on Oregon’s tolls, by tying a replacement I-5 bridge to Oregon’s tolls. “For just a little higher toll, you’ll get a new bridge” is what they’ll ultimately claim. Their replacement bridge will be “light rail ready” — “high capacity transit” is what they’ll say.

The real “bottleneck” on I-5 is the two-mile, two-lane section of I-5 at the Rose Quarter. It has the highest accident rate of any section of road in Oregon – three times the accident rate of the Terwilliger curves. Even after Oregon spends $450 million on the Rose Quarter under HB2017 (half of which will be wasted building two concrete “lids” over I-5), the Rose Quarter will continue to have the highest accident rate in Oregon.

What is needed are new through lanes at the Rose Quarter. What is needed is a new transportation corridor, reducing traffic on I-5. The creation of the I-205 corridor reduced I-5 traffic by 18.5 percent (1982 vs 1983).

Until the Rose Quarter is fixed by adding new through lanes, any money spent on a replacement Interstate Bridge will be wasted, delivering negligible results. The CRC’s $3.5 billion “fix” provided only a one-minute improvement in the morning, southbound commute.

Some will say the Interstate Bridge is “unsafe.” That’s not true, as both WSDOT and ODOT report the bridge is safe. See my article at clarkcountytoday.com/news/how-safe-is-the-interstate-5-bridge.

Again, this effort is simply a means to resurrect the flawed CRC, including bringing Portland’s bankrupt light rail into Clark County. Mass transit is not a solution to resolving traffic congestion on I-5. Presently only 1,499 people ride C-Tran’s “express” bus service to Portland. That’s a rounding error of the 300,000 average daily Columbia River crossings. Light rail would merely take some of the 1,499 people off buses, putting them on light rail. It will attract no new riders.

Portland has the 12th worst traffic congestion in the nation because they have refused to add vehicle capacity for nearly four decades. They have refused to build new transportation corridors.

We need new third and fourth bridges across the Columbia River. The Southwest Washington RTC’s 2008 “Visioning Study” identified this a decade ago. Oregon Representative Rich Vial has courageously proposed a much-needed western bypass. Something similar was part of a 1970’s regional transportation plan.

Regional population has doubled since I-205 opened. Another 750,000 people will be here in 20 years including a half million new jobs and cars. Adding new vehicle capacity and new transportation corridors is the only solution that will solve traffic congestion problems.

John Ley, Camas

Let’s set new voter record

It’s time to vote. What type of voter are you? We all have world views and values that need to be considered in how government is run. Vote even if you are not as informed as you would like.

Some recommendations to help voting decisions: Put together a voting party. You can get together with friends or even assign attendees to research issues. Secondly, there is no rule you have to vote on every issue and candidate. Select part of the ballot to vote on where you feel comfortable.

People tell me they forget to vote. Mail-in ballots were intended to make it easier to vote (postage is prepaid). Instead ballots have become the ultimate “I’ll get to it later.” Consider how to remember to vote. I was once told: “Never handle mail more than once.” Vote immediately when you get the ballot, or put your voting ballot with your bills and treat voting like paying a bill. You could put the ballot in a place you cannot avoid, such as on your refrigerator. Put a deadline reminder in your smartphone and treat that reminder as inviolable.

Let’s set a new record for voter participation.

Brad Jensen, Camas

We don’t have to be a country of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’

Thanks for writing about the “disparities between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.'” (‘August Cheers and Jeers’ in the Camas-Washougal Post-Record, Aug. 30, 2018) We know how to change this. What is lacking is the “political will.” Time to take action: call or write those who represent you in Congress and ask them to narrow this gap, insuring all Americans can meet their basic needs. For example, choosing the Senate Farm Bill that protects the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) would be a start.

With the current election, it is a great time to ask candidates questions like, “What is your plan to make sure everyone has enough to eat, housing, health insurance and a living wage job?” Then, time to vote based on the candidates’ answers. We don’t have to be a country of only the rich and the poor. If we raise our voices and vote accordingly, we can bring help create a better country for all.

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington

Elect Long, help change direction of current administration

We have a wonderful opportunity to help change the direction of the current administration by electing a true representative of the 3rd Congressional District: Carolyn Long. The more I read and learn about her, the more impressed I am with her education, her intelligence and her dedication to the people of Southwest Washington.

As a Fulbright Scholar, author and Washington State University-Vancouver professor of constitutional law, she is imminently qualified to lead our district and will be a respected voice in the House of Representatives. She is holding town halls to hear the concerns from all our constitutents, and is speaking to the press to inform us of her top priorities.

Carolyn Long is eager to represent us in Washington, D.C., but it will take all of us turning in our ballots by Nov. 6.

Carol B. Williams, Camas

Herrera Beutler ensuring efficient forest management

Hopefully some of the raging forest fires in Washington, Oregon and California will come to an end quickly. The destruction they have caused is enormous. As someone who supports a healthy environment, I stand with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in her efforts to ensure efficient forest management. She has helped pass legislation that would allow for our forests to be thinned, which helps prevent wildfires and tree overcrowding. In California, wildfires produce more pollution than all of the cars in the state every year. Why? Poor forest management. Thank goodness Congresswoman Herrera Beutler cares about the environment and is taking on this issue that threatens our region.

D. Alton Johnson, Camas