The gloves are coming off on the Washington side of the Columbia River, as Clark County commissioners yanked funding from an agency that has come out in support of the so-called "Columbia River Crossing" (CRC) - known to normal people as the planned replacement Interstate 5 bridge. Generally speaking, most people wouldn't oppose replacing the two older lift-bridges currently serving I-5, but the planners and politicians have for years been insisting that the thing has to include a crime-train line, which is where the rub comes in.
TriMet and other agencies have long wanted to run a crime train line from downtown Porkland to downtown Vancouver, and in fact the last crime-train line that Portland-area residents were permitted to vote on was just such a line. Residents said no, so the bureaucrats built the line anyway - but had to end it at Portland Expo Center. Oddly, voters have never since been given an opportunity to vote on light rail.
With the planning of a replacement bridge for the two existing I-5 bridges, the rail nuts thought they had an unassailable opportunity to finally bring the crime train to downtown Vancouver: in order to qualify for rederal taxpayer dollars, a transit component is required in the design. Naturally, that component could only be light rail; alternatives such as bus rapid transit were haughtily dismissed as not expensive enough. Portland mayor Sammy Adams went so far as to proclaim that the CRC would either incorporate light rail or it wouldn't be built.
Then Clark County voters were asked to approve a small increase in their local sales tax to pay for operating "their portion" of light rail, and they didn't say no. They said, "Hell No", much to the consternation of the light rail mafia. Even worse, Republican legislators from the area actually listened to the voters, and began interfering with the grand plans.
Particularly bizarre is the dogged insistence by the mafia that light rail must run from downtown Porkland to downtown Vancouver, neatly illustrating opponents' observations that the crime trains don't take people where they want to go, or where they need to go; rather, they take people where politicians and planners want them to go. If, in fact, light rail made a lick of sense in the first place, the natural alignment would run from Clark County along I-205, linking with the existing line that runs between the Gateway district and Portland International Airport; affording Clark County residents a direct connection to flights as well as other destination options.
The stubborn insistence upon forcing people to travel into downtown Porkland belies the insistence of the light rail mafia that the crime trains are "transit services". And having spent nearly $200 million in "planning" and designing spans with light rail, they've yet to come up with a design that meets the minimum height requirements specified by the agency that has the final permitting say: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The light rail mafia thinks that the Corps should just give in and permit a lower bridge, despite the impact upon maritime traffic, because their crime trains can't handle the steeper grade that a span of the required minimum height would entail. In their view, a shiny monument to politicians and planners should take precedence over grubby trade and economic considerations.