Here in Vancouver, we face many unique challenges as they pertain to our transportation. High congestion, limited options for mobility, and an aging infrastructure urgently need a guiding hand to set us aright. We need leadership that will take a practical approach that will balance environmental concerns with the need for efficiency and a thriving economy.
Vancouver has a large enough population that it is possible to have a public transportation system adequate enough to meet existing needs. I believe it is possible for our infrastructure to handle the demands of automobile, freight, and bicycle traffic. By improving upon our current system and carefully planning our next steps we will reduce the congestion and inevitable delays whenever there’s a bridge lift on Interstate 5.
The need to upgrade our bridge infrastructure over the Columbia River has become key for our community. However, with the leadership we currently have in Olympia, it has stood as an unnecessarily divisive and ideological issue over the years. While most people agree on the need to eventually replace the current decades-old I-5 bridge, the question of whether to add light rail remains unanswered.
There are only two bridges across the river right now, over I-5 and the 205. Given the amount of growth that we’ve seen in the region over the past several decades, it’s easy to understand why traffic constantly comes to a complete standstill once it hits the Columbia.
If we do decide to upgrade the bridge, we will have the unique opportunity to draw federal funds to help pay for it. The likelihood of receiving federal funds increases if light rail is a part of the project. And this would give us the opportunity to take care of our environment with carbon-free transport.
For these reasons, I support having light rail as part of the bridge replacement. However, I would make sure that it is completed in a way that makes sense and does not compromise our ability to transport vehicle and freight traffic.
Although I am generally supportive of maximizing our transportation infrastructure to accommodate bicycle traffic, I disagree with the approach that the Vancouver City Council took last February. The body voted to eliminate 400 parking spots on Columbia Street to make way for a bike lane. I understand that to be the wrong approach to take in transportation as this does not weigh the immediate versus long term priorities for Vancouver.
With my experiences in both the private and public sectors, I bring a nuanced and new perspective on this complex and entrenched transportation challenge. One of the central positions of my platform that will reduce congestion across the Columbia is growth in the number of jobs available in Vancouver. Bringing more family-wage jobs to our home community will mean fewer residents commuting to Portland and I-5 and I-205 clearing up the standstill traffic.
The Port of Vancouver is one example of an underutilized source of the kinds of jobs that we need in this area, and I intend to help grow many other industries for a thriving Vancouver job market.
As Washington State Legislative District 49 Representative, I intend to do everything I can to make sure that Vancouver’s true potential is realized. With your vote, we’ll be able to have our industries become the economic drivers that they were always intended to be. I will tirelessly work to create transportation that offers us options, environmental stewardship, and a long-awaited ease of mobility for our beloved City.