Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Adams withdraws support for 12-lane CRC: “No toll, no train, no deal.”

Posted by on September 18th, 2009 at 10:46 am

Anti 12-lane CRC Ride-6

“12 Lanes?! Insane!” reads a sign
at a protest ride this summer.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland Mayor Sam Adams issued a statement this morning saying that he can no longer support a $4 billion, 12 lane replacement for the freeway bridge over I-5.

Adams states that for “reasons both fiscal and political, I believe I believe the ground has recently shifted under the proposal for a new I-5 Columbia River Crossing (CRC).” He calls for a return to the drawing board to come up with a smaller, less expensive project.

In tempering his support, Adams cites shortfalls in available funding for the project; the erosion of Vancouver’s political support for tolling the bridge (one of the mayoral candidates in their current election is dead set against tolls); his increased concerns about Vancouver’s support for light rail across the river.

Without tolling and light rail, Adams says, the induced demand created by a new, 12 lane bridge would dump untenable amounts of traffic onto Portland’s streets.

Story continues below


The Oregonian’s street edition today bears a front-page story detailing the financial and political blows that are increasingly falling on the CRC project. Dylan Rivera reports that $1 million per month has been spent so far on CRC planning.

Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, who has supported the project, told Rivera that the cross-river alliance is “falling apart” due to each side’s unwillingness to compromise.

But Adams told Rivera, “I’d rather settle for a bad bridge for another 25 years than a terrible bridge that punishes Portland for another 100 years.”

Adam’s suspension of support comes less than a month after the Bicycle Transportation Alliance withdrew from the planning process for the bicycle and pedestrian portion of the bridge, calling the project process “deaf to community input,” and renewing its disavowal of the 12 lane proposal.

– Read Adams’ full statement here.
– The Oregonian article detailing more of the political background is here
– The Mercury jubilantly interviews Adams in a blog post this morning about his change of heart.
– The Columbia River Crossing project website is here
– Also see our past coverage of the CRC, its opposition, and proposed alternatives.

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  • ScottG September 18, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Finally. I’m originally from the greater Boston area and I couldn’t believe I was seeing the Big Dig happen again; that no one was batting an eyelash at the original “estimate” of a $4B bridge.

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  • joe September 18, 2009 at 11:10 am

    say what you want about sam – he realizes, after being told a thousand ways by many people, when he makes mistakes. maybe next time he will do his homework before supporting bad ideas but I happily accept his reversal.

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  • Paul Cone September 18, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Elly, your headline is a bit misleading. You’re quoting the headline the Columbian put on the press release as if Adams himself said that exact phrase. He actually said “no tolls, no new bridge. No light rail, no Columbia River Crossing

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  • Elly Blue September 18, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for catching that, Paul. He actually said, in his email blast, “No toll, no train, no deal.” I changed the headline.

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  • Chris September 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Cheers Adams! Back to the priorities of transportation alternatives and traffic calming measures such as tolls. Can we get the Sellwood Bridge replaced now? It’s been unfit since I was in high school 10+ years ago.

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  • wsbob September 18, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Adam’s statement is pretty good. Maybe he’s getting his momentum back again.

    If the feds really, really think this bridge is essential to the viability of the interstate highway system for freight transportation, national security and so forth, they’ll make it happen despite what local people think.

    Sprawl due to poor planning that fails to significantly reduce the need for daily state to state workforce commuting is something that I hope Adams also has in his thoughts in regards to what type bridge should eventually become the new CRC.

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    The Oregonian wouldnt post this.. kinda funny given the anti Portland stuff they will post.

    The people who move to Vancouver do so knowing that there is but one way to the largest job market- they choose to move there for whatever reason- white flight, “cheaper housing”, “lower taxes” (although as one person pointed out if you work in Oregon you still pay Oregon taxes), whatever- and then find (oh my) that there are sixty-thousand other white-flight, tax dodging, McMansion dwellers JUST LIKE THEM trying to get over the same bridge everyday for work. Then they whine about needing a new bridge, which they don’t want tolls to pay for, over which they want no other transportation options (because they cannot see themselves using them). And they want me to help pick up the tab.

    The reason traffic is so bad in Portland is because of y’all. I worked for a year in Kalama driving from Portland and I NEVER ONCE even slowed down on my commute while seeing all of you packed in your SUVs sipping Starbucks and yammering away on your cell phones while going one mile an hour the other direction. I was never a huge fan of the CRC project but I figured I would go along with it because it included light rail which would perhaps offset the increased capacity and would be a blessing in twenty years when Portland hits Seattle size, and because I believed some of the interchange improvements would increase safety and while I might not like your commuting lifestyle and its effect on my city I have no desire to see you hurt.

    Now with light rail (future options) interchange improvements (safety) and even bike paths (tourism) all on the ropes I say hell no. You wanna drive your car through my city you can do it on the roads that are there, and maybe when you sit in that Ford Titanic long enough you will get your fat ass out of it and maybe trying walking further than the width of a walmart parking lot to get somewhere… Or better yet, you guys in Vancouver have it so going on how about you quit your Oregon job so someone in Oregon can have it, buy your shit over there and pay 8% sales tax and get a job in Vancouver- oh wait there are no jobs in Vancouver…. that is kinda surprising seeing how “business friendly” you are over there. Well get a job in Seattle and drive there for all I care but get the hell outta my town. Without that 60K cars a day trucks will glide over the river with barely a putt of the jake brake, I wont have to keep your commute times in mind when I go get my son from my ex wifes house and all of Portland will be a little cleaner without your exhaust fumes and the stench of your BS. And don’t let the drawbridge hit you in the ass on the way out.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    If the Feds “make it happen” then I doubt you will see tolls on it. We will see if the Obama administration is as toll friendly as the Bush 43 administration was.

    IMTO: Only the pressure of funding the ‘local portion’ will keep tolls at the table.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    It will be interesting to see if and when tolls ever get put back on the Interstate Bridge if the CRC project falters. We, as a region, might have to wait a lot longer for this management tool.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 18, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Adams recent flipping back to 10 lanes (less then 12 lanes) is a practical political position now to be in given that state and federal officials have given him the political space to return to this position.

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  • drew September 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    This is a good development. Tolls should be out of the question.

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  • Rithy September 18, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Bridge victory! And the weak shall be made strong not might is right but rather might for right…

    Now we just need to get Burkholder to pull his support.

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  • Dennis September 18, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Oh, this is very, very good news indeed! This project had to be re-examined. Those of us that reside within the city limits of Vancouver would be severely harmed by this project. The increased traffic created by all the new developments that would spring up, would be disastrous.

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  • Marid September 18, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Wow, Duncan, that’s a little over the top. The CRC project controversy is not unlike the national healthcare debate. Hopefully, the bridge that we do get will satisfy the most people.

    I don’t think Tolls are that big of a deal. You have to pay for parking, and that is a just a 100-sq ft piece of pavement. You have to pay for gas, car maintenance, etc. If the new bridge speeds your commute by just 5 minutes each way it’s probably worth it, no?

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  • wsbob September 18, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I never saw tolls being much of a congestion management tool, though it seems they can be an effective revenue or debt management tool.

    People have to get to their jobs. If the job is across the river, they’ll pay the toll unless it’s so exorbitantly high that it forces them to cross over an un-tolled bridge or possibly carpool, take mass transit, walk/bike, get a job in their own state. None of which may particularly be options as long as the good paying jobs are on one side of the river and the relatively cheaper housing is on the other.

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  • eric September 18, 2009 at 1:28 pm


    I’m from Seattle. It sure seems to me like the relatively cheaper housing is on both sides of the river, as long as you don’t want a big-ass house. Or, let’s just say that my total rent in close-in Portland is less than half my total rent in close-in Seattle. If you don’t like the commute, find a different job, or find a different place to live. It’s a free country, and you can make the choice. You might not get the same for your money, but that’s the price you pay, and until it costs a lot more to get over the bridge people will find it worthwhile to sit in crazy traffic just for that extra bedroom.

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    It is over the top, but so is Clark County’s expectation that they can turn my city into a parking lot partially at my expense to subsidize their unsustainable lifestyle.

    An Bob- I live close in SE, I own a home, I am of middle income. It can be done. If you mean “the large cheap houses with big lots in cul-de-sacs” then you are not talking about housing but a lifestyle choice, in which case why should I subsidize their lifestyle? I dont ask them to do anything for me except maybe try carpooling once in awhile and learn how to merge.

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  • metal cowboy September 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    It’s good to see this happening. It’s a livability issue , a fiscal reality issue and hopefully , as a community, we’ll stay involved and create communities that are scaled for humans.
    Thanks again to everyone who has helped keep alternatives to a 12 lane 4 billion dollar project out there. I think we are making a difference.

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I think everyone who thinks the bridge as planned is a bad idea should head over to the oregonian web site http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/09/beset_by_money_woes_i5_bridge.html#preview

    and let them know.

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  • wsbob September 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Eric, lack of willingness to make the state to state commute via limited capacity bridge doesn’t seem to be a problem for people; they’re doing it right now as we all discuss here, and will likely continue to do so until some more logical arrangement is put in place.

    I think a ‘big-ass’ house, one that’s relatively larger for the money on the Vancouver side, or other reasons such as quality of schools is why some people are willing to make the commute. Why not have Adams start thinking about making efforts to begin fixing some of the more likely problems that lead people to be willing to make this relentless day after day commute between states?

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    hey Bob-
    lets turn it around, why doesnt Vancouver start looking to have an employer base of its own?

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  • wsbob September 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Duncan, ‘what can be done’ and ‘what people want’ are two different things. It’s your choice if you don’t choose to support the want some people have to live across the river so they can afford “the large cheap houses with big lots in cul-de-sacs”.

    That want is not one I support and encourage, but I think it does reflect a part of what many people regard as a healthy marketplace. That’s part of the problem. Somehow, though they don’t seem to be doing so in enough numbers, people should be wanting places to live that are close to where they work. We, with the help of our leaders, should be trying to figure out ways to make what they want accessible on the same side of the river as their workplace. That’s one way to help reduce numbers of cars needing to cross the river day after day.

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  • kitty September 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Thank God. The wicked witch is dead.

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  • wsbob September 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Duncan, good question. Maybe the city has been. I haven’t kept up, so I can’t really say. One thing I might suggest though as a reason Vancouver doesn’t have big employee base such as for example Washington County here in Oregon, is competition.

    While I couldn’t say for sure if or to what extent there was a competition between Oregon and Washington competed to get them, my understanding is that Washington County got the technology employers it has because the county hustled to get them; made land affordable, cut tax rates and so forth.

    Not that I’m saying it was thoroughly the brightest thing to do.

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    The other thing that companies look for when they relocate is access to cultural serrvices, education and public transit for their employees- figuring that every employee that commutes by train doesnt need their own parking spot. I think Vancouvers shot themselves in the foot in that regard.


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  • Brad September 18, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Ultimately we will get to pay for an eight lane bridge with some nice bike/ped path on the top deck, no tolls, and no MAX for about $2B and everyone will claim “victory”.

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  • kgb September 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I’m doing a snoopy dance!

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  • Bent Bloke September 18, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    The whole flap about tolls is almost funny. I’m dating myself here, but I remember when the current bridge had tolls. Tolls were in force when the second span opened until it was paid off in 1966. And the Astoria-Megler bridge had tolls until it was paid off. That was common in the past.


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  • n8m September 18, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    Lets go back to ferry boats.
    Stay in Vancouver or move to Portland (and ride a bike 🙂 ) Vancouverites.

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  • Jackattak September 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Kick butt, Sam. Absolutely perfect response, sir.

    So glad I voted for you. Keep up the great work.

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  • Lester September 18, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I’m just glad light rail on Main St. has been delayed for the time being. I ride my bike to Portland and make do with the current facilities. The worst bits of which are Hayden Island’s circuitous route and Delta Parks horrible surface conditions.

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  • Lester September 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Wow, Duncan REALLY hates interstate commuters! If they weren’t driving in from Vancouver, they’d be driving in from Gresham, Tigard, Tualatin, Beaverton, L.O., etc…

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  • Jackattak September 18, 2009 at 4:34 pm


    Some of us believe that all the suburbanites should be tolled when coming into the city proper.

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  • NoPo resident September 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I live 3 miles from the crossing. Luckily I have arranged my commute to mostly avoid I-5 sometimes its unavoidable. Duncan is right on. Yes, his way of saying it isn’t the most polite (though fairly brilliant), that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Lester, review your geography – people coming from any of the place you mention a) wouldn’t be using the crossing; b) are already on the roads anyway so would make no difference; and c) live in Oregon so at least they’re paying for the roads they use. It was Washington (Vancouver specifically) that refused the light rail station on “their side” of the crossing, thus rendering it more trouble than its worth for most people to use it to get from Vancouver to Portland. I guess the foots on the other hand now, isn’t it Kramer?

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    I dont hate them per say Lester- I hate them filling up my roads, bitching about the city which drives the economy that allows them to live in their exurban ghettos and demand i fork over my tax money to support their lifestyle.

    I rewrote the piece (rather drastic rewrite due to the 200 word limit) and submitted it to The Columbian. When I added that there letter to the editor limit forced me to remove every last joke (including the walmart joke, of which I was particularly fond) the editorial assistant wrote back:

    “Should this make it to publication, I don’t think that Vancouverites of whom you speak of are going to see much humor in it.”

    Now their is a woman with a sublime sense of humor.

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  • Duncan September 18, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    oh and thanks NoPo- I will take that as a compliment.

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  • Zaphod September 18, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Thank you Sam for your position on this.

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  • Josef September 18, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Bravo for post #7 Duncan. My sentiments exactly.

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  • Hart September 19, 2009 at 12:39 am

    I guess the Sam haters can go back to work now, huh?

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  • Mike September 19, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Duncan said a lot of the things I’ve been feeling. I’ve lived in Portland my whole life and I mostly see this as a favor to people in Vancouver. I think tolls are a good idea – if people are worried about freight travel, just give the truckers a free pass subsidy and charge the commuters and anyone else who wants to go over.

    However, for me the deal breaker is light rail. If we’re building a new bridge that’s supposed to last us past peak oil – yes! It’s coming soon! We NEED to have MAX going into Vancouver. I mean, when gas starts getting up to $8 or $10 a gallon in a few decades are people going to keep using these ridiculous number of lanes? No! They’re if they’re still trying to commute from city to city they’re going to want a freaking lightrail! Can we please look ahead to the future just a wee little bit? Please?

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  • Patrick September 19, 2009 at 6:42 am

    I have to give Mayor Sam credit, he realized that this $4 billion, 12 lane replacement for the freeway bridge over I-5 was not a wise plan. He supported it but after researching the details further, he now sees that it will not be an economically feasible project and he has backed away. Some politicians would have stuck with it regardless of the consequences and this shows that Sam Adams has the ability to go public and tell people that he was wrong. It shows character.

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  • Lester September 19, 2009 at 8:05 am


    a) I lived in PDX for 10 years, in all 5 quadrants. My point is that if all the workers were coming in from other OR points, increased traffic nightmares on the 84, 26, 43, 217, etc would be likely be experienced and require road improvements.

    b) Perhaps, but I often notice a lightening of traffic south of Marine Dr., seems like a lot of traffic gets off the I-5 there.

    c) True, OR does lose out on property taxes paid by potential home owners. But the State still gets their income tax and since gas and smokes are cheaper in OR, you’re getting some tax money from them quite often, I imagine.

    I’m not a big fan of long-distance commuters myself, but don’t hate Vancouverites that do it any worse than Greshamites that do it.

    I’m all for light rail across the river, but NOT down Main Street. Most of the congestion from VAN is fed to I-5 by SR-14, and other east-west tributaries like 4th Pl., Mill Pl. and sr-500. Those are the areas light rail needs to serve, not downtown VAN.

    Seem like nicer express buses could be a better solution than rail altogether, as they’re more flexible and cheaper to implement.

    I agree Mike, that tolls are a must. I’d even be for implementing a small toll for non-commercial auto travel even without a new bridge, just for maintenance costs.

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  • wsbob September 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

    “I mean, when gas starts getting up to $8 or $10 a gallon in a few decades are people going to keep using these ridiculous number of lanes? No!” Mike #40

    Federal government requires that regional planners make arrangements to accommodate population growth anticipated to occur over coming decades. This enabling of population growth means that all extra capacity in terms of traffic lanes that a new bridge would be designed for will probably be used and exceeded.

    If they don’t have a better choice to get to their jobs, of course people will pay whatever the going price of gas happens to be. Light rail across the bridge would help, as would a more extensive bus system. Those transportation aids though, would still leave us with the extraordinary investment in time and money being expended on the daily state to state commute. That’s an expense borne by many more people besides those actually in their cars crossing the bridge.

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  • Michael September 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

    An evolved parasite can suck the blood of its victim without notice. A lessor parasite can cause pain and gets swatted.

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  • KWW September 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    So what was the recommendation for light rail, to use the out of date rr bridge?

    I support Sam’s decision, no light rail, no bridge. It worked with I-205 and should be done with CRC.

    I don’t agree about the tolls. At minimum, charge a toll on I-205 crossing as well, to avoid pushing traffic to another part of the city.

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  • efglez September 20, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Thank you Sam, I am starting to like you again…

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  • John September 20, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    “bitching about the city which drives the economy that allows them to live in their exurban ghettos ”

    Whoa bro, simma down nah! I commute to PDX from the ‘couv almost everyday by bike and my neighbors ride bikes too and we don’t bitch about PDX at all! And what is an exurban ghetto? I don’t know anybody in a mcmansion around here in Vancouver, either

    We need a light rail that connects the colleges, and we need a safer route to navigate by bike past the delta park area. It serves no purpose in this forum to get all crotched out on where people live. Cross the river once in a while and check out the Vancouver farmers market and fort Vancouver. And holy shit, there’s the columbia river you can see it from Vancouver and PDX, OMG!

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  • Dave September 21, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I’m a Vancouverite who uses the bridge multiple times a week–and I say THANK YOU to mayor Adams. Nobody over on this side of the river is mentioning that our governor came to town to talk to some business folk, and in essence she said “no tolls, no bridge.”

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  • Duncan September 21, 2009 at 8:06 am

    You obviously have been missing the online comments that followed the Oregonian article linked above, or pretty much anytime the CRC is mentioned in the mainstream press- there are multiple comments to the effect of “we need a bridge, we need it now, we dont want to pay for it”.

    I understand that Vancouver is part of the Portland Metro area- they just need to start acting like it, and that means paying for improvements to the connections between the two cities and hooking into the transit system. maybe you aren’t one of the complainers, but the fact that one candidate for mayor of Vancouver has as his entire platform “no tolls” says that at least SOME of your neighbors share that sentiment.

    as to exerban ghetto, while my use of the word “exurband” may vary slightly from the connotative use of the word (found here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/exurban) I think that if you combine the words you and think a little you can come up with some locals that fit the bill- ie Camas, Troutdale, Hazel Dell…

    And while you yourself may not live in a McMansion their are certainly enough out there.

    The gist of my statements: that the vast majority of Clark County residents do not want to be part of the Urban Planning process, yet expect the benefits of it, and want to cherry pick the benefits they get (yes bigger bridge, no light rail, no tolls) is true. If you do not agree with your fellow Clark County residents, bully for you, but you should be talking to them not me…. because you and I agree. maybe you should try writing a letter to the editor of the Columbian, because I did and they had no interest in what someone from Portland had to say about the matter.

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  • Dave September 21, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Duncan, thanks for the concise explanation–and Elly, why do you have to be such a squeamish little thing regarding the language in comments?

    Dave, as an editor my job is to edit. I wonder if you’d phrase that question in the same way if Jonathan had been the one managing the comments last week? — Elly

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  • Duncan September 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

    If you and Jon are going to edit for language maybe you should post a “guidelines” or “seven deadly words” or something? That might help to clear up the tension?

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  • steve September 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Ms. Blue,

    I think Dave was simply pointing out how you appear to be overly sensitive and dare I say, over-bearing with your censoring, err.. ‘editing’.

    Your projection of your gender insecurities into his post is actually making his point for him.

    The comment section was clearly needing more oversight. You have clearly taken that task too far. Please get some thicker skin and take yourself a bit less seriously, we would all be better for it.

    Queue censorious nonsense.

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  • Elly Blue September 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Alright, looking more closely at this comment thread — anyone want to refresh my memory about any comments that were edited or censored here?

    We’re still doing almost no outright deleting of comments — about the same as we always did — the only change is that now we’re stepping in to ask you to play nice.

    If your comment doesn’t show up here feel free to get in touch with us about it — sometimes things are caught in the spam filter for mysterious reasons.

    And really, be nice. To each other if not to us. Thanks.

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  • rev September 21, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Im glad sam changed his mind. I dont for one second believe that this is dead. The CRC is still spending millions to make it happen.

    A great way to prevent it from happening is to speak out at community meetings, the next one the CRC is scheduled to speak at is on Tuesday night!

    9/22 7-9pm
    CRC Community Meeting
    Memorial Lutheran Church
    2700 E 28th Street
    Vancouver, WA 98661

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  • Dan Kaufman September 22, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    “The CRC is still spending millions to make it happen.” Our millions. Don’t you love how were paying for them to promote their project back at us. At $1-million a month they’ve hired some of the best in the business.

    Kitzhaber, Bradbury, want your vote for governor. Let’s find out where they stand on this boondoggle.

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  • Michael September 22, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Citizen rebellion stopped the Mt Hood Freeway, another boondoggle in the making.

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