Talk about a marriage of convenience. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, has teamed up with Portland opponents of the CRC project that would replace the aging Interstate Bridge spans between Vancouver and Portland. Benton showed up at a rally held by bridge foes yesterday in Portland.
State Sen. Don Benton, a southwest Washington Republican, urged the crowd to hold elected officials accountable for their views on the project.
“We need to hear loud and clear: If you don’t stop this boondoggle we will replace you,” Benton said.
Benton left out his often acerbic criticism of light rail and Portland-area urban growth policies. After his speech, Benton said he would prefer a highway ring around the Portland-Vancouver area, perhaps widening I-5 in North Portland and a third Columbia River bridge to relieve congestion on the I-5 bridge.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Coalition for a Livable Future, 1000 Friends of Oregon and Smarterbridge.org were among the organizers and presenters at the event.
These Portland groups have relentlessly attacked the CRC project by yammering endlessly about a “12-lane bridge,” virtually ignoring the fact a new bridge would also (finally) get light rail across the river and yield a vastly improved bicycle facility. Now they’re teaming up with a far-right Republican who wants to build a third bridge and a loop highway around Portland. Which tells you all you need to know about the intellectual honesty of these Portland groups.
I always thought maybe I was being too harsh on these Portland “environmentalists,” but now I’m pretty convinced they are just banging their particular tribal drum. Portland good, Vancouver, bad. There are legitimate reasons to keep discussing the new bridge, as it stands to be one of the most important investments this region will make in our lifetimes, but anyone who has taken a cursory glance at the project knows half of those 12 lanes would be used for “mixing” traffic in a short stretch of I-5 before and after the bridge.
If these Portland groups want to team up with a guy like Benton, nobody in Washington state progressive circles should really take them very seriously. If they were serious they would present their arguments in an intellectually honest manner instead of focusing on a distorted messaging campaign and sideshow tricks.