Camas High School Senior Kyle Moore contributed the following opinion/editorial piece to the Camasonian:
Have you ever sat in traffic waiting to get on the I-205 or I-5 bridge from Clark County? It’s a mess and wastes so much time each and every day. Traffic coming from and going to Portland does not flow, nor does it work well. The portion of I-205 from the Highway 14 entrance through the airport is congested most hours of each day. The traffic crossing the Columbia River on I-5 is congested all hours of the day from Vancouver through the Portland Meadows or even the Swan Island exits. There is no good way for commuters and commercial traffic to get from Portland to Washington or Washington to Portland.
There have been multiple occasions where making a third bridge was brought up to both states, but it never happened. For example, in 2014 transportation architect Kevin Peterson showed Oregon and Washington community leaders the design/build firms of a bridge that would benefit the community and the county. Another bridge is definitely needed and plans have been created and discussed for more than 15 years. The most promising was the Columbia Crossing bridge, but it failed to be built. Bridge congestion is worsening due to increased truck traffic and the new casino north of Vancouver.
Three times voters in Clark County have approved bridges coming off 192nd Avenue and crossing the Columbia just west of downtown Vancouver through the port areas of Washington and Oregon. The Washington state house has approved funds to begin the process but the Senate did not move forward with this. One has to wonder if Washington is looking at the traffic problems of Seattle rather than Southwest Washington crossing the Columbia. The site of the crossing is located in the city limits of Vancouver and the city council want to focus on light rail rather than a new bridge.
The voters of Washington see the traffic jams daily and have noticed the increasing numbers of Oregonians crossing into Clark County to go to work. The state of Oregon wants to toll both bridges into Portland and use the money to improve roads far south and east of Portland. This has drawn ire from those people who cross the bridges each day to go to work or to spend time on the Oregon side of the river. Those Oregonians who travel across the bridges each day are concerned that their lives will also be impacted by tolls.
U.S. Representative Jamie Herrera Beutler has been a leader in the fight against Oregon bridge tolling. She has sent information to her constituents and held town hall meetings to discuss ways to make the toll tax not occur. She has submitted a plan that builds a bridge off the 192nd Avenue conjunction with State Highway 14. The construction would allow the first portion of a wider circle around Portland similar to the 205 loop. The bridge would be built approximately four miles east of the current 205 bridge; the estimated price is $860 million.
The strong economy in the Portland metropolitan area means more people are relocating here in the Camas/Washougal Area. The cost of living is high but more reasonable than Seattle or San Francisco. Building a new bridge to alleviate traffic congestion simply makes good economic sense for our region.