Arguments for and against

The following arguments for and against Advisory Vote#1 will appear in the November 2014 Voters’ Pamphlet. Each committee (pro and con) has been invited to provide counterpoints.

Vancouver Port Commissioner Jerry Oliver provides a 4 minute video appeal for citizens to vote Yes on Clark County Advisory Vote One to support the proposed Toll-free East County Bridge.

Vancouver City Councilmember Jack Burkman urges citizens to vote No on any third bridge project and instead to support the only project that makes sense, I-5 CRC project.

The committee opposed to this ballot measure has been invited to provide counterpoints, but has not responded. (See the letter at the bottom of this page.)

Last November, Clark County citizens voted “yes” to explore a toll-free East County Bridge across the Columbia River and “no” on the CRC Light Rail Tolling project. We now have a beautiful environmentally sound design that meets all voter approved specifications and a commitment to complete all permits and construction within five years upon approval. Our bi-state community can now choose to support or dismiss this opportunity starting with Clark County citizens.

The I-5 Bridge is certified as structurally sound. The CRC required a $450 million down payment from each state. Tolls were required for additional billions in debt service and to meet local match requirements for federal light rail funds. The East County Bridge total cost is less than the CRC bi-state down payment alone and eliminates all costs that require tolls. A financial firm has committed to back the project with flexible terms if desired.

Congestion relief is provided by adding a third toll-free crossing, not by funneling more traffic into existing congested Portland chokepoints over a light rail toll-bridge-too-low that hinders river navigation and harms our marine freight corridor. We built our second toll-free Columbia River Bridge thirty-one years ago — the I-205. It’s time to build our third toll-free bridge to better connect our fast growing bi-state community with a smarter, less expensive, and faster solution.

Page ___ of this Voters’ Pamphlet shows the resolution that supports this vision. See for the design and information to cast an enthusiastic “yes” vote for our third toll-free bridge.

Here is the Rebuttal to the “Statement For” in Red, with counterpoints in Blue:

The “Statement for” is filled with false, misleading information.
If this is true, then every citizen should absolutely vote against this ballot measure. However, the truth of such a general declaration is only established by specifics. What specifically is false? What specifically is misleading? A request to the con-committee, inviting them to provide those specifics, has gone unanswered to date.

It’s a sales pitch filled with generalities and ‘promises’ that can’t be honored.
Again, an open letter asking the con-committee for those specifics has gone unanswered to date.

There’s no “beautiful environmentally sound design” – only a few incomplete artist drawings.
No design / build / financing firm can quote or deliver such a project based on “only a few incomplete artist drawings”. Those not familiar with Figg Engineering’s design work falsely presume that the PowerPoint presentation that they shared revealed all of their engineering work.

No private firm would reveal all of their Intellectual Property at no cost when making such a proposal. Until this bridge project is voted in by the community, it would be inappropriate to reveal the hundreds of engineering drawings and documents that serve as the basis for the maximum quoted price, the delivery schedule, the rendered graphics, and the backing of the financial firm standing ready to offer financing for this project.

Any financial firm can lend money, but we pay for it – plus interest and profit.
No fiscally responsible financial firm would risk hundreds of millions of dollars in cash without first doing their due diligence to ensure that the investment is financially viable and sound. The fact that this project has already received such financial backing refutes the argument that this project is financially unrealistic. Yes, our two states will need to authorize the necessary transportation funds, but the funds will be drawn from the billions in state gas taxes that are being collected annually for transportation projects such as this one.

Approving this advisory vote takes the power out of citizens’ hands and says commissioners don’t need to give you real facts and information.
This statement is self-contradictory. Providing a means for citizens to voice their support or opposition of any major project is the most effective way to obtain the consent of the governed and to empower citizens. Elections are the most effective means to empower citizens to control their own destiny. This advisory vote rightly places the power in the hands of the citizens that this project is to serve.  This not direct democracy, rather it is the most effective expression of representative government.

This argument is refuted by the obvious fact that you are reading this and that the facts and information has been provided.  Requests for any additional facts and specific information are welcome and the answers will be published here.  Full disclosure of cost, financing, timeline, and design for this project is now provided, and scrutiny is welcomed so that citizens can cast an informed vote on this project. If you have any unanswered questions, please express them using the contact information provided in the website to ask them. We will do our best to answer every question.

Here is the “Statement Against” in Red, with counterpoints in Blue:

No real financial plan – this proposed bridge is not free – it requires a new tax
For decades, Washington and Oregon citizens have been paying some of the highest gas taxes in the nation. Except for two recent bridge projects (the Tacoma Narrows and the SR-520 Bridges), our gas taxes have provided for virtually every road and bridge project since the 1950s.

The Q&A page shows the billions in gas tax revenue that drivers pay annually for all of our transportation construction and maintenance projects. The financial plan for the East County Bridge is also explained on the Q&A page. It is a simple one. Oregon and Washington legislatures each vote to authorize less funds than they were already willing to spend on the CRC down payment alone. The financial firm backing this project is offering multi-year financial terms if desired. No new tax is required.

The CRC project down payment did not require new taxes or tolls. The tolls were added not for the down payment, but for the additional billions in debt and to meet the local matching requirements for federal light rail funds. This project eliminates both of those costs.

The proposed finance plan is “the states of Oregon and Washington will pay for this.” That’s no finance plan!
Virtually all our states’ roads and bridges (with two exceptions identified earlier), have been funded and built by the ways and means provided by our existing transportation tax collection system already in place.  Our legislatures, as stewards of those funds then prioritize and allocate those funds for specific projects. Those funds can be wisely spent on actual practical infrastructure construction or squandered as we’ve seen $200 million in cash spent on a voter-rejected CRC Light Rail Tolling project bureaucracy. Step by step, as the good sense of projects become apparent, wise leadership, committed to faithfully represent the communities that these projects are to serve, prioritize those projects. The challenge is not the availability of funds, but the need for practical problem solving skills that wisely sort priorities. 

This violates last year‘s advisory vote which said bring it back to voters “once there is a clear project defined, including the financing plan”. And asking you to spend nearly $1.0 billion but not telling you where the money is coming from is financially irresponsible. We can’t afford the upkeep of our existing roads today – any new bridge will require a new tax.
The claim that we do not have enough money even to maintain our roads is proven false by the history of the CRC project that already spent $200 million in cash to promote light rail and the continued attempts to pour more money into that voter rejected project. Clark County roads, as maintained by our Public Works Department, are the best in the state and kept in excellent condition. 

The intended purpose of our existing gas taxes is to build new roads and bridges with those user fees. Washington and Oregon citizens have been paying those gas taxes for 31 years while all cross-river traffic was funneled across two bridges and other major projects across the states were fully funded. It would be financially irresponsible, after so many years, to continue to neglect this region’s needs to adequately connect our two states.  

No fix for any of today’s transportation problems
Adding a third bridge won’t fix any I-5 congestion or long-term safety issues and it does little to help I-205. SR-14 and 192nd Ave are not designed to accommodate the additional traffic.
These claims, made by laymen with no transportation architecture or system training or expertise, are refuted by transportation system architect Kevin Peterson in the presentation provided here. These claims are also contradicted by the 2008 Transportation Corridor Visioning Study (page 25) that confirmed the appropriateness of the East County Bridge as the best of multiple alternative crossings.

The proposed four-lane bridge drops into Airport Way, but with NO connection to Portland’s major highway system. This is like having a bridge end in the middle of East Mill Plain. There will be traffic gridlock at both ends of the bridge.
Airport Way connects with I-84 within one mile at Exit-13. In addition, provision is made for a future phase to fly over Airport Way and directly connect to I-84. Reserving that step for the future, streamlines this project now and the federal project later. The old saying “Don’t make a federal case out of it” is rooted in the complexity, cost, and expense of expanding a project to include federal involvement with too many variables. In contrast, state control is simpler, faster, and much lower cost. The number of federal variables is reduced to zero now and a minimum number later. Click on these thumbnails to expand them to see the provision for a flyover direct connection to I-84. 





No public involvement
There have been no public meetings, no discussions with community leaders or citizens of Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Troutdale, Gresham, or Portland; those most affected by the plan. This is a private plan developed in secrecy by a private individual, then released as a vision on July 25.
The widely publicized public meeting in July, presented the full proposal to the bi-state community and was broadcast live on cable TV as well as video recorded. The video shows the numerous community leaders who participated along with hundreds of citizens attending from our bi-state community. Every appropriate community leader on both sides of the bridge was invited.

To invite and include community participation, this project idea has been brought to the community in two county-wide elections, has had numerous Facebook commentary postings by leaders and  citizens, has been a frequent Lars Larson topic, and has been featured in various bi-state news stories on radio and TV for over a year. Projects don’t get much more open and public than this. This process was launched by a November 2013 voter-approved resolution, and since then, the project has modeled transparency, openness, accountability, and full disclosure.

By necessity, the bridge design firm, as a private company, retains hundreds of internal documents as protected intellectual property that would be inappropriate to disclose to competitors at this point. If the community agrees to accept the design/build proposal, ample documentation will be provided as elaborated in the proposal. 

As momentum builds for this project, meetings and discussions are continuing with businesses, community leaders, and the affected jurisdictions.

No real financial plan. No real fix for our roads. No public involvement. Vote NO!
These points were individually addressed above and the supporting evidence was provided that refutes each claim individually.

Visit to see more.
If this is not an appropriate solution for our community, what is? What vision for the future is offered in its place? We should all welcome achievable alternatives to move our community forward. Whatever the path forward, the legitimacy of that solution is evidenced not by dollars spent on a bureaucracy, nor on the number of meetings that dictate a predetermined outcome, but by authentic citizen participation and support for a community embraced vision that welcomes open transparent private sector innovative practical solutions.  
The process is as important as the project.  

Stagnation is not an option. This third bridge provides a tangible opportunity to better connect our community for a vibrant thriving local economy. We invite better ideas.

Here is the Rebuttal to the “Statement Against” in Red, with counterpoints in Blue. The committee opposed to this ballot measure has been invited to provide counterpoints, but has not responded.

These same defeatist arguments were made against our toll-free I-205. They claim we can’t afford this, so build the much more expensive CRC.

The billions paid in annual state gas taxes for our roads can build this bridge like they did for our I-205.

The naysayers fear that this project will be too successful and carry too much traffic. Your participation is key to our community’s success. 

For full design and financial plans, see

The following email was sent to the Committee Against the East County Bridge.  No answer has been received:

September 2, 2014

To Jack Burkman, Paul Dennis, and Molly Coston,

We have not received a response to our invitation sent to you on August 25. Since you are the committee members against the East County Bridge ballot measure, we welcome you to express your dissent to the points published on the arguments page of the East County Bridge website at

Clark County citizens should hear all sides. Please accept our sincere invitation to provide your counterpoints to the statements, rebuttals, and counterpoints posted there. We agree to post your counterpoints “as is”.

We invite you to follow the established format that breaks the statements (in red) into individual points followed by specific counterpoints (in blue). You are invited to make counterpoints (in green) to our counterpoints. Our goal is to help each citizen to cast a well-informed vote.

Please let us know if you are interested in our invitation. You can reply to this email address:

Thank you for your consideration,

Committee for the East County Bridge ballot measure,
Jerry Oliver
John Ley
David Madore
cell: 360-601-3056

On September 14, this follow up message was sent to Jack Burkman:

I hope that you are intending on accepting our warm invitation from the pro-committee to you and the committee against the East County Bridge to provide your rebuttals of our statements on our website:  Voters would be better served to hear both sides.  The truth knows no fear of exposure. It welcomes scrutiny.

Still no reply.