Gov. Jay Inslee, also at the meeting, brought LaHood to Olympia yesterday, and specifically to the Republican-dominated Majority Coaltion Caucus, to discuss the controversial Columbia River Crossing project yesterday.
After the meeting, Republican Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver), who adamantly opposes the project, in part because it would include light rail, posted on his web page that he and the MCC "schooled" LaHood.
"I’ve been working hard to keep our coalition members informed about the many significant flaws in the CRC project, so we were ready with questions when Governor Inslee brought Secretary LaHood in to lobby our coalition this morning. As a result, it wasn’t even a fair fight. I’d say we schooled the transportation secretary in a way he couldn’t possibly have expected,” said Benton, R-Vancouver, noting LaHood’s visit is part of a CRC propaganda blitz at the Capitol today.
“I guess the governor thought he could strong-arm the Senate Majority Coalition into rolling over by bringing the D.C. folks in to give us the same ‘this bridge or no bridge’ lecture he’s been delivering. Instead, the transportation secretary had his hat handed to him, and I have to believe I will find even more support now for my efforts to force a redesign of the CRC project.”
Benton's objections to the project have prevented the transportation committee from releasing a transportation budget.
Benton goes second in the video.
The five-mile project, a ten-lane double-deck bridge, with ten lanes above for cars and ten lanes below for transit, bikes, and peds, could cost as much as $10 billion. The CRC, wich would replace the Interstate Bridge that currently connects Vancouver and Portland, faces opponents from both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives such as Benton don't like the light rail component—though that helps with federal funding—while environmentalists on the left don't like buidling out auto capacity.