Provincial, parochial: the anti-Portland, anti-tax, anti-light railers

Provincial: from the provinces; having local or restricted interests or outlook

Parochial: confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish; limited in range or scope

I live in Vancouver, Washington – a city of 170,000 just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. (No, we are not in British Columbia.).

Many people in Clark County work in Portland, and vice versa. Many of us also like the cultural and shopping opportunities in Portland.

Our two communities are linked by two interstate highways that cross the river . I-5 is the main west coast interstate thoroughfare – running from the Canadian border to the Mexican one. I-205 is a 40ish-mile by-pass a few miles east of I-5. Both highways cross the big river on bridges.

The I-5 bridge is old, narrow, and not earthquake safe. And with the rapid growth in the region, traffic on the bridge at peak hours slows to a crawl, and the crawl times get longer every year. It is also a draw bridge: because of its low profile any tall boat traveling up or down river means the bridge is raised and traffic stops completely for about ten minutes.

For all these reasons a bi-state task force has been studying solutions to this problem for years. They call themselves the Columbia River Crossing. At this point they’re about to release their recommendation and are taking public testimony.

Last night there was a hearing in Vancouver and all the anti-Portland, anti-tax, anti-light railers were out in force. They fear that our taxes will sky-rocket, that all the Portland riff-raff will ride the rails to Vancouver in order to rape our girls and steal our cars, and they think that light rail is a socialist plot. “We don’t need no stinkin’ Portland…”

The challenge is getting the pro-light railers out. So tonight I went to the second hearing to testify – this one in Portland. Not surprisingly most of the speakers were in favor of the project and of light rail.

I love my town, but sometimes I just want to shake my neighbors. With gas prices going through the roof, oil only getting scarcer, air getting more foul, and federal money available for this project now it seems like a no-brainer to me.

Having lived in the Bay Area before and after BART was built, I know how fabulous light rail is. But these folks haven’t left the provinces to experience it for themselves.

Sigh.

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