Our readers are concerned about federal, state and local issues, and think you should be, too.

In 2011, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty held a Columbia River Crossing Alternatives Forum. Out of 15 ideas presented, Metro's representative on the expert panel liked the following idea the best. It is also well-received by the public.

Use existing roads to build an interstate route from U.S. Highway 26 to the Highway 500/Intersate 5 junction in Washington. The Oregon portion — Cornelius Pass Road, Highway 30, Columbia Boulevard and North Marine Drive — is under consideration as a "north throughway" in the Washington County Transportation Futures study. The Washington portion can consist of Fruit Valley Road — with several existing links to I-5. A main one — potentially underground — would be at Northeast 39th and Highway 500.

This could be a U.S. highway — not an I-205 clone — consistent with Federal Highway Administration collector highway standards. In fact, these existing routes may constitute a local contribution for matching federal funds. The bridges can be of the proven Network Tied Arch design — for example, Alsea Bay bridge — which is highly efficient and resilient, plus standardized arch components and prefabricated sections. This design is very popular worldwide and is designated for an I-74 improvement in Iowa. Tunneling under Skyline ridge can use the efficient New Austrian Tunneling method, and would probably be less than three-quarters of a mile.

This ultimately saves on U.S. 26 and I-5 improvements, inevitable with the increasing commute and freight between the two states. It also establishes a far shorter route, making public and alternative transport more feasible.

Ron Swaren

Southeast Portland

Ryan got his; too bad for the rest of us

It certainly looks as though Paul Ryan and his Republican cadre plan on retiring from Congress in the next election. Why else would they set out to destroy Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid?

These programs have always been considered the "third rail" of politics, and while politicians have in the past threatened to dismantle them, none have dared move forward to actually do it. They realized that their career in Congress would come to an abrupt end should they destroy these programs. Especially since the Republican base is made up of seniors and the poor in those red states.

It's ironic that Ryan, who relied heavily on Social Security Survivor's benefits to put himself through college, now wants to deprive Americans of the same chance. He got his, and too bad about the rest of us. The Social Security fund is there for the picking and Ryan intends to hand the money over to Wall Street to make them and himself even richer.

This next session of Congress is going to be interesting to watch. Let's see how many decide to cut their careers short by standing behind Ryan's plans.

Kathy Wnorowski


Rethink state's use of loaned executives

The Tribune's recent reporting of issues involving members of the governor's top staff depicts the real need for the Legislature to direct development of a stronger set of criteria governing the use and placement of loaned executives in state government. Particularly, loaned executives borrowed, shared or eventually secured from such public bodies as the Port of Portland and such public-benefit nonprofit entities as OHSU.

This could likely be best achieved by use of the Legislature's "budget note" process — adding specific instruction to an appropriate state agency's budget. 

Such a budget note needs to include reporting the results of it to the state's Emergency Board, and a continued periodic review by the board of the use of loaned executives. 

A better set of governing criteria might lessen the difficulties there seem to be of late with serving in such arrangements.

Les Ruark

Arlington, Oregon

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