Joe MelroyEach spring I umpire youth baseball. So maybe that’s why it strikes me (pun intended) that discussion of the need for a new Columbia River Bridge on I-5 merits the use of a few baseball analogies.

For example, some people might see the earlier, bi-state attempt to develop the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) as a “strike” – a perfectly thrown pitch that we just plain missed.

Others might see the failed CRC as a “ball” – a badly thrown pitch that deserved to be ignored.

You can call it as you see it, but no matter how you do, it’s time for the next pitch for the replacement of this substandard bridge. Why? Because our state and regional economies are being negatively impacted by chronic traffic congestion at this I-5 choke point.

Washington will need to work on this with Oregon. It’s time for local leadership to step to the plate now. Who’s it going to be? Clark County voices raised objection to a new I-5 bridge a few years ago. Therefore Washington and Oregon governors and legislators will need to see there is local political will to move this project forward.

To that end, our port commission, in concert with the two other ports in Clark County, recently issued a joint resolution to voice support for a new bi-state conversation to replace this bridge.

Are we going to connect with a thriving Portland-Metro area and the greater region? If we want more business on our side of the river, we need an I-5 bridge that can do the job.

So let me give it to you straight – local leadership needs to step up to the plate because it’s time to play ball!