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Clark Asks: Amtrak question popular with readers

With all the talk about the idea of extending Portland’s light rail system over the Columbia River someday, it was inevitable somebody would ask about the rail link that’s been there for 111 years.

After all, there’s been regular railroad traffic between Vancouver and Portland since nine years before the Interstate 5 Bridge opened, over the prosaically named BNSF Railway Bridge 9.6.

That connection was front of mind for an anonymous reader who submitted the following question to Clark Asks, The Columbian’s reader-guided reporting project: “Why doesn’t Amtrak offer train service from the station in Vancouver into downtown Portland during normal commute hours?”

The question received 52 percent of the vote in a recent voting round, which means it’s won top priority among the three questions offered up for review in October. Our transportation reporter, Jeffrey Mize, has already started working on the story for publication later this month.

The next highest vote-getter was submitted by reader Christian Bair: “Why is the speed limit on the newly completed expansion of Northeast 18th Street 35 mph while Mill Plain Boulevard, with far more driveways, is 40 mph?”

Coming in third was another anonymous question: “Why are there so many dead trees not being taken out of right of ways along major roads and what obligations do property owners have?”

If your favorite didn’t end up the top vote-getter this time, don’t worry. They’re all good questions, and runners-up often end up in future voting rounds or are reported and written as time allows.

Most recently, Wyatt Stayner explained how Evergreen Public Schools decided to name its biosciences high school in honor of Henrietta Lacks, a black cancer patient from 1951 whose improperly sampled cells ended up as the most widely used human cells in scientific research.

Earlier, Anthony Macuk discovered the fate of two abandoned buildings looming over a parking lot for the Providence Academy. Calley Hair tracked down two of the four former totem poles that decorated the former Totem Pole restaurant in Hazel Dell. And Jeffrey Mize confirmed a reader’s suspicion that most temporary commercial signs along city streets are, in fact, illegal.

All of those stories started as questions from readers. Now, it’s your turn. Is there something that has always perplexed or intrigued you? Swing by our Clark Asks website and post it there, and we’ll see what we can do to answer it.



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