CRC key issue for Ore. legislators Monday

CRC key issue for Ore. legislators Monday


by Wayne Havrelly, KGW Staff

Posted on February 3, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 3 at 11:52 AM

SALEM -- On Monday morning, Oregon lawmakers will go back into session to face some tough issues.  Governor Kitzhaber has been pushing lawmakers to revive the massive CRC project over the Columbia river. 

After 14 years of planning the project was scrapped after lawmakers in Olympia declined to fund the massive project last June.  

More than 130,000 vehicles a day cross the interstate bridge, which is really two bridges.  The Northbound bridge was built in 1917.  Construction on the southbound bridge was complete in 1957. 

It's been a daily bottleneck for decades. 

"It's extremely horrible," said Robin McFarlane of Vancouver who commutes to Oregon Health & Science University every weekday. 

Many Vancouver residents said they're rooting for Oregon lawmakers to keep the CRC project alive after their own legislature pulled out of the massive project. 

Complete coverage: Columbia River Crossing

"It's a crying shame because we spent so much money and we've got nothing for it," said Amy Klennert of Vancouver.

On KGW's public affairs program "Straight Talk" on Saturday, Democratic majority Whip Tobias Reed and House Republican Leader Mike Mclane didn't hold back on the controversial issue. 

"Let's face it, Washington said no and we can't launch a bridge from Oregon and land it in Washington without their participation and their legislature said no," said (R) Mike Mclane. 

"Actually they didn't say no," said (D) Tobias Reed. "Their legislature never got to vote, it was prevented by a very small minority in the Washington senate."

In addition to debating an effort to revive the CRC, Oregon lawmakers will work on trying to fix the messy roll out of the Cover Oregon website, which still doesn't work correctly.

"Let's face it, it's a colossal disaster," said Rep. Mclane.

Lawmakers will also consider legislation requiring background checks on private gun sales and a bill that would have the legislature work out details of legalizing recreational marijuana. 

However, since it's a short 5-week session, neither bill is expected to gain much traction.

"I agree with Rep. Reed on that, I don't think we have the proper time in this short session for either bill," said Mclane.

Working out the state's budget will also be a top priority when the session gets rolling Monday morning.