Wash. lawmaker wants to stop I-5 bridge project

Credit: KGW Photojournalist Ken McCormick

Wash. lawmaker wants to stop I-5 bridge project

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by KGW Reporter Abbey Gibb

kgw.com

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 4:24 PM

Poll:
Do you support the Columbia River Crossing bridge project?

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- It's been more than a decade in the making, and now the future of the Columbia River Crossing, the proposed new bridge that connects Oregon and Washington, could be in jeopardy. At least if some representatives in Clark County get their way.

"It is now or never for building a bridge across the Columbia River. If we don't take action this year, there won't be action for a decade," said Washington Governor Jay Inslee during a press conference Wednesday.

Inslee asked U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to come to Olympia and convince lawmakers to agree to the hefty $450 million price tag, which would serve as Washington's share of the $3.5 billion CRC project.

Legislatures must approve that in order to get $850 million in federal funding.

But with only three weeks left in session, time is running out. Some in Clark County said they will do everything they can to stop the project from moving forward.

Washington Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) is among the opponents of the plan. He pointed out the impact a possible toll would have on workers who already pay Oregon income tax, but live in Washington.

"Now we're going to ask those families to fork up anywhere from $2,000--on the minimum--to $4,000 a year more just to keep their jobs," Benton said.

Those who have worked for a decade on this project in Oregon say not building a bridge is not an option.

"I'd feel disappointed obviously. There are some who advocate starting over but we would likely end up in this same place some years down the road, facing the same problems and making the same compromises," said Oregon Sen. Tobias Reed (D-Beaverton).

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