PORTLAND -- President Obama announced Monday that the Columbia River Crossing project is the first of four transportation projects in the country getting expedited as part of his "We Can't Wait" infrastructure initiative.
"These projects will improve connectivity across regions, both rural and urban and provide for the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services," said the White House statement. "Coordination among agencies will save between several months to more than a year on these projects."
The 3.5 billion dollar project which also extends light rail to Vancouver has been stagnated by a complicated review and permitting process.
"This sends a strong message to congress and to state legislatures that this project needs to get done as soon as possible," said Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt on Sunday afternoon. "I believe it will happen, now it's up to our state and federal partners to come up with the financing."
The prospect of President Obama speeding up the process has many supporters, but some worry presidential politics could bring more divisiveness to an already controversial project.
"I hope the politics calm down and we get around to getting this thing done or stopping it, but let's base it on what the community needs, not politics," said Vancouver resident Dick Sielaff.
"I think it's a game changer and it's a good thing in the right direction for the people in Portland and Vancouver," said Vancouver resident Wayne Bernal.
The feds already approved the project more than a year ago, but without funding.
With the President fast tracking the CRC, federal dollars could finally start flowing into the most expensive public works project in our region's history.
The other three projects included in "We Can't Wait" are Maine's $25 million Kennebec Bridge Replacement Project, North Dakota's $100 million Devils Lake Rail Improvements project and Washington's $89 million Point Defiance Bypass Project.
The Point Defiance Bypass Project will help provide high-speed rail service from Seattle to several other cities, including Portland.