SALEM-- An Oregon-led attempt to a build a new bridge spanning the Columbia River has failed to move forward in the Oregon Legislature this year marking the demise of the project, again.
The legislatures failed to reauthorize the spending needed to keep the controversial Columbia River Crossing project alive during the 2014 Legislative Session that closed Friday.
“The project will begin the process of orderly archival and closeout,” said ODOT Director Mathew Garret Friday. “The project will shut down completely by May 31, 2014.”
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Gov. John Kitzhaber and Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, D-Portland, had been the key champions of the idea of a slightly scaled back Oregon-led option for building the bridge after the Washington legislature backed out of its obligations to the project in the summer or 2013.
Despite reports of wavering support among Oregon lawmakers, Kotek said that Washington had once again come up with the needed commitments to move things forward.
"In the end, however, Washington again failed to step up," Kotek said Friday. "Even though a majority of Washington legislators signed a letter of support, action was required by Governor Jay Inslee to move forward. Absent clear, public commitment from Governor Inslee and the necessary memoranda of understanding between our two states, an Oregon-led project will not be approved this year."
The project has been ten years in the planning and over $100 million has already been spent on preparing for the massive transit and freeway project. However, in the last several years the bridge has been stymied by political gridlock as pro-transit activists on the Oregon side of the river decried its freeway elements and pro-car activists in Washington decried the projects transit elements.