PORTLAND, Ore. -- Local lawmakers and transportation officials got quite an earful about proposed changes to a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia.
Several hundred concerned citizens jammed into a meeting to express concerns over a new cost cutting plan which would change the already controversial project across the Columbia river.
Basically our island is getting shafted, said Hayden Island resident Ed Garren. It was like a beautiful Lexus hybrid, said Garren. These refinements turn it into a 20 year old Oldsmobile that needs a ring job.
New design changes reduce bridge lanes and manyimprovements on Hayden island. Thousands of islanderscould lose stores and vital services.
The design changes would also cut several hundred million dollars from what could be a $4 billion-project. Members of the business community urged project officials to move forward and create thousands of jobs.
The construction industry isn't in a recession we're in a depression, said John Mollusk with the Building Trades Council. We've had people out of work for over a year and unemployment is at25 to 45percent in construction.
Marianne Haines with the Oregon Business Association told theColumbia River CrossingCouncil, Businesses and communitites around the state are depending on you to move this project forward and do it in a timely manner.
Nobody argues we need a new bridge across the Columbia, but pleasing everybody may be impossible.
It's time to go back to the drawing board gentleman, said Jim Howe to a large applause from the audience.
Project advisors which include transportation officials and mayors from both Portland and Vancouverwon't go that far.
However after Friday's large showing from the public theyagreed to meet again in January to take a closer look at the latest design changes before moving forward.