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October 9th, 2013 NIGEL JAQUISS | News Stories
 

Toll On, Columbia

The CRC will gouge Oregon drivers more than previously disclosed.

news3b_3949NOTE: The 2011 toll estimate assumes the price for a 2018 CRC opening. The current estimates assume a 2022 opening. - Sources: CRC final environmental impact statement; Oregon Department of Transportation
Gov. John Kitzhaber is fresh from a successful special legislative session, where he pushed through reforms to the state’s public pension system and raised taxes to add $200 million in school funding to the state’s budget.

The big item still on his to-do list, however, is the $2.8 billion Columbia River Crossing.

Kitzhaber has been desperately trying to convince lawmakers that Oregon can build the bridge by itself.

This Oregon-only approach is at odds with statements he made earlier this year that Oregon needed the state of Washington as a partner for the Interstate 5 project.

Authority to spend $450 million on the project, which lawmakers approved during the regular session, expired Sept. 30, and some lawmakers are now reluctant to support Kitzhaber’s pet project again.

One reason might be the hidden cost to Oregon drivers: Proposed tolls for the bridge for many drivers have more than doubled since estimates in 2011.

As first reported on wweek.com, the state’s own consultant, CDM Smith, projects the number of cars that would use the bridge per day has fallen, pushing up the price of estimated tolls.

The tolls are supposed to cover the $1.9 billion Oregon would have to borrow to build the project—a risk the state, under Kitzhaber’s latest scheme, would have to bear alone. 

 
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