A right-wing think tank in Washington is pressing the state’s auditor to turn an eye toward the Columbia River Crossing.
Seattle-based Washington Policy Center sent a letter to Washington Auditor Brian Sonntag last week, asking for action. The center’s director, Mike Ennis, says he made the request after meeting with the Acuity Group, a Vancouver accounting firm hired by staunch anti-CRC activist and Clark County Commission-elect David Madore.
The controversial CRC proposes to replace aging Interstate 5 bridges with two new spans, five miles of interchange improvements, light rail to downtown Vancouver and bike and pedestrian crossings.
“Their investigation on the CRC project found contracting irregularities, incomplete accounting, double payments, cost overruns, conflicts of interest and violations of the Open Public Meetings Act,” Ennis wrote.
WW has outlined some of those concerns, including the ballooning of the $3.5 billion project’s budget under private contractor David Evans and Associates, and that Gov. John Kitzhaber's adviser on the megaproject also works for David Evans. Also chief among problems are the fact that the spans are too low to accommodate tall ships who use the Columbia River and are unlikely to get Coast Guard approval.
So far, Oregon and Washington taxpayers have paid about $160 million for planning costs; construction has been delayed to 2014 at the earliest.
Sonntag’s office did not immediately return calls for comment.