Proponents of the $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing Project will kick off their quest for funding in a 3 pm hearing on Monday in the Capitol. Gov. John Kitzhaber, who testifies before the Legislature infrequently, will kick off the festivities.
Rather than trying to steer complex and controversial legislation though the transportation committees of both chambers, legislative leaders named a special, joint committee, which will minimize the number of hearings and work sessions on the bill.
The special committee includes six senators and 10 representatives, none of them critics of the project. It's also worth noting that four of the 10 House members are rookies; Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville) and three Democrats (Reps. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) John Lively (D-Springfield) and Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay). Stacking a committee with newcomers unlikely to buck House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), a strong booster of the project, could also speed the process.
To that end, the bill includes a section clearly aimed at mollifying some of the Portland Democrats, including Sens. Chip Shields and Jackie Dingfelder and Reps. Lew Frederick and Michael Dembrow, whose constituents are most likely to be affected by the project.
Here's the section that outlines compensation for North and Northeast Portland.
SECTION 19. The Oregon Transportation Commission shall conduct a study and developrecommendations on establishing a fund that may be used to address any air quality or other public health concerns that may impact the communities along the Interstate 5 corridor from the Fremont Bridge to the Columbia River as a result of the Interstate 5 bridge re- placement project. The commission shall present the study and recommendations to the appropriate interim committees of the Legislative Assembly related to transportation no later than September 15, 2014.