June 5th, 2013 4:00 pm | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: Transportation, PDX News, Politics, Activism, Environment

Washington Republicans: Columbia River Crossing is Dead


Republicans in the Washington Senate have taken to social media to say state funding for the Columbia River Crossing is dead.

Proponents have said that unless Washington comes up with its $450 million share of the project this year, the CRC loses its spot in line for ample federal spending on the Interstate 5 bridges, interchanges and light rail.

If word out of the majority Senate Republican caucus in Olympia is right, that's exactly what might happen.

"There's no transportation package this year. It's dead," Washington Sen. Ann Rivers (R-LaCenter) tells WW.

But Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, calls the word the transportation package is done "an unfounded rumor."

"I'm not sure where they’ve gotten that, because the governor’s been pretty clear all along that his expectation is that the legislature passes a transportation package that includes the CRC," Smith says.

The $3.5 billion megaproject—pushed here by Gov. John Kitzhaber and Democrats—has already won approval from the Oregon Legislature. 

The news comes less than a day since Inslee's office trumpeted mitigation agreements between the CRC and two of the three companies whose business would be impacted by a 116 foot high bridge.

Yet the word among the Republicans is just the opposite, says Rivers, who says she got the news of the transportation bill's demise this afternoon from Senate Transportation Committee Co-Chairman Curtis King (R-Yakima).

"What the governor's office says, and what everyone else is saying is so diametrically opposed, it’s like, 'Where are you?'" Rivers says. "What land are you living in?"

Rep. Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver), a staunch CRC booster, says he sees little sign any Republicans are going to be peeled away from the majority. Moeller says that no bill is truly dead until everyone goes home: In this case, that may be as soon as the special session ends on Tuesday.

Moeller says that even if Inslee does call the legislature back to push a transportation package, he's not sure it would go anywhere.

"Regardless of what the governor says, I don’t see that happening," he says.

A legislative aide for House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) says Clibborn is still working on the revenue package, but would not comment on its status.


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