We hate to say we told you so, but... the Columbia River Crossing is a zombridge, officials confirmed to the Portland and Vancouver daily newspapers.
Patricia McCaig, head of intergovernmental relations and government affairs for the project, told The Oregonian yesterday that planners are scrambling to come up with a design by Sept. 30 that would use funding from Oregon and not from Washington state.
Last month, the Washington Senate killed a bill with that state's portion $450 million in local funding for the $3.5 billion Interstate 5 megaproject, months after Oregon's lawmakers passed its share. That same day, governors John Kitzhaber and Jay Inslee declared the CRC dead.
But as WW reported on July 17, the project is still applying for every permit it has outstanding, and CRC officials confirmed that it was "too soon to preclude anything from happening." (Also, on Monday, WW noted that the CRC's website no longer says it is shutting down).
Now, officials are saying they'll just try and use Oregon's money to get the thing done.
"One approach would involve Oregon highway improvements and a bridge connected to Washington (State Route) 14 by an upgraded interchange," Oregonian reporter Richard Read writes. "Oregon could issue $1.3 billion in bonds, with no contribution from Washington, and receive all income from bridge tolls."
Washington supporters gave The Columbian the same story.
But The Oregonian does not mention how backers plan to overcome the much-ballyhooed "stipulations" the Oregon Legislature put on its half of the funding bill, including a caveat that Oregon won't pay its half unless Washington does the same.
Columbian reporter Eric Florip says Kitzhaber may have to reconvene legislators to rewrite the funding bill.
McCaig, who is under a state ethics investigation for her role in the CRC, told Read that "it would be 'almost irresponsible,' given all the work and money spent to date, including $170 million spent for planning alone, not to try salvaging the project."
(We can hear it now, echoing across the Columbia River: TRAAAAAINNNNSSSSS.)