October 24th, 2013 | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: PDX News, Transportation, Politics

Congresswoman Accuses Coast Guard of Stonewalling Information Requests on the Columbia River Crossing

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U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) says that the U.S. Coast Guard is ignoring her requests for emails and communications regarding the Columbia River Crossing—and she's worried they're hiding something.

Herrera Beutler, a sophomore Republican from Camas, says she asked more than a month ago for all internal and external communications regarding the $2.7 billion project.

She asked the Coast Guard on Sept. 13 for the communications, knowing the agency was expected to reach a critical decision on permitting the 116-foot-high Interstate 5 bridge project by Sept. 30. 

Instead, she got only external letters—no emails, and no internal communications—on Sept. 27. That's the day the Coast Guard issued the CRC a permit—and, she adds, her office was given those letters at the close of business day.

Herrera Beutler says she's gotten nothing since. She wrote a letter today asking the Coast Guard to hand over its files.

"After waiting for more than a month my office has not received any of the internal communications requested," she writes. "Project sponsors are pushing this project forward with great urgency, so your timely cooperation with my September 13 request is critical."

She also says the Coast Guard has also not given her a good explanation of how the CRC wouldn't block future river use, seeing as the project is already paying three companies whose work won't fit underneath the new, lower bridge.

The Congresswoman says she expects the Coast Guard to step up and provide transparency.

"There are serious concerns both throughout the region and here in Congress that the Coast Guard was improperly influenced to deviate from standard procedures to issue this permit—for a bridge that is too low and has not completed an environmental impact study that reflects the current design," she writes.

 
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