November 14th, 2013 | Andrea Damewood News | Posted In: Transportation, Politics, PDX News, Cops and Courts

Columbia River Crossing Pushes Back Construction Date

news1_crcbridge_3817ILLUSTRATIONS: nickstokesdesign.com

The Columbia River Crossing is heading toward another year's worth of construction delays, with court documents showing major work now will likely start in 2015—if the project gets legislative approval.

The delay follows a long-time trend for the megaproject, which has always seemed to be two years away from construction. In 2008, plans for construction were set for 2010, and by 2010, word was construction would start in 2012. That year, planners said the CRC would break ground in in 2014.

The timeline—or lack thereof—turned up in documents filed Nov. 7 in U.S. District Court by state of Oregon attorneys on behalf of the Oregon Department Transportation.

The filings are part of a suit brought by the Coalition for a Livable Future and other groups opposed to the CRC over environmental concerns.

District Court Magistrate Judge Paul Papak directed ODOT last month to provide an updated project construction schedule and report from outside project management consultants.

In it's response, the state says it has neither, and argues that it can't provide a construction timeline because it can't say what's going on with the $2.8 billion plans for Oregon to replace the Interstate 5 bridges, bring light rail to Vancouver, Wash., and expand interchanges in both states.

"For example, if a funding decision is deferred until the February 2014 regular legislative session, ODOT anticipates that this will delay its in-water work for the 2015 construction year and would likely cause delays in the present projected date of delivery on the bridge span," the state's response says.

The argument also contradicts what the state told the court before. It argued in September that the project didn't need legislators to hand over money for quite some time—it had $60 million to keep planning right up to the point of groundbreaking.

That reasoning, reported by WW, irked some lawmakers, who felt Gov. John Kitzhaber was going around their legislative authority.

 
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