The chances of the Oregon Legislature passing a Columbia River Crossing bill have taken a major hit. State Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) announced in a statement this afternoon that he will not vote for pending CRC legislation if it comes to the floor during this February's session.
Starr, who has focused on transportation issues his entire legislative career, has been a major proponent of the project. But without funding and participation from the state of Washington, which dropped out of what had been a bi-state partnership last July, Oregon has struggled to find political support for a $2.8 billion, Oregon-only deal.
Here's Starr's statement.
"Based on the Washington legislature's demonstrated unwillingness to engage in a bi-state process, as seen by the Washington Senate's recent passage of Senate Bill 6125, it is clear that the co-operation we need to build this bridge is not going to materialize. Because of that, I will not be supporting House Bill 4113A if it comes to the floor.
"I still support the goal of building a new bridge across the Columbia River. I voted in favor of last year's proposal because I believe it is critical to Oregon's economy and long-term future, and because it was centered on a partnership with Washington. Last year the Oregon legislature did its part to fund and complete this project. Unfortunately, Washington's end of the partnership never materialized.
"The only option going forward is if the Washington legislature were to change course and fund the project as envisioned under House Bill 2800A.
"The relationship between the Oregon and Washington legislatures is of vital importance, not just in the case of the new bridge, but many others. As president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, I believe it is of the highest importance for legislatures to work together with respect and cooperation toward shared goals."