Proponents of the $2.8 billion Columbia River Crossing project have shown their hands.
Prior to the current 35-day legislative session, Gov. John Kitzhaber laid down conditions for his continued support for the project.
"Oregon must either decisively move the project to construction or refocus and reprioritize our resources. A project in limbo is the worst and most expensive outcome for Oregon, and continuing expenditures to sustain work without progress is a waste of money and resources," Kitzhaber wrote to legislative leaders on Jan. 27.
I have notified Governor Inslee, our federal and local partners, Oregon Transportation Commissioners and ODOT Director Garrett that without the appropriate action from the Oregon Legislature by March 9, 2014, and the appropriate action from the state of Washington by March 15, 2014, ODOT will close the project and begin archiving materials."
But legislation designed to move an Oregon-only project forward stalled and appeared to be dead last week when state Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) declared
he would not vote for the current bill.
So the CRC is finished, right?
Of course not.
A proposed amendment to a tangentially-related bill would once again extend the project's time on life support. The amendments would resurrect House Bill 2800, which lawmakers passed in 2013. That bill provided $450 million in funding for the CRC—provided Washington matched that amount. But Washington lawmakers did not match Oregon's contribution
and HB 2800's funding authority expired on Sept. 30, 2013.
The newly proposed amendment (found here
in Section 11) will be heard today in the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development today at 3 pm.
The amendment would extend the date of the 2013 legislation from Sept. 30, 2013 to March 15, 2014—which doesn't give proponents a whole lot of time.