March 3rd, 2009 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Multnomah County, CLEAN UP

UPDATED: Ted Wheeler Asks City Council to Give Up Funds for Sellwood Bridge

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Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler wants the Portland City Council to give up part of its potential state transportation funding to replace the rickety Sellwood Bridge. The money is expected to come if the Legislature passes Gov. Ted Kulongoski's proposed Jobs and Transportation Act.

In a letter [PDF] sent to city commissioners today, Wheeler asks that $8 million which would have been shared between the city and the county go straight into the Sellwood Bridge. Wheeler says that money could then be bonded at $100 million and provide the local match for federal funds.

Wheeler's chief of staff, Tom Rinehart, says the $8 million would come out of a pot that would normally be split 80-20 between the city and county. That means the city is being asked to give up $6.4 million that would otherwise have gone to Portland streets.

Wheeler calls it "the best — and probably only — means of securing a local match for the Sellwood Bridge in the near term." Wheeler adds he's sending county commissioners Jeff Cogen and Deborah Kafoury to Washington, D.C. this month to meet with Oregon's congressional delegation about the federal match.

Wheeler's prior efforts to gain budget concessions from the city haven't gone so well. We'll see if he fares better asking money for a popular project in the midst of a recession.
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