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U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer Urges Gov. Kate Brown Not to Veto Capitol Highway Project

The $2 million fix has been on city drawing board since Blumenauer served on City Council in the 1990s.

Gov. Kate Brown is getting some high-level pressure on her proposed line-item veto of a $2 million appropriation for a project on Capitol Highway in Southwest Portland.

On Tuesday, Brown explained she planned to nix the expenditure because it had gotten different consideration from other transportation projects.

"The SW Capitol Highway project is not included in the package that was negotiated in a bipartisan and careful manner," Brown said in an Aug. 8 notice of intent to veto that appropriation and other bills. "It should receive the same vetting process as other transportation projects and be evaluated on its own merits in future legislative sessions."

Bike Portland reported that Brown's veto upset neighborhood activists who had long worked to make the project happen.

And now a powerful voice long associated with the proposed Capitol Highway project is weighing in.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer left the Portland city Council in 1995, but the project, first proposed when he served as the city's transportation commissioner, remains close to his heart.

Here's the letter he sent to Brown.

Blumenauer, now in his 11th term representing Oregon's third congressional district, is one of Congress' leading transportation-funding advocates, and his position on the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee points to his influence in Washington.

For her part, Brown, who is up for re-election next year, spent a lot of political capital pushing through a $5.3 billion transportation funding package in the recently completed legislative session.

Getting that bill passed required saying "no" to dozens of lawmakers' pet projects around the state, and so it will be difficult for her now to rescind her proposed veto. Brown has until Monday, under the Oregon constitution, to finalize the proposed vetoes she announced Aug. 8. Her spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Blumenauer's letter.

Updated at 5:20 pm on Aug. 11: Bike Portland has posted a strongly-worded letter from Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin), the co-chair of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee imploring Brown not to rethink her proposed veto.