Governor OKs Columbia bridge tolling plan

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Tolling on the stretch of Interstate 5 connecting Washington state to Oregon is a big step closer to reality.

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday signed into law a measure authorizing tolling at the Columbia River Crossing. Toll money would go toward paying for a major overhaul of the span, including replacement of both the north- and south-bound bridges connecting Portland and Vancouver and an expansion of light rail to downtown Vancouver.

The project is expected to cost more than $3 billion. Proponents say tolling is key to its funding and to getting the federal government to chip in.

The measure was sponsored by Craig Pridemore in the Senate and Jim Moeller in the House, both Democrats from Vancouver.