Kitzhaber to Oregon lawmakers: new I-5 bridge is vital

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SALEM, Ore. — Gov. John Kitzhaber has told a legislative committee hearing in Salem that Oregon must seize the opportunity to nail down financing to build a new Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver. The $3.4 billion project would replace two spans dating back to 1917 and 1958.

Oregon's governor says that in addition to increasing capacity and improving traffic flow, it's imperative to replace the bridges because of earthquake concerns.

Monday's hearing kicked off legislative consideration of Oregon's contribution to the project. That's estimated to be $450 million in bonds, to be matched by an equal amount from Washington state and supplemented by federal money and projected income from tolls.

Critics question the project's cost, design and the plans for light rail and tolls.