Oregon legislature to discuss Columbia River Crossing today

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A state legislative committee scheduled a Monday afternoon hearing to take testimony on a bill declaring that it's in Oregon's interest to build a new Interstate 5 Columbia River bridge between Portland and Vancouver.

Gov. John Kitzhaber and legislative leaders support the Columbia River Crossing for economic reasons.

Critics, including those from Vancouver, question the cost of the $3.5 billion project and plans for light rail and tolls. They are expected to testify at the hearing.

The hearing takes place 3 p.m. before the Legislature's joint I-5 Bridge Replacement Project Committee, which will meet in Hearing Room F. House Bill 2800 would allow Oregon to pay its share of the project, which is estimated at $450 million.

Live streaming audio of Oregon Legislature meetings can be found at this link once the hearing begins. Once on that Web page, click the "Live Audio Today" link.

The meeting could last as late as 9 p.m., according to the agenda.

As proposed, the $3.5 billion CRC project would replace the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River, rebuild freeway interchanges and extend a light rail line from Portland into Vancouver.

The CRC plans call for Washington and Oregon to chip in $450 million each. Project leaders hope both states’ legislatures commit to at least some of that money this year.