State senator calls for new plan on CRC

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

Published:

Updated: January 31, 2013, 6:08 PM

 
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Sen. King letter

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State Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, on Thursday called for a “new direction” on the Columbia River Crossing in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Among other things, King called for a project that incorporates bus rapid transit instead of light rail. He also said a supplemental environmental impact statement study should replace the Record of Decision granted by the federal government in 2011.

As proposed, the $3.5 billion CRC would replace the Interstate 5 Bridge, extend light rail into Vancouver and rebuild the freeway on both sides of the Columbia River. But less than two years before the planned start of construction, the project faces significant financial and logistical questions.

In his letter, King laid out a five-point plan to support his call for a new study. The project should include sufficient bridge clearance, better traffic flow, no light rail, “fiscally prudent” transit options and enough capacity, he wrote.

Bus rapid transit, an enhanced bus system also floated by C-Tran, could be eligible for the same federal New Starts grant program that the CRC is seeking for a light rail extension.

CRC leaders are urging both the Washington and Oregon legislatures to commit $450 million each to the project this year. Plans call for the rest of the price tag to be covered by federal funding sources and tolling revenue.