The Columbia River Crossing house of cards has added another level. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill authorizing $450 million in bonds for the CRC … with several big “ifs.”
“If” the Washington state Legislature authorizes $450 million, a big “maybe” with the current makeup of the Washington state Senate.
“If” the U.S. Coast Guard issues a permit, a bigger “maybe” should the current 116-foot bridge height be kept.
“If” the federal government puts up more than $1 billion, the biggest “maybe.” The “lion’s share” of a federal government’s contribution is based on $850 million for light rail. Light rail must have a local sponsor, which means C-Tran. C-Tran must pay for operation and maintenance of the light-rail line. Voters have already rejected increasing sales tax to fund operation and maintenance of light rail. The three Clark County commissioners, as members of the C-Tran board, have veto power over any other funding scheme.
If we are to see a new bridge at I-5 over the Columbia River, it is time for a new bridge plan. This action in Salem, unfortunately, just continues the Kabuki theater.
Jon T. Haugen