Coast Guard to host Vancouver public meeting on CRC

Agency seeks public comment before it decides whether to permit bridge-replacement project

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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The U.S. Coast Guard will seek public comment about the controversial Columbia River Crossing project Wednesday evening at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, 301 W. Sixth St. in Vancouver.

The Coast Guard is deciding whether to grant the CRC a crucial bridge permit, which the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement needs to move forward. Coast Guard officials are aiming for a Sept. 30 deadline to make the decision.

Wednesday's public meeting will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. and speaker registration begins at 4:30 p.m. The Coast Guard will be in Portland on Tuesday for another public meeting on the same topic.

Public comment guidelines for both meetings are as follows:

  • Comments will follow the order in which speakers registered.
  • Each person's comment is limited to three minutes.
  • Public commenters can't double-dip by speaking at both meetings.
  • Views of any group should be represented by just one spokesperson.

Tuesday's meeting in Portland takes place 5 to 8 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel on the River, 909 N. Hayden Island Drive. Speaker registration for that event also begins at 4:30 p.m.

The CRC filed its initial bridge permit application in January. Later told by the Coast Guard that more information was needed to begin the review process, the project sent additional documents last month.

The bridge permit is only one key hurdle the project needs to clear this year to stay on track. The $3.4 billion CRC hasn’t lined up all the state and local funding it needs, and still faces a fight to get it. Project leaders hope to begin construction in late 2014, a schedule one oversight group has called “highly optimistic.”

This story will be updated.