Herrera Beutler reiterates CRC concerns to Coast Guard

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Herrera Beutler letter to U.S. Coast Guard

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Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, on Thursday reiterated concerns with the review process that ultimately led to a bridge permit for the Columbia River Crossing project.

In a letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp Jr., Herrera Beutler suggested that the decision to green-light the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement may have been “improperly influenced.” She requested all internal and external Coast Guard communications related to the CRC during the past year, and asked for an explanation of the agency’s stated benchmark that a project meet the “reasonable needs of navigation.”

The $2.7 billion CRC, designed with a height of 116 feet, doesn’t provide enough clearance to accommodate all existing traffic on the Columbia River. As a result, project leaders negotiated mitigation deals totaling $86.4 million with three upriver manufacturers earlier this year.

Herrera Beutler had raised a series of questions and asked the Coast Guard for its CRC communications on Sept. 13. The agency sent a response letter two weeks later — the same day it approved the CRC permit. But Herrera Beutler said the Coast Guard did not provide all of the communications she had asked for.

"Project sponsors are pushing this project forward with great urgency, so your timely cooperation with my September 13 request is critical," Herrera Beutler wrote.