Herrera Beutler seeks CRC info

Letter sent to Coast Guard, which is processing permit

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Herrera Beutler's letter to Papp

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U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, told the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday that she has concerns with an Oregon-led Columbia River Crossing plan.

In a letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp Jr., Herrera Beutler asked at least a dozen technical questions about the Coast Guard's permitting process for the CRC, and whether anything changes now that CRC supporters are taking a new approach to attempting to move forward with the once-dead project.

Herrera Beutler also asked that the Coast Guard give her all written communication the agency has sent about the CRC in the past six months .

"I believe we need to update and upgrade the (Interstate) 5 traffic corridor, but I also live in the real world and I take my role as steward of taxpayer dollars seriously," Herrera Beutler wrote.

Among her questions, Herrera Beutler asked Papp whether the CRC's permit application is still valid now that Washington legislators have declined to commit critical dollars to the project. She also asked if the Oregon Department of Transportation has the authority to advance a construction project that extends into Washington.

The $3.4 billion CRC project was declared dead after conservative Washington senators declined to commit the state's $450 million share; Oregon legislators had said they would commit their share only if Washington did.

Since then, a new version of the CRC has emerged as a pared-down $2.7 billion effort with Oregon solely at the helm. It would still replace the I-5 Bridge and bring Portland's light rail to Vancouver, but it wouldn't update any Washington freeway interchanges north of state Highway 14.

In January, CRC planners submitted a permit application to the Coast Guard, which now must decide whether the proposed bridge allows for sufficient river navigation. Coast Guard officials are aiming to make the decision by Sept. 30.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523; http://facebook.com/reportermathieu;http://twitter.com/col_politics;stevie.mathieu@columbian.com.