There’s been much Monday-morning quarterbacking on the Columbia River Crossing, so here’s a little more. I tried to keep informed, but as one who helped pay for the second Interstate 5 span and who thinks the spans should be replaced sooner rather than later, I gradually became disillusioned by the process.
The first costs floated out by the committees were $3.2 billion to $3.7 billion, a mere $500 million spread. Later, costs seemed to settle around $3.5 billion. Having viewed cost overruns of the past, I was skeptical.
Then the financing seeped out. $850 million federal, $450 million each from Washington and Oregon.
That would leave about $2 billion in user fees. About these, I heard very little. Would they be $4, $5, $6 per trip? Would they be applied both ways? Would they be 24 hours per day or just commuter hours? For how many years? Questions, questions.
The whole process seemed similar to our country’s precarious financial deep hole — just buy what we want without a clear way to pay for it.
The feds should stay out of local transportation issues. Sure, the bridge is part of the Interstate system, but light rail would be local commuting. If the locals want it, the locals should pay for it.
The feds are borrowing about 40 percent of what they spend. Hence, the disillusionment.