A Southwest Washington lawmaker who was determined to kill the Columbia River Crossing project is using the same resolve to revive Interstate 5 Bridge discussions — and not letting a lack of enthusiasm from across the river stop her.
Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, who is hoping to formalize work between Oregon and Washington on a bridge project, recently reached out to Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek in a letter.
Pike received a response from the Portland Democrat this week.
Kotek’s parting line: “A bistate conversation regarding the I-5 corridor will have to wait for another day.”
But first, Kotek took Pike down memory lane.
“In 2013, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation that would have enabled our states to move forward with a replacement to the I-5 Bridge across the Columbia River and upgrade the adjacent intersections on both sides of the river,” Kotek wrote.
Later, Kotek puts it bluntly, “Unfortunately, Washington failed to join Oregon in taking the requisite next steps.”
Kotek reminds Pike of a decade’s worth of squandered efforts.
Pike didn’t let the letter get her down.
“It sounds like she’s not happy about having CRC killed, but that’s rearview mirror stuff,” Pike said.
Pike has joined forces with other lawmakers, including Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, to carve out $100,000 to hire neutral facilitators to work with Oregon and Washington to address the Interstate 5 Bridge. Wylie and the others also signed on to the letter to Kotek and were addressed in the reply.
The Washington measure identifies the William D. Ruckelshaus Center and the Oregon Consensus Center as being possible consultants to help create a work group.
The group would address project design options and consider capacity, safety, sufficiency, public support and cost effectiveness. The group would be required to file a report by Dec. 1, 2016, and each year after until the project is complete. The idea appears to have support in the Washington Legislature.
“It’s a little setback, but I don’t think she’s closing the door,” Pike said of Kotek. “She left the door open. I’m going to continue to build the coalitions I’ve started.”
And at least Kotek responded.
“I’m encouraged,” Pike said. “She wrote back to me.”
Pike was hoping that Oregon would also allocate a matching $100,000 to the effort.
“If she’s not ready today, maybe she’ll be ready tomorrow,” Pike said.