An effort to build a political bridge of sorts crumbled in the Washington Senate on Wednesday, just like the Columbia River Crossing project before it.
Reps. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, gained enough support in the House for a measure to renew work between Oregon and Washington lawmakers to address the Interstate 5 Bridge. But it fizzled Wednesday due to a lack of Senate support.
“When it left this chamber and headed across the rotunda, things went sideways,” Pike said on the House floor Wednesday.
The measure Pike was pushing was more noteworthy in what it symbolized — Southwest Washington lawmakers finding common ground on one of the region’s most contentious issues — than what it actually accomplished.
And Pike, an outspoken critic of the Columbia River Crossing, is not letting the measure’s demise stop her.
“This was a symbolic effort to say we want to open lines of communications and start anew,” Pike said. “The crown jewel of the amendment is: We’re committed to sit down at a table, eyeball to eyeball with Oregon legislators. On that, my position is unchanged. I’m still motivated.”
The amendment passed in the House during the regular legislative session. It allocated $100,000 to hire neutral facilitators to help formalize work related to the Interstate 5 Bridge by a group of both Oregon and Washington lawmakers.
The House on Wednesday approved a transportation package to fund the Washington State Patrol and ensure ferries could keep running but stripped the $100,000 measure that was included for the bistate bridge group. Lawmakers are in the midst of a special legislative session scheduled to end today. Pike said a lack of support in the Senate prevented the measure from passing the House this time, effectively killing it for the session.
She declined to speculate on which lawmakers were key in killing the bill. But Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, said it was simply “too toxic” of a measure in the Senate.
Pike said her efforts will continue.
“Yeah, there’s some heartburn and bridge fatigue, but not one person says, ‘We don’t need a new bridge.’ … We have elected people to lead, and until I hear that, I’m going to keep going,” Pike said.