There’s still no consensus for replacing the antiquated and frequently choked Interstate 5 Bridge. But the Washington Legislature has advanced a bill that could accelerate the process for replacing the bridge once a consensus is reached.
On Friday, SB 6195 passed out of the chamber on a 41-6 vote. The bill would direct the Washington State Department of Transportation to develop an application to designate transportation projects as being of statewide significance.
After a project has this designation, the department would assemble a team drawn from state and local government, as well as private officials, to help meet its planning and permitting needs. The department and the team would help expedite the project and coordinate communications with other states, if needed.
Last year, the Legislature passed a bill seeking to jump-start the process for replacing the bridge after Washington backed away from the Columbia River Crossing project in 2013. So far, Oregon officials have shown little interest in restarting the process.
A press release issued after the bill was passed states that the bill would provide a tool to speed up infrastructure projects while also signaling to Oregon officials that Washington is committed to working on transportation issues.
“While we continue to promote the development of a bridge plan, we are also taking pains to make the process move more quickly once that plan is finalized,” Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, said in a statement. “This legislation has the support of the full seven-member coalition of Southwest Washington legislators who have been working together to move our state forward on this essential project.”