At the Nov. 1 meeting of 16 Oregon and Washington legislators, Interstate Bridge Replacement Program staff shared they have identified $2.5 billion in federal money for the project. Simple math shows tolling dollars are not needed to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.
Washington state has allocated $1.1 billion for the project. The program assumes Oregon will provide $1 billion, bringing “local” funds to $2.1 billion. When added to the $2.5 billion of identified federal dollars, that creates a $4.6 billion pool of funds.
Two years ago, IBR staff briefed legislators that the cost of the program would run between $3.2 billion and $4.8 billion. We would therefore be within $200 million of the “high” cost estimate, without any tolling dollars.
Both estimates included light rail as a transit option. TriMet has told the IBR that they want $1.3 billion for a three-mile MAX extension, or $430 million per mile. They also refuse to cover the operating costs of light rail in Vancouver. They demand “new taxes” from both Oregon and Washington to pay for light rail’s undisclosed operating costs.
Eliminate light rail and save $1.3 billion and new taxes. Use C-Tran bus rapid transit instead. No tolls and no new taxes are needed.