Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Columbia River Crossing successor sought

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Opposition to a proposed $3.3 billion multimodal bridge linking Oregon and Washington last year killed the controversial Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project, sinking additions to Interstate 5 road capacity and scuttling plans to extend MAX light rail service into Washington State. But both ideas may yet get another chance.

A new regional transportation plan by Clark County, Wash., once again envisions replacing the existing Interstate 5 bridge between Vancouver, Wash., and Portland, Ore. The county's metropolitan transportation organization (MPO), Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, is reviewing a 2035 Regional Transportation Plan which includes another attempt at a bistate bridge, which it may adopt by year's end.

"In the absence of a different alternative, we're saying, 'Hey, there's still a need for improvement and a series of improvements along the I-5 corridor,'" Council Executive Director Matt Ransom told local media. "The plan is not saying that all of those components must be built or are recommended to be built."

That could prove problematic given each state's differing transport emphasis. Though Clark County officials were willing to approve LRT as part of a bridge plan, if reluctantly, Washington's state legislature refused to approve such a plan with LRT included. Oregon state, Portland city, and TriMet officials, in turn, insisted in essence: No LRT, no bridge.

Washington state gave up on the CRC project in 2013 following state legislative action, while Oregon's legislature followed in similar fashion last March.

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