The Oregon House of Representatives has given a big thumbs-up to the Columbia River Crossing bridge, the proposed and intensely controversial new Interstate 5 bridge connecting Oregon to Washington.
Earlier today, lawmakers voted 45-11 to approve HB 2800, a bill that would allow the sale of $450 million in bonds (to be matched by the state of Washington) for the CRC. The highway project is meant to replace two very old I-5 bridges that, yes, won’t hold up in a major earthquake and really need to be replaced. But $450 million is only a fraction of the $3.4 billion the project is expected to need, and approving state funding probably won’t be the end of this story.
If you’ve followed the winding and sometimes dramatic tale of the CRC, you know the project has been plagued with many problems—including fights over how to fund the damn thing, over light rail, over how many lanes the bridge should have, whether the initial design was too ostentatious, and, my personal favorite, the possibility that the current design (which looks like it was rendered by a humorless Soviet), is not actually tall enough for commercial ships to pass under.
Which is perhaps why a statement put out by the Office of the House Speaker announcing the passage of HB 2800, doesn’t once mention the CRC by name. Instead it touts the bill, and the bridge it enables, as a way to “spur job growth.” Like consultants maybe?
The bill is expected to go to the Senate as soon as early next month.