The city council's state legislative wish list is notably agnostic on whether the Columbia River Crossing—the multibillion-dollar Interstate 5 bridge and highway expansion project—should be pulled from limbo, or not, during next month's legislative session.
But at a hearing today on the city's federal and state legislative agendas, Mayor Charlie Hales made his personal stance crystal clear: He wants lawmakers to do something anything—even if that means killing it dead. Waiting until next year's full legislative session, he says, will complicate questions about how to fund millions' worth of other transportation project that might be just as vital to the region.
"Whether you love the project or hate it," Hales said, "this is a good time to decide. I want to encourage them as colleagues and friends to call the question and answer it. Please."
Hales was reacting to a back and forth in Salem over the project. Governor John Kitzhaber this week issued an exhortation to legislative leaders this week that they approve an Oregon-only version of the bridge-and-highway project by March. Senate President Peter Courtney answered the governor by telling him to start things back up with Washington State.
For Commissioner Steve Novick, though, those comments wound up bringing to mind a particular scene from The Princess Bride. In that scene, Billy Crystal explains the difference between something being "mostly dead" (revive it!) or "all dead" (loot it!).
"It does strike me that if the CRC is all dead," Novick said, "then we should go through its pockets for loose change."