New I-5 bridge takes center stage at first 2013 work session
COURTESY COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING PROJECT
The Columbia River Crossing would replace the Interstate Bridge connecting Portland and downtown Vancouver.
Less than 20 minutes in to Tuesday morning's work session, new Metro Councilor Bob Stacey was following up on a memo he sent to the council recommending specifics the regional government should advocate for on the replacement Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River.
Stacey's concerns were mostly based on what may happen in Olympia, as the Washington Legislature considers how to fund its share of freeway construction on Interstate 5 in Vancouver. They came as part of a Metro Council discussion on lobbying priorities for the 2013 Legislature.
He also expressed concerns with drivers using the Glenn Jackson Bridge, six miles east of the Columbia River Crossing, to avoid tolls on Interstate 5.
"Washington's got to agree to some trigger event that will start the study of tolling," Stacey said. "I think we ought to be encouraging our legislators to expect more from Washington State on these issues."
Incumbent Metro councilors Carlotta Collette and Kathryn Harrington seemed reluctant to put the Portland region in the middle of negotiations between the states on funding the Columbia River Crossing, which is projected to cost $3.5 billion.
"These are concerns we've had all through the course of the project. I don't want to see us come up with wording that points to a very narrow or specific solution," Harrington said. "The Legislature is mindful already of these concerns and they are trying to navigate through a lot of different land mines along the way to get to an I-5 bridge replacement."
Collette, the chair of the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, said the key was to encourage the Legislature to protect Oregon interests.
"It's fine for Metro to be saying in Salem, 'This would be a smart approach,' and to be mindful and careful about letting Washington end up with a better deal than we end up with – or to make sure that Oregon doesn't get stuck holding the bag," Collette said.
The council settled on language that encourages the Legislature to ensure funding equity for the project.
"It probably would be inappropriate for us to be too specific," said Metro Councilor Craig Dirksen. "To imply that we would expect some sort of equity in the funding package, I think that's perfectly reasonable."
Alex Zielinski contributed to this report.
Note: An earlier version of this story had an inaccurate cost estimate for the Interstate 5 bridge. The bridge itself is projected to be about $900 million of the $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing price tag. This version has been corrected.
Kitzhaber meets with Hughes, Burkholder to talk Columbia River Crossing (Dec. 7, 2012)
Sticker shock? (Aug. 9, 2011)
More than cost at play in Columbia River Crossing design (Feb. 14, 2011)