Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 24th, 2011 at 4:17 pm
"The BTA is concerned about the cost of the CRC... Though this bill does not have a fiscal statement the bridge itself puts the State of Oregon on the hook for at least $400 million dollars."
— Gerik Kransky, BTA
Oregon lawmakers will weigh in on the controversial Columbia River Crossing project this Monday when House Joint Memorial 22 (text) gets a public hearing and possible vote in the House Transportation and Economic Development Committee.
HJM 22 is a pro-CRC statement that, "urges the federal government" to fund the project. If passed, it would send a strong message that Oregon is behind the project and a copy of the statement would go to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House John Boehner, every member of the Oregon Congressional Delegation and to US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.
Here's an excerpt from the text of HJM 22:
... Whereas the Columbia River Crossing Project is a long-term, comprehensive solution to address major issues concerning public safety, quality of life and economic vitality along five miles of Interstate 5 between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, issues that have significance for the region and for the State of
Whereas the Columbia River Crossing Project, a project of national significance that will expand the capacity of the
Interstate 5 bridges between Oregon and Washington, is a crucial transportation project; and...
Whereas the Project Sponsors Council in August 2010 unanimously recommended to the Governors of Oregon and Washington to move ahead with the development and construction of a new 10-lane multimodal Interstate 5 bridge that will include light rail, improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities and improvements to seven interchanges in the five-mile impact area...
The text doesn't include any estimate on the project's total cost, which project staff say could be $3.8 billion, but others estimate it could be as much as $10 billion. Oregon's share of the cost is estimated at $400 million. Recent reports have shown that Oregon and Washington have already spent over $120 million on planning costs thus far. (For more on the cost and other questions about the project, watch citizen activist Spencer Boomhower's latest video.)
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) says they are concerned about the bill. Reached by email today, BTA Advocacy Manager Gerik Kransky said,
"The BTA is concerned about the cost of the CRC and the inadequate design of the current proposal [read more about BTA's position in their March 7th letter to Governor Kitzhaber (PDF)]. Though this bill does not have a fiscal statement the bridge itself puts the State of Oregon on the hook for at least $400 million dollars."
Sponsors of HJM 22 include Representatives Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Terry Beyer (D-Springfield) and Senators Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) and Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point).
If HJM 22 passes, it could give CRC proponents a major vote of confidence and it would position the project much more favorably for essential federal funding.
The hearing is scheduled for this Monday (3/28) at 1:00 pm in Hearing Room D. Learn more about HJM 22 here.