OUR VIEW: I-5 bridge a risky proposition
The ongoing debate — some could argue dispute — regarding the proposal to build a new Interstate 5/light rail bridge over the Columbia River continues to linger in the Oregon Legislature.
The issue appears at first glance to be simply a “their side of the state” problem, but the fact is the entire state pays taxes and it is those dollars that will fuel a project like the new bridge.
The idea of a new span across the Columbia carries a great deal of merit — it could greatly enhance commerce between Oregon and Washington state — but there is a rather large problem with the concept. Washington State lawmakers don’t want to pay a share of construction of a new span.
Last year, Oregon lawmakers appeared more than willing to embrace the concept, but legislators in Washington state balked in the end at the venture.
Last week, the Oregon House Transportation and Economic Development Committee OK’d a proposal to push the Legislature budget committee.
That means the nearly $3 billion dollar project is alive and well and it may also mean that if construction goes forward Oregon — and the federal government — would pay for it.
The subject is a complicated one — as are most issues that end up in the Legislature — but the commonsense solution to the problem isn’t convoluted.
Put simply, unless Washington state can step forward and help pay for the bridge, Oregon lawmakers should abandon the concept.
Without Washington state’s help, Oregon taxpayers will be pushed out on a shaky limb of
Until lawmakers in Washington state feel they can lend a hand in terms of funds, this is one of those ideas that the Oregon Legislature needs to shelve.