Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is stepping up the pressure on state lawmakers to make funding a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River a top priority. The Democrat made his case for a new span between Portland and Vancouver at a gathering of business leaders Monday.
The new bridge would replace a pair of frequently congested spans that supporters of the project say have long outlived their usefulness. Construction costs are expected to top $3.5 billion, and critics have blasted the bridge as a boondoggle. But state officials and members of Congress from Washington and Oregon say replacing the structures will be key to maintaining a healthy infrastructure in the Northwest.
Gov. Kitzhaber says he wants Oregon lawmakers to approve $450 million in bonds when they return to Salem next month.
"After a decade of planning, after a year of legislative review, it's time to get this project off the ground."
Lawmakers in Olympia will likely also consider a bridge construction package in their next session. The state portion of the project would likely be funded by a combination of tolls, gas taxes or higher vehicle registration fees.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network
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