Kitzhaber Removal of light rail will kill CRC project

first_img Oregon officials won’t support a Columbia River Crossing alternative that excludes light rail, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s spokesman said Wednesday, adding that removing light rail will kill the project. “Any analysis that claims there is a quick, easy or advisable way to remove light rail from the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project is fundamentally flawed,” the governor’s spokesman, Tim Raphael, said by email. “We’d be starting over on federal funding and permitting. Without light rail, there is no project.”The governor’s statement comes as the Washington Legislature nears the close of the 2013 session and has yet to approve Washington state’s $450 million share for a new bridge across the Columbia River. The session ends Sunday, but it appears likely that Washington lawmakers will require a special session to finish budget negotiations. Many critics of the $3.4 billion project say they don’t want to completely sink the CRC, but rather replace the light rail part of the plan with a different form of transit, such as express buses. They say removing light rail will reduce the overall cost of the project and therefore reduce the amount of tolls drivers will pay toward the new bridge. But Kitzhaber doesn’t see light rail as a simple “add-on” to the proposed bridge, Raphael said. Light rail “is a critical part of an integrated, multimodal, bistate solution that improves safety, manages traffic, protects air quality and supports the region’s economy,” Raphael said. “Governor Kitzhaber has been clear from the start: No light rail. No project. No kidding.” Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaberlast_img read more