TriMet says bonding bill will not fund Columbia River Crossing

TriMet could use bond and grant funds on non-transit projects if Senate Bill 1510 passes. TriMet reassures critics that the funds will not go toward Columbia River Crossing.

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“What the bill does is greatly expand TriMet’s bonding authority, authorizing it to accept IOUs from other agencies and then use that authority to build freeways, if they choose,” [Portland economist Joe Cortright] said. “My concern is that this could be a stealth funding plan for the Columbia River Crossing.”

For its part, TriMet says it has no interest in taking on the Columbia River Crossing project, nor would it have the authority without participation from other agencies. General Manager Neil McFarlane wrote a letter to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means directly addressing the issue.

“The bill and the CRC simply have nothing to do with each other,” he said.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

Bernie Bottomly, executive director of public policy at TriMet, told The Columbian that “the measure is about improving Oregon Highway 217.”

“We don’t have any plans to operate in Clark County,” said  [Bottomly]. “We’re not in conversations about operating there. Nothing in this bill is necessary or intended to advance that conversation.”

…”TriMet has a tool, which is an ability to bond future federal dollars,” he said. “We would like to make that tool available to transportation projects in the region, whether or not TriMet is operating in them.”

(READ MORE: The Columbian)

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