Federal budget crunch likely to hurt new I-5 bridge efforts


One casualty of the coming federal budget crunch could be a new $3 billion bridge carrying Interstate 5 across the Columbia River.

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One casualty of the coming federal budget crunch could be a new $3 billion bridge carrying Interstate 5 across the Columbia River.

At best, its sponsors acknowledge, the bridge project is going to take another whack. At worst, the sponsors say, are options they’re not ready to consider, including shelving $130 million worth of plans until the nation’s balance sheet looks better or scaling back the project.

The current I-5 bridge linking Oregon and Washington is considered at risk in an earthquake, and its tie-ups infuriate commuters and truckers.

Proponents of a replacement say the nation can’t afford the delays and risk at a critical transportation link: I-5 from Mexico to Canada is the economic spine of the West Coast, not only moving goods and people but also serving as a magnet for new jobs.

However, hours after the House voted last week for the debt ceiling bill, Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio,  a senior Democrat on the House transportation committee, was angry at Republicans as well as the Democratic president. And he was pessimistic about the chances for the one-third share of the bridge costs the federal government was expected to bear.

Read more in today’s Bend Bulletin.




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