State Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, is seeking to fund a look at a third bridge over the Columbia River with a bill she has introduced this legislative session.
House Bill 1835 would provide $300,000 for the Washington State Legislature Joint Transportation Committee to hire a consultant to look at options for an additional crossing to the west of Interstate 5, according to a statement from House Republicans. Kraft’s bill would have a report due by the end of the year featuring high-level conceptual designs and cost estimates for each.
Kraft, who was elected for a second term in November, reasoned that new access over the Columbia River was a preferred option to what many other Southwest Washington lawmakers were looking at — replacement of the aging Interstate 5 bridge. In the statement, she said that bottlenecks on the Oregon side would prevent any real congestion relief from such a replacement.
“You could spend millions to expand lanes on an I-5 bridge replacement, but the traffic is still going to back up on them because of the bottleneck in Oregon. After all that taxpayer money is spent, the outcome is the same — bumper-to-bumper traffic,” Kraft said. “We need to have a much more effective plan that helps commuters to get to and from work more quickly, and keeps our freight moving to facilitate statewide commerce for our farmers, manufacturers and distributors.”
Kraft has opposed a push for mass transit including light rail on any Interstate 5 replacement, something that has been accepted by other local lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee at varying levels. Inslee has said light rail is a must in order for Oregon to pay their share.
“The voters of Clark County have opposed mass transit on the ballot as recently as 2013. Elected officials must listen to and respond in accordance with the voters’ wishes,” Kraft wrote in a letter to Inslee in December.
Kraft’s bill has been referred to the House Transportation Committee. A hearing for it had not been scheduled as of press deadline.