Spin Control

Majority of Washington lawmakers back Columbia River bridge

While touring Spokane on Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said his withdrawal of plans to seek $450 million in state money for a controversial span over the Columbia River should eliminate the last roadblock to passing a comprehensive transportation package for the state before year's end.

A majority of Washington lawmakers want Oregon to know that doesn't mean they've turned their backs on the project.

A letter to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber sent Wednesday was signed by 75 Washington legislators, including many members of the Senate Democratic caucus that were denied a vote on the bridge project during the Legislature's regular and two special 2013 sessions.

"I’m disappointed our two states aren’t sharing leadership of this project, as we once were,” said Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver. The project would replace existing spans over the Columbia River that have been in operation for more than half a century and are badly in need of repair to alleviate congestion, according to engineers.

Inslee said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday that Kitzhaber is pondering calling a special session of his own to attain authorization for his state to move forward on the project without Washington's assistance. Inslee said the state attorney general has reviewed that option and there is no legal barrier to Oregon connecting its bridge to Washington roads.

The project recently received the go-ahead from the U.S. Coast Guard. The leader of the Oregon Senate indicated Wednesday plans to push a vote on the project to February, according to the Oregonian.

Click here to read the entire letter sent by Washington lawmakers to Kitzhaber.




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