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What went wrong with Columbia River bridge planning?

September 21, 2013 J

The Columbia River Crossing bridge between Portland and Vancouver may have died but the forensic examination of its fatal flaws are continuing.

On Wednesday, Deputy Legislative Auditor John Woolley briefed the bipartisan Joint Legislative and Audit & Review Committee on an audit of the bridge. The “forensic audit” is part of the state’s 2013-2015 operating budget adopted in June; the study is supposed to be available in April 2014.

The Interstate 5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver was a vehemently partisan issue in the last legislative session, and one factor in Republicans and Democrats deadlocking on passing a transportation revenue budget. Democrats wanted to replace the aging bridge — partly built in 1917 and partly built in 1958 — to increase its traffic capacity and to put light rail on it. Republicans opposed the replacement because they don’t want Vancouver-area citizens to pay taxes to support light rail, while also arguing three upriver manufacturers would not be able to barge their goods beneath a lower replacement bridge.

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