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Joint Wash.-Ore. Columbia River Crossing office to close

Don Ryan, File
Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee called it “a dang shame.” Plans for a new bridge over the Columbia River are shelved, if not dead, after the state Legislature adjourned over the weekend without funding the construction phase of the project.

You might call the Columbia River Crossing “the bridge to the archives.” That’s where the blueprints will go now that the Washington Senate said “no” to a gas tax increase. That nixes $450 million for the new bridge over the mighty Columbia between Vancouver and Portland.

At a news conference, the governor defended his decision earlier this year to veto $81 million in planning money for the new bridge.

“That $81 million would have been totally wasted, because there’s nothing that we could have spent it on that would have actually built a bridge,” he said. “I was not going to pour another $81 million down the mud hole with no benefit.”

Republican critics say the design for the bridge was fatally flawed, and they opposed the decision to include light rail. A joint Washington-Oregon Columbia River Crossing office will now close. That ends nearly nine years and $175 million worth of planning work. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.