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Oregon legislative panel backs Columbia bridge plan

The House Transportation and Economic Development Committee voted along party lines Thursday to advance the measure to the Legislature's budget committee.

The Associated Press

2/14/2014

SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon legislative committee is keeping alive a plan to build a new Interstate 5 and light-rail bridge over the Columbia River without money from Washington state.

The House Transportation and Economic Development Committee voted along party lines Thursday to advance the measure to the Legislature's budget committee.

Democrats say it's badly needed to relieve congestion on Interstate 5 and improve freight movement across the Northwest. Oregon lawmakers approved it last year, but their counterparts in Washington did not.

Critics worry that a funding plan that excludes Washington would expose Oregon taxpayers to too much risk.

The $2.8 billion project would get about a third of its funding from the federal government, with much of the rest coming from tolls. Oregon would take on about $450 million in debt.

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