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Sources Say: Plans rerouted after CRC fails

When the 2013 Washington Legislature killed the Columbia River Crossing, project opponents said it was time to consider alternative proposals. Ideas floated so far include a stand-alone transit bridge between Portland and Vancouver and a new crossing from Camas to Oregon.

But none of them is likely to go anywhere, or even receive serious consideration in the near future.

In his statement after the Republican-controlled Washington Senate refused to fund the project, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber made it clear he was not willing to partner with Washington on a future project at this time. Instead, Kitzhaber said he instructed the Oregon Department of Transportation to only study projects on the Oregon side of the border to reduce congestion and improve safety in the area of the Interstate 5 bridge.

“Without bi-state funding, I have asked ODOT to review all of the work on the Oregon side of the project to determine if any stand-alone investments could be made to improve safety and reduce congestion on a smaller scale. That work will be subject for further legislative review,” Kitzhaber said.

Strangely, the Oregon Republican Party called the death of the CRC a “Conservative Victory” in a July 9 press release, even though most Republicans in the Oregon Legislature supported it.

Kotek wins some, loses some

Presiding officers in legislative bodies are supposed to be powerful figures. But state Rep. Tina Kotek, who represents portions North and Northeast Portland, had a bumpy first session as speaker of the House.

Kotek boldly predicted in April that she had the votes to pass a bill to raise $275 million by increasing taxes on corporations and higher-income residents. But the bill was defeated when Kotek couldn’t round up the two Republican votes needed to reach the required three-fifth’s majority.

Then, in the waning hours of the 2013 session, the state Senate defeated one of her top priorities. House Bill 2639, which would have prevented landlords from turning down renters solely because they received federal Section 8 housing vouchers, died on a 15-15 vote. Kotek had to go to work to turn the vote around when the bill was reconsidered. It then passed on a 16-13 vote.

Wheeling, dealing convention checks in

Metro President Tom Hughes was known as a successful deal maker when he was mayor of Hillsboro. Now Hughes has a chance to see if he can do the same in his current job. The 2013 Legislature approved $10 million in state lottery funds for the headquarters hotel project Hughes is pursuing for the Oregon Convention Center. It should go a long way toward closing the funding gap in the $180 million project.

But, despite winning approval of the Legislature, Hughes still has to convince the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission to get on board. Portland has tentatively offered $4 million for the project and both of them need to amend an existing Intergovernmental Agreement about hotel, motel and motor vehicle rental taxes for the financing to come together.