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Key Republican bails on CRC

An important Republican state lawmaker who has supported the Columbia River Crossing came out against the Oregon-led version of the controversial project Thursday.

State Sen. Bruce Starr (R-hillsboro), who supported the project during the 2013 Oregon Legislature, is now against the plan being considered by the current session.

Starr's reversal is especially important because senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) is against the $2.8 billion project in the closely divided — 16 Democrats to 14 Republicans — chamber.

Here is Starr's statement:

"Based on the Washington legislature's demonstrated unwillingness to engage in a bi-state process, as seen by the Washington Senate's recent passage of Senate Bill 6125, it is clear that the co-operation we need to build this bridge is not going to materialize. Because of that, I will not be supporting House Bill 4113A if it comes to the floor.

"I still support the goal of building a new bridge across the Columbia River. I voted in favor of last year's proposal because I believe it is critical to Oregon's economy and long-term future, and because it was centered on a partnership with Washington. Last year the Oregon legislature did its part to fund and complete this project. Unfortunately, Washington's end of the partnership never materialized.

"The only option going forward is if the Washington legislature were to change course and fund the project as envisioned under House Bill 2800A.

"The relationship between the Oregon and Washington legislatures is of vital importance, not just in the case of the new bridge, but many others. As president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, I believe it is of the highest importance for legislatures to work together with respect and cooperation toward shared goals."