CRC heavy hitters make their case in Olympia

If you follow the Columbia River Crossing project, you would have recognized several familiar faces in Olympia on Thursday during a Senate Transportation Committee work session on the $3.5 billion megaproject.

Former state Sen. Craig Pridemore spent his Valentine’s Day afternoon by showing some love to the CRC.

“I attended my very first meeting on what was to become the Columbia River Crossing project in the spring of 1995,” the Vancouver Democrat reminisced. “At that time, I was a 34-year-old fiance manager for the county’s public works department. … I turn 52 next month. Eighteen years is long enough to spend on a project. I am here today to respectfully ask you to, please, build that bridge.”

Pridemore detailed the painstaking negotiations officials from Oregon and Washington went through to come to an agreement on the project. He was in Salem earlier in the week telling Oregon legislators the same thing.

“We went through every single, conceivable alternative you can think of,” Pridemore said Thursday in Olympia. “Any very large magaproject such as this is bound to involve a great deal of controversy. It’s made even more controversial and more difficult to come to a consensus about a project when it involves two states and two communities as diverse and different as the Portland metro area and the city of Vancouver are.”

Democratic County Commissioner Steve Stuart also asked the transportation committee to build the bridge. He said he was speaking on behalf of himself, not the board of county commissioners, who recently passed a resolution to withhold any financial support for the CRC as it’s currently planned.

“There have been more than 900 public events, more than 27,000 face-to-face contacts, more than 12,000 public comments,” Stuart said. “After all of that wrestling and wrangling and work and struggle, we reached a locally preferred alternative that meets the purpose and need. … If we delay this further, we will cost our communities in time, in money, in commerce.”

Stuart said the benefits of building the bridge far outweigh the costs.

Paul Montague of Identity Clark County also expressed his support for the CRC, while forensic accountant Tiffany Couch, of Vancouver, told lawmakers that the CRC is more pricey than project planners lead them to believe.

“The Columbia River Crossing project office and the Washington State
Department of Transportation is asking you to make a $5.5 billion investment, not a $3.5 billion investment,” said Couch, who was once hired by CRC opponent and Republican Clark County Commissioner David Madore to dig into the CRC’s finances.

Those extra costs for the CRC come from interest on the project’s debt, and they will be paid for by increases in tolling, she said.

You can watch the entire Senate Transportation Committee work session here.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or or or

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