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Oregon Lawmakers Kick Off I-5 Bridge Replacement Debate

Columbia River Crossing

SALEM, Ore. – Some legislative leaders in Salem are saying that the state may not have to raise any taxes or fees right away to replace the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. Oregon could absorb the cost of paying for long-term bonds through existing funds -- for now, anyway.

Lawmakers did leave the door open to future increases in gas taxes or vehicle registration fees. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber testified Monday in front of a special legislative committee. It was created solely to consider a replacement for the aging I-5 spans between Portland and Vancouver.

"These bridges need to be replaced with modern, multi-modal seismically-sound spans if we're going to maintain the vitality of our trade-dependent economy, and make good on the investments that we're making today to try to ensure economic recovery and growth in the future," the governor said.

The $3.5 billion bridge would be paid for through a combination of tolls, and federal and state dollars. Both Oregon and Washington would need to pitch in around $450 million each.

On the Web:

Columbia Rover Crossing - official site