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Oregon Lawmakers Want More Answers On I-5 Bridge Plan

Columbia River Crossing
An artist's rendition of the proposed 1-5 bridge over the Columbia River.

Oregon lawmakers say they want more answers before they'll agree to proceed with a plan to build a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia River.

A legislative panel met for the first time Tuesday to discuss the possibility of moving ahead with the project without any help from Washington state.

Last year, the Oregon legislature authorized $450 million toward the project. But that approval expired after Washington lawmakers decided not to fund the plan. That means Oregon would lean heavily on toll-paying drivers to pay the rest of the cost of the projected $2.8 billion crossing.

The basic toll for cars is expected to be $2.50. Analysts say that would push traffic over to the free I-205 bridge nearby. They say that bridge can handle the increase.

But Portland-area lawmakers such as Democratic Representative Chris Gorsek say traffic in the area is already a mess.

"The other day because I-5 was screwed up, I-84 was screwed up and 205 was screwed up," he says. "I feel like this is a little incomplete."

Lawmakers also questioned whether toll revenue would be sufficient unless Oregon can broker a deal with Washington to go after that state's toll evaders.