Oregon/Washington: I-5 Bridge talks remain cautious

More than two years after the Washington state legislature created an interstate committee to restart the I-5 Bridge replacement process, the political fallout from the prior failed effort continues to influence the Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee, especially regarding the role community stakeholders could play in the process.

One of the areas of most concern is community engagement and navigating the competing interests of varied stakeholder groups that some blame for the downfall of the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) process. While committee documents note that “extensive and meaningful community engagement is critical,” members at an August 6 meeting expressed apprehensions about how that feedback should be gathered and incorporated into the plan as it develops.

The 2013 CRC process floundered – despite support from both Oregon and Washington governors – due to disagreements among state lawmakers over stakeholder issues such as tolling and light rail. At the same time, some attribute its demise to an oversaturation of community involvement that resulted in gridlock.