Northwest Members of Congress to Coast Guard: Economic Impact Study on CRC Needed
CRC design still imposes clearance problems that will significantly impact region’s navigation, economy, and jobs
Today, four Northwest Members of Congress formally requested that the U.S. Coast Guard conduct an economic impact study on the Columbia River Crossing prior to that agency issuing any possible permits for the project.
Today, four Northwest Members of Congress formally requested that the U.S. Coast Guard conduct an economic impact study on the Columbia River Crossing prior to that agency issuing any possible permits for the project. In a letter to the Coast Guard, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3), Doc Hastings (WA-4), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5) and Raul Labrador (ID-1) reinforced continued concerns over the CRC’s proposed design that is too low to accommodate multiple river users on the Columbia River.
· The CRC admits that these trips, though limited in number, are significant revenue producers for the fabricating companies that would no longer be able to fit their cargo under the bridge for shipment. These trips have historically represented nearly 10 percent of their gross annual revenue, and stand to represent even greater numbers due to current company growth.
· These trips have represented nearly $200 million in revenue to these companies over the course of the last 10 years and have provided employment to approximately 140 full time, well paid employees. Current and anticipated growth within the companies will only cause these numbers to rise.
· In addition to the businesses that are being impacted, land owners stand to lose significant value to their properties if these businesses are forced to relocate and future tenants cannot be found due to insufficient bridge clearance to move cargo.
· Costs for the bridge design modifications to raise the clearance to the height of 116 feet are estimated at $30 million. In reality, this number is woefully inadequate since it does not include mitigation costs, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions, for the businesses and landowners who will continue to be impacted by a bridge clearance that would remain insufficient.
· In an issue unaddressed by the CRC, how can we possibly mitigate for the families whose jobs will unnecessarily be lost?
We cannot cavalierly dismiss the impacts to the businesses, current and future, which depend upon the free flow of river commerce to survive. Neither can we dismiss the impacts to our local economy, nor the jobs that would cease, should these companies be forced to relocate or close their doors. We would argue that we do not want to take this risk when we have the opportunity to bring about a solution that ensures free navigation of the river and protects our regional economy, both now and in the future.