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U.S. House Appropriations Committee Demands an I-5 Bridge Project that Protects River Commerce, Southwest Washington Jobs
Jaime Herrera Beutler secures provision in Homeland Security bill report directing the CRC to not block commerce; congresswoman remains concerned that hundreds of Southwest Washington jobs will be lost
Today the full U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved legislation expressing concern with the CRC’s proposed height, and directing U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that the CRC does not block river commerce.
The Coast Guard is currently in the process of reviewing the permit request for a new Columbia River Crossing bridge between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. While there are many advantages to building a new bridge, the Committee is concerned with the proposed clearance height of the planned bridge, which would significantly limit navigation of the river by numerous users up river. This inability to navigate may lead to devastating economic losses for the impacted users and could also negatively affect the surrounding communities. Over $500,000,000 in economic activity each year could be lost in addition to terminating 500 jobs in the surrounding area. This significant obstruction to the free flow of navigation on the Columbia River is very troubling. Furthermore, mitigation is limited for affected river users because the existing infrastructure cannot be replicated. To address these concerns, the Committee directs the Coast Guard to consider the economic impacts of the planned bridge including impacts due to lost use of the waterway and to therefore, ensure that, within reason, the river commerce is not blocked. The Coast Guard shall provide a report to the Committee on those economic impacts and any proposed mitigation activities to address lost access to the waterway. The Coast Guard shall provide this report prior to issuing a permit for the bridge.