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'Don't see larger projects on horizon,' she tells Portland Tribune editorial board.



Although Oregon lawmakers are working on a transportation package this session, House Speaker Tina Kotek says she does not expect any plan to pay for such projects as a new Columbia River bridge between Portland and Vancouver, Wash.

“I could be wrong, but I don’t see those larger projects on the horizon,” the Portland Democrat said at an editorial board meeting of the Portland Tribune.

Lawmakers start their 160-day session on Feb. 2.

While there has been lots of talk about what work a plan should fund and how the money will be raised, Kotek says no one has mentioned reviving the failed Columbia River Crossing for Interstate 5.

Lawmakers approved Oregon’s $450 million share of the $3 billion project early in their 2013 session, but the Washington Senate declined to approve $450 million already approved by the House.

An Oregon-led financing option was floated, but it never reached a vote of the House or Senate in the 2014 session, and the project was shut down.

Federal grants and motorist tolls would have provided the rest of the money.

Critics raised economic and environmental questions about the project, although it had gotten approval for most permits.

One span of the current Interstate Bridge was opened in 1917, and the other in 1958.

Kotek supported a new bridge despite opposition in her district, which covers North and Northeast Portland. The southern end of the project would be in her district.

“I hope someday we can use the information we gathered for that project,” Kotek says. “But the Washington Senate has not gotten better in that regard.”

In 2013, the Washington Senate was run by a coalition of Republicans and two Democrats. This year, Republicans have 25 seats, Democrats 24.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed a 12-year, $12 billion plan for transportation projects, but it contains nothing to revive the Columbia River bridge.

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