OLYMPIA, Wash. -- With chants of “pass this now,” about a hundred elected officials and union members Monday encouraged Washington lawmakers to approve a transportation funding package.
But the bill could be held up by critics of a new bridge over the Columbia River.
“We’ve got to get that built this year,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Washington.
Inslee has said the state will lose out on federal funding if it does not approve plans to replace the current Interstate 5 bridge connecting Vancouver, Wash. to Portland, Ore.
A number of Republicans from Clark County said they will not support the package if funding for the Columbia River crossing is included.
The bridge includes plans for light rail, something voters in Clark County have repeatedly not supported.
Sen. Ann Rivers, R-Clark County, said everyone in the state should be concerned about the Department of Transportation getting involved in another bridge project.
“Are we supposed to believe all of the mistakes made because we rushed and rushed and rushed to get the 520 bridge done, those same mistakes haven’t happened on this bridge?” asked Rivers.
Under the transportation proposal, gas taxes would go up 10 cents over the next five years.
In addition to the new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River, the tax increase would pay for improvements to Interstate 405, State Routes 509 and 167.