VANCOUVER, Wash. – It appears you will be paying to cross the Columbia River on Interstate 5.
The Washington State Senate passed a bill giving the transportation department the authority to create tolls to help pay for the planned Columbia River Crossing.
"This bill really says, 'Yes, this is a facility that you may toll. But first you need to go through and establish how you’re going to toll and what those toll rates will be,'” said the CRC’s Anne Pressentin.
She described it as one step in a process toward including toll revenue to fund the roughly $3-billion multi-modal project.
The anticipated cost of the toll per crossing would be about $2.50 and double that for round-trip commuters.
“That’s five bucks a day; it wasn’t our poor planning that made the traffic jams, it was their lack of foresight. So I don’t know why we should have to pay for that,” said Chad Matheson, who crosses the river to work in Oregon.
CRC supporters said the old Interstate Bridge has become a bottleneck and a safety problem. And the new crossing will offer a more efficient trip for drivers, as well as those using buses, light rail, and bikes.
"Light rail really came out as the best option and replacing the bridge, the best option for solving our congestion and safety problems… if you just have one without the other you don’t get the benefit," said Pressentin.
A toll authorization bill still needs to clear the House chambers before it can go to the governor’s desk for a signature. It’s unclear exactly when tolling could start for drivers.