Can the Columbia River Crossing plan be saved?

Traffic in the area where the Columbia River Crossing is proposed (Courtesy photo, April 13, 2013)
Traffic in the area where the Columbia River Crossing is proposed (Courtesy photo, April 13, 2013)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Leaders in the Washington state Senate are declining to vote on a $10 billion Washington state transportation package that has passed the House.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said Saturday that he and his colleagues are unified in their opposition to the plan this session. He said they plan to work over the coming months to help develop a proposal that lawmakers could consider next year.

Tom says improved infrastructure is important for the state’s economic vitality but that lawmakers first need to address policy changes for transportation projects, such as a new approach to the environmental review process.

The failure of the plan came despite a lobbying effort from Gov. Jay Inslee, who had hoped the bill would be approved this weekend.

“I’m beyond disappointed in this inaction,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “The failure by the Senate’s Republican-led majority to act on the transportation plan stops us from making important investments in maintaining and preserving our roads and bridges and ensuring the safety the public deserves. It also means that Washington has lost $850 million in federal funds that would have helped us build a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia River.”

The packaged approved by the House would have included a 10 1/2-cent increase in the gas tax in order to pay for a series of large projects.

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