State land-use panel hits new I-5 bridge approval process

LUBA rules that portion outside urban growth boundary is not subject to Metro approval

The Columbia River Crossing approval process just got a little more complicated.

On Thursday, the state Land Use Board of Appeals ruled that the Metro Council could not approve the portion of the project outside the region's urban growth boundary it administers to control development.

Metro had approved a final land-use order authorizing the project under a state law governing Portland-area transit projects. The $3.6 billion Interstate 5 replacement bridge and freeway project includes a new light-rail line between Portland and Vancouver.

The approval was appealed to LUBA on several issues by a number of groups opposed to the project. The only grounds LUBA upheld related to Metro's authority outside the urban growth boundary.

Metro could extend the boundary to include a portion of the project that stretches from the north shore of Hayden Island to the Washington border. That would be subject to a LUBA appeal, however.

The project is expected to reduce congestion and improve safety in a five-mile stretch of I-5 that includes the bridge and a number of freeway interchanges. It is supported by business and labor groups but opposed by environmental and livability organizations.