Project many years in making

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire announced that federal transportation agencies gave formal approval for the Columbia River Crossing project plan on Wednesday.

The approval allows final design and construction planning to proceed. It ratifies the environmental review process and formally identifies the selected alternative for the CRC - a replacement Interstate 5 bridge with light rail and related interchange improvements. The decision allows the project to be eligible for future federal funding.

Kitzhaber says the project's federal partners have reconfirmed the purpose and need for the project, and validated the process used to select a preferred alternative.

Gregoire says the decision is the culmination of years of hard work, thousands of hours of public input and reams of detailed and extensive technical analysis. She said it will help businesses create jobs in both states, and all along the West Coast that depend on I-5 corridor.

Washington U.S Senator Parry Murray says the decsion is a major step forward for a critical project that will create jobs and lay down a strong foundation for long-term economic growth throughout the region.

The project is intended to reduce congestion and improve safety in the corridor. Discussions began in 1999 and have continued since then.

The project formally entered the fedrally-required decision-making process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 2005.

Through that process, advisory groups, partner agencies and the public worked with CRC staff to generate and screen 70 project ideas, narrow them to 12 multi-modal representative alternatives, before selecting five alternatives to study for the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

One locally preferred alternative was selected in 2008 by sponsor agencies. A final EIS on the locally preferred alternative was released in September 2011.

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