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Columbia River Crossing committee appointed in Salem

A special Joint Committee on the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project charged with considering the next steps in the bridge replacement and freeway safety project has been appointed at the 2013 Oregon Legislature.

The first meeting of the committee will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11.

The committee was appointed Wednesday by Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem/Gervais/Woodburn) and House Speaker Tina Kotek.

“We need a new bridge. We need to be able to safely move our people and our goods across the mighty Columbia,” Courtney said in a statement announcing the committee. “A joint committee led by members of both parties can provide a fair and open process and send a signal to both Washingtons — the state to our north and the federal government — that Oregon is serious about moving our economy forward.”

“The bridge replacement project is vitally important to Oregon’s economy. We need to move swiftly to let our partners know that we’re committed to a safer bridge,” Kotek said in the statement. “This committee will ensure we’ve got a prudent, practical approach that will put people to work now and strengthen our economy in the long term.”

The committee will be made up of the membership of the Senate Business and Transportation and House Transportation and Economic Development committees. It will be co-chaired by Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro), Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), and Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton).

The CRC project is currently estimated at more than $3 billion. It includes a replacement I-5 bridge and new light rail line between Portland and Vancouver, along with a number of freeway interchange improvements.