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Sources Say: Hales says fund it or shelve CRC

Mayor Charlie Hales thinks the $3 billion Columbia River Crossing project should be written off if the Washington Legislature doesn’t agree to pay for its share, and soon.

Speaking to the Portland City Club on Friday, Hales said: “I think we’re going to know that probably in the next 30 days if they don’t, it’s time to say ‘enough, this is the world’s most expensive shelf study.’ “

It’s unclear how much influence Hales has on the project because the city is not financing it. The 2013 Oregon Legislature has agreed to pay $450 million for the replacement Interstate 5 bridge and light-rail line to Vancouver, along with I-5 interchange improvements, but some Washington lawmakers are resisting funding the project.

The budget under consideration in Olympia includes just $82 million for the bridge — and no one knows if the federal government will consider that enough to keep its funding for the project on track.

Cash flows into campaign coffers

Campaign contributions for the four measures on Portland’s May 21 ballot already have topped $1 million and likely will go much higher before election day.

So far, more money and in-kind contributions have been raised in support of fluoridating Portland’s water than for any other measure on the Portland ballot — by a wide margin.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland reported collecting nearly $616,000 earlier this week. Clean Water Portland, which opposes fluoridation, reported raising less than $187,000 to defeat Measure 26-151.

The second most successful campaign is the Committee for Safe and Successful Children, which supports renewing the Portland Children’s Levy. It reports raising nearly $292,000 to back Measure 26-150. There is no opposing committee.

In third place is Restore Our Natural Areas, which favors the Metro levy to rehabilitate the regional government’s land holdings. It reports raising just over $186,000 to support Measure 26-152, which has no organized opposition.

Portland still has a lot of things to do

Hales started his City Club speech by acknowledging former Mayor Sam Adams. Then, apparently without a sense of irony, Hales spent much of his time describing all the problems Adams left him.

As Hales told the club members, Portland has a $21.5 million general fund shortfall and only $65,000 in its contingency fund. About $5 million of the shortfall is additional money the City Council needs to spend on long-overdue police reforms ordered by the U.S. Justice Department. The Portland Development Commission also has to be reconfigured. The Willamette River still needs to be cleaned up. Aggressive panhandling is out of control downtown. And, oh yeah, the future of West Hayden Island is still unresolved.

Of course, no one in the room took Hales’ comments as criticism of his predecessor. After all, Adams is the City Club’s new executive director.