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Will Columbia River Crossing rise again?

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PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Congestion is growing again on the aging I-5 bridge as the economy continues to recover.When Washington and Oregon were negotiating a project to replace the Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River and enhance mobility in the bistate region, Washington legislators ultimately balked in 2013 on contributing funding.

The Columbian newspaper, which is within eyesight of the Interstate 5 bridge, published an obituary for the project, "The Columbia River Crossing is Dead.”

Nearly three years later, a group of lawmakers from Southwest Washington are trying to resurrect discussions with Oregon on expanding the interstate and replacing the bridge.

A bill that passed unanimously in the Washington House Transportation Committee Wednesday would establish a work group of eight legislators each from Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon to resume planning for the project.

The bill, by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, and Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, would require a report to the Washington Legislature by Dec. 1, 2017.

John Sattgast, a spokesman for Washington House Republicans, said he isn’t aware of any recent discussions between Pike and Oregon legislators about the bill.

About 1 ½ years ago, Pike gathered key legislators from Oregon and Washington at a meeting in Vancouver to try to restart talks on the project., Sattgast said.

“It hadn’t happened too long after the collapse of the CRC so there was still a lot of frayed and sensitive nerves,” Sattgast said. “Whether that has died down, I don’t know.”

Rep. John Huffman, R-The Dalles, has previously been in touch with Pike about the project but hasn’t spoken with her about it for several months, according to his office at the Oregon Capitol.

"I think right now they are trying to get this thing moving through.,” Sattgast said. “My assumption is certainly Oregon is going to be a key player in this so at some point we will have to get in touch with Oregon.”