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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big CRC News: Earl Blumenauer Nixes CRC from Federal Funding Ask.

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Now this is a surprise.

Last year Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer asked the federal government to earmark $3 million for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC). This year, the project is conspicuously absent from the Congressman's ask.

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  • Jon Sperry

Check it out for yourself: compare Blumenauer's 2010 vs. 2011 federal earmark asks on his website.

So does this mean Blumenauer (who declared this weekend at the Rebooting Democracy conference, "I bleed green!") has joined the CRC's chorus of critics?

Reached moments ago for comment, Blumenauer says he did not think giving more federal money for planning the CRC would advance the project significantly. Since 2003, the project has received about $25 million in federal dollars for planning.

"We have helped get tens of millions of dollars of study money, and we're moving forward to the point where we need something more concrete to present," says the congressman. "I think people have some concerns that we've spent a lot of time and money and there isn't yet a regional consensus, a vision or a plan to pay for it. These are thing that after having steered all that federal money to this point, that we would like to have seen." He says that he will consider asking for more federal funding for the project once we get "consensus, a vision and a funding proposal." "There is a great deal of concern about not nipping around the edges and not tossing a million or two toward something that does not move the plan forward. I do feel very strongly that we have a partnership, I want to help it."

In contrast, Blumenauer is asking for $5,000,000 in federal funding for the replacement of the Sellwood Bridge and $2,000,000 for the Oregon Sustainability Center.

Blumenauer explains what's different about the Sellwood Bridge and the CRC. "There is a vision and a funding program for the Sellwood Bridge. It was not easy, but people rolled up their sleeves, it took them several years, but we've got a proposal. That's something that's got a bow on it and it's ready to go."

So what are Earl's personal feelings on the current $2.6-3.6 billion bridge plan? "Between healthcare and trying to deal with how we rebuild and renew this country, one of the things I'm not about to do is wade in and tell local officials what to do. Life is too short."

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