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Friday, April 26, 2013

Hales on Columbia River Crossing: "I Want it to Stop Lurking."

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 at 2:59 PM

During his short tenure atop City Hall, Mayor Charlie Hales has made it a point to keep out of the squabbling over the Columbia River Crossing—a marked change from his predecessor. Turns out Hales, unlike many others, is relatively dispassionate about what would be the largest infrastructure project in the state's history. He just wants a decision.

In Hales' first-ever State of the City address Friday, he used a question about the future of West Hayden Island to take a swipe at the $3.4 billion proposal's prolonged planning. The CRC is currently being debated by lawmakers in Olympia, who are deciding whether to match Oregon's allotment of $450 million.

"If they don’t, it’s time to say 'enough,'" Hales said. "We’re sorry."

Asked about the remark after the speech, Hales said he's purposely refrained from weighing in on the bridge, but that he'd like it to "stop lurking."

"My earnest desire is that this thing gets decided," he said.

The waffling in Washington has been a hot topic in Oregon, with the Oregonian unleashing a chiding at Olympia today. Earlier this month, a leaked video showed Washington Republicans posing hard questions to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about the project. Up to $1.2 billion in federal funds may hinge on whether the state approves its piece of the project.

"If you shuffle and mumble with Ray LaHood, he's going to walk away," Hales said today. "He means what he says and says what he means."

The mayor hasn't always been reticent to speak on the CRC. It was an inevitable topic of last year's mayoral race, during which Hales said he likes the project's light rail component, but would favor design changes.

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