Washington governor says I-5 bridge project must include light rail

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OLYMPIA, Wash. — Any replacement for the century-old Interstate 5 bridge connecting Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., must include light rail, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said last week.

Inslee, speaking at a preview of the 2019 legislative session that beings today, said light rail will be included because Oregon, which will pay for half of the project, insists on its inclusion, the Columbian reports. Local opposition to light rail helped kill a previous effort to replace the bridge in 2013. The drawbridge over the Columbia River is a major bottleneck on I-5 and between Portland and Vancouver.

“There is a ton of legislative support for a bridge that does have light rail, and I’m very clear about that,” said Inslee. His proposed budget includes $17.5 million for a bridge project office that includes the assumption that light rail will be part of the project. Lawmakers from Clark County, Wash., prefer a bus rapid transit option. While open to the bus option, Inslee said he prefers light rail because it would connect to Portland’s extensive MAX Light Rail system, which he called “a pretty sweet deal.”

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