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Janie Har
By Janie Har October 4, 2013

Kitzhaber’s hoping that federal government comes through with transit money for new Columbia River Crossing

Back in his 2010 Environment Plan, Kitzhaber said that he would "work with our Congressional delegation to attract more funds federally for investing in different transit options that best fit a community and working with business creatively to provide workers more flexibility to reduce their driving, work from home or adopt flex time to address congestion problems and enhance our quality of life."

That probably sounded terrific to environmentalists keen to cut back on vehicle roads and boost mass transit, biking, and walking. But in making a case to PolitiFact Oregon that the governor was working to keep that promise, Kitzhaber's spokesman highlighted a project loathed by many environmentalists: the Columbia River Crossing.

House Bill 2800 committed Oregon to spend $450 million on a new bridge, provided Washington did the same. The project would then receive an $850 million light-rail grant from the Federal Transit Administration. But it's not clear whether anybody is going to build a new bridge given Washington's unwillingness to go along. So, no $850 million, for now.

We checked with TriMet and with the Oregon Department of Transportation, just to make sure Kitzhaber hadn't generated other acts of federal transit largesse. TriMet said the feds committed in May 2012 to pay $745 million of the new light-rail line between Milwaukie and Portland, but Kitzhaber didn't really need to do much prodding.

ODOT shared federal transit money by fiscal year. Oregon received about $210 million in fiscal 2009 before dropping to $96 million in fiscal 2011. In fiscal 2013 the state received $215 million and expects about the same in fiscal 2014. We don't see a significant, sustained difference in those figures.

The fate of a new bridge over the Columbia River is up in the air. The governor is working it hard, but until a new bridge is approved, we rate the promise Stalled.

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