Tolls make CRC viable, new analysis says

Tolls make CRC viable, new analysis says
In this Aug. 4, 2011, file photo, taken in Portland, Ore., traffic crosses the Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Could tolls generate enough cash to finance the construction of a new I-5 bridge?

Oregon Department of Transportation officials released a new analysis claiming it will.

The report, prepared by consultant CDM Smith for ODOT, estimated tolls would generate at least $1.35 billion in revenue, according to our news partners at the Columbian. The state would need enough toll revenue to repay an $800 million loan from the federal government and another $450 million it intends to borrow to build the $2.7 million bridge.

Critics of the proposal believe it will force more traffic onto I-205 and the analysis shows that in 2036, traffic on the I-5 bridge will be at lower levels than it is today.

Oregon will have to build the bridge without the help of Washington. State lawmakers in Olympia defeated a funding bill last year that would have matched the $450 million for the new bridge.

Oregon state lawmakers voted to approve a similar contribution, and Gov. John Kitzhaber wants the legislature to reauthorize it in February's upcoming session.