I-5 Columbia River bridge project shuts down

I-5 Columbia River bridge project shuts down
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)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — The office for the Columbia River Crossing has been cleared out as the unsuccessful project to build a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River officially ends this month.

Nearly $200 million was spent on plans for a $2.9 billion bridge with light rail to connect Portland and Vancouver, The Columbian reported Wednesday.

The bridge had been a joint effort of Oregon and Washington before Washington state lawmakers balked at authorizing money in 2013. Oregon attempted to continue the project on its own, but in March the Oregon Legislature declined to fund it.

Although some cleanup work remains, there's no sign of the project coming back to life.

"Nothing has changed," said Dave Thompson, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman. "ODOT is not seeking funding, and we are shutting down the project."

Work on two key Corps of Engineers permit applications has been halted, said Marci Johnson, a program manager.

Other loose ends remain in limbo, The Columbian reported.

A contract signed last year by C-Tran and TriMet, spelling out how the two agencies would operate light rail, is dormant.

A lawsuit challenging the CRC in 2012 still hasn't been resolved. Attorneys representing the Federal Highway Administration and other defendants recently received a stay, delaying the case for one year. But that doesn't mean the states are planning to make another attempt at reviving the CRC, Thompson said.

It's also unclear whether Washington and Oregon will have to repay tens of millions of dollars in federal money spent on the failed project. A final decision has not been made, a Federal Highway Administration spokesman said Wednesday.

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Information from: The Columbian