Columbia River Crossing project tries to fill financial hole

Treasury report says traffic projections, tolling plan is off the mark

News The Oregonian July 21, 2011
Printer-friendly version

The Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project, a joint effort between the Oregon and Washington State departments of transportation, may be dependent on checks clearing before it is allowed to move forward.

On July 21 the Oregon Treasury said the CRC was using optimistic toll revenue projections and had a risky debt structure, resulting in a $468 million to $598 million funding shortfall. The CRC project now could be broken up into phases as the money comes in.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber wants CRC to develop a plan that would align construction with expected cash flow.

“I believe that if we are going to get the CRC done, it is time to start planning for a project that adapts to the available resources and fits into today’s economic reality,” he said in a statement.

Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeling said those behind the CRC project are not necessarily to blame for the flawed financial plan. Since the recession hit in 2008 traffic over the Columbia River has been on the decline. Wheeling’s report suggested that the CRC lower its traffic estimates by 15% to 25%, and also recommended moving away from the “back-loaded” debt service structure.

To help make up the difference, the CRC could look at receiving a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.

Overlay Init