Inslee: Light rail is a must

first_imgOLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee has a message for Southwest Washington: The replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge spanning the Columbia River will include light rail, or it won’t be built.Speaking at a preview of the 2019 legislative session, which begins Monday, Inslee said that light rail will be a feature of the replacement bridge because Oregon will pay for half of the project and has insisted that it be included. Inslee said the situation might be different if Washington was paying for the entire project. But, he said, it “takes two to tango.”“What I want to make clear, though, is that the Southwest Washington community needs to come together around a consensus,” said Inslee. “At the moment, unless Oregon changes its view, you’re going to have to put light rail on the bridge if you want a bridge.”In December, Washington and Oregon lawmakers had their first public meeting to discuss replacing the century-old bridge since the last proposal for a new crossing was scuttled in 2013. Inslee included $17.5 million in his proposed budget for a bridge replacement project office that included the assumption light rail will be included.While all but one member of Clark County’s Republican lawmakers support the bridge-replacement effort, they’ve voiced their support for bus rapid transit rather than light rail, which they’ve criticized as costly and inflexible. Last month, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and seven Republican Southwest Washington state lawmakers wrote to Inslee expressing dismay over his move to include light rail and asked him to keep other options on the table.last_img read more