Where’s the Secret Tax for the I-5 Bridge Proposal?

CRC Concept_Deck_TrussOn Monday, the Oregon Senate passed House Bill 2800, the new Interstate 5 Bridge Replacement Proposal (otherwise known as the Columbia River Crossing), which now goes to Governor Kitzhaber for his signature. Despite its passage, the I-5 bridge plan is still seriously flawed.

Legislators have authorized $450 million in debt financing without telling Oregonians who will be taxed for the debt service. All they have said to date is that ODOT will have to pay between $27 and 35 million annually for interest payments on bonds. Since ODOT doesn’t have the money, there must be a future tax increase – just not voted on by the same people who voted for HB 2800 this session.

This “back-loaded” approach to paying for projects taxpayers can’t afford is cynical and dishonest. The I-5 Bridge Proposal passed because legislators didn’t have to admit they were raising taxes. If the plan had included a 4-cent-per-gallon tax increase or a doubling of the vehicle registration fee, the debate would have been completely different.

Legislators who voted for HB 2800 wanted the glory of passing a bill; but before they start pouring concrete, they should look us in the eye and tell us which tax they plan to raise. If they can’t give us an honest answer, they aren’t qualified to serve.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director at Cascade Policy Institute.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Columbia River Crossing, State Taxes, Taxes | Tagged , , , , | 942 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • mike

    I don’t care what it costs – I HAVE to get to Washington!

    • guest

      Then go and never return until your sense and sensibility has returned to more common sense grounds, shillgrim!

  • Bob Clark

    Maybe Hayden Island can become even more of a lottery binge stop fed by the Max line. Booz, Brothel, and betting: rebrand to Vegas Hayden’s rail line. Plenty of potential for vice taxes. Could outsource this vice island to a Mafia type outfit, charging them with keeping “order” and keeping the revenues to state coffers going. Remember, there’s no bad ideas in brainstorming. Every few years, you compete the outsource contract by having competing mafia outfits put on a war at a special coliseum with bullet proof glass, and sell tickets to the public to this spectacle (Roman Coliseum like). Remember, there’s no bad ideas in brainstorming.

    By comparison, Governor Krispy Kreme donuts in New Jersey is advocating on line lottery tax revenue generation. This is not as clean as the above, where the vice is bottled up on an island near the Washington state border.

    • marvinmcconoughey

      The existing bridge is sufficient to carry the existing traffic if it were more evenly distributed. The new bridge will impose tolls on travelers. Why not put the tolls on the old bridge, with congestion pricing for peak travel? That would act to reduce peak traffic and extend the sufficiency life of the existing bridge. The time gained could then be used to take an integrated fresh new look at regional transportation needs.

      The present bridge and infrastructure proposal is weak and deeply flawed. Three billion dollars and counting is a truly vast amount of money to commit to on the basis of the sloppy work that has been done to date.

      • Wakka Wakka

        Peak traffic is not peak because people arbitrarily decide to travel at those hours. It’s peak because that’s when people are going to and from work. The only effect tolls would have is to drive motorists to the 205 bridge, clogging it.

        • marvinmcconoughey

          Peak traffic has many contributing factors, including the solitary factor that you identified. Peak traffic is malleable, and congestion pricing of tolls would prompt a considerable diversity of coping responses, of which you identify only one. However, the new bridge will be borne with tolling which, if you are correct, would drive traffic elsewhere.

          However, a fully considered bridge plan would be far more persuasive than the present highly controversial and unpopular multi-billion dollar project that has more flaws in it than in ODOT’s management of the Highway 20 project between Corvallis and the coast.

  • scrout

    @mike, you have to get to Washington? Then why would you be in favor of this new bridge, it SPECIFICALLY does NOT increase capacity. Even if it were 16 lanes, only 3 lanes each way access this bridge, Not sure what some folks think is positive about this whole project? Oh yeah, politicians get to pick whom they hand out $4 billion to…..

  • Moe

    These morons could not build anything on their own. They are fools!!

  • Reprogram Now

    Simple pimple with a KISS: Move the CRC project downstream and leave the unbroken I-5 bridge alone. And even if a 3rd bridge must engage tolls, it will carry plenty of traffic so easing burdens elsewhere. As for light rail, nix it as both sides of the river don’t want or need it.

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