Rivers continues on Columbia River Crossing oversight committee

18th District senator also in line to serve on transportation-funding group

Sen. Ann Rivers will remain a member of the committee she helped create earlier this year to provide legislative oversight of the Columbia River Crossing project.

Rivers, R-La Center, attended the committee’s June 19 meeting in Vancouver as one of two state representatives named to the group by the two leaders of the House Transportation Committee. She said those committee leaders want her to stay on the oversight panel even though she resigned from the House of Representatives on Monday to accept an appointment to the Senate.

“I’ve heard from many people in southwest Washington who are concerned that so much has already been spent on the CRC project with so little to show for it. My fellow legislators from other parts of the state have picked up on that as well, which was reflected in the support we saw for the creation of this oversight committee,” Rivers said.

“Officially, those of us on the committee are supposed to review project and financing information and coordinate with our counterparts in Oregon; I plan to do more than that because there are still a lot of questions surrounding this project,” Rivers added. “I’m glad to be continuing on this group so I can stay in the middle of it all and keep pushing our state Department of Transportation and others for the answers my constituents deserve.”

The oversight panel is looking to meet again in early August, once in early October and a final time in early December, said Rivers, whose amendment to the state transportation budget passed this year created the group.

Rivers, a member of the House Transportation Committee before becoming the 18th Legislative District’s senator, also has been tapped to represent Senate Republicans on another committee established through the transportation budget.

The “road user assessment” steering committee is charged with examining the feasibility of transitioning from the state gas tax to some other method of paying for highway projects. In addition to four legislators it will have members representing the trucking industry, business, local governments, public transportation, environmental, user-fee technology, auto and light-truck manufacturers and the motoring public.

“I realize there’s a gap between the cost of the road projects on the state’s to-do list and the amount of revenue coming in from the state gas tax. However, I also know people are rightfully concerned about alternatives to the gas tax, such as an expansion of tolling or charging motorists based on the miles they travel,” Rivers said.“I’m open to working with anyone to address the issues facing southwest Washington and our state, and in keeping with that philosophy I’d rather be part of the discussion and make sure the public’s concerns are fully considered than to be outside the room when these talks happen.”