Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, today issued the following statement after voting against the Senate transportation package:

“It is difficult for me to ask the people of my district to pay a higher gas tax and additional fees without including a plan for the next steps in replacing the lifeline in and out of my community – the Interstate 5 Bridge – which is why I voted against the revenue and spending portion of the transportation package.

“I continue to hear from constituents who are having trouble making ends meet. I want to be sure that when I commit my community to a transportation package lasting until 2031, that it is a proposal that addresses the most critical infrastructure and safety needs of our state. Failing to address the bridge is unconscionable.

“With this agreement Clark County will remain a donor county paying taxes to support other infrastructure investments in other parts of the state. Over the course of the last decade, Vancouver was told to wait our turn for other state megaprojects that took priority over replacing the I-5 Bridge. We’ve waited our turn. Our turn has arrived. Now is the time to fund the I-5 Bridge.

“Investments in a replacement bridge would have brought an estimated $3.1 billion to the region. These investments would help spur the jobs and economic investment our region desperately needs. Lack of replacement of the I-5 Bridge means continued congestion, an inability to efficiently move freight and goods in and out of our state, continued accidents, unreliability, safety hazards, and discourages businesses from locating to our region.

“I am pleased that the Senate was able to have the discussion about a transportation package. I know it is work in progress, however, I am disappointed that every attempt to begin discussion of replacing the I-5 Bridge has been blocked. It is unfortunate that there are legislators focused solely on the short-term and not the longer term success of our region.

“I want to ensure that a successful transportation package positions our state for a strong future with a healthy economy, environment, and personal health benefits. Our kids deserve the best future we can provide. Moving forward with a transportation package that omits replacement of the I-5 Bridge isn’t right, isn’t fair, and doesn’t adequately prepare our state for the future. At this time I believe that voting against the transportation package is in the best interest of Southwest Washington.”