Senator Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) announced today that the first meeting of the Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee, is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs in Portland. The meeting signals a new level of collaboration between the two states in the effort to build a new I-5 bridge spanning the Columbia River.

“I thank my friends in Oregon for their cooperation and support and look forward to working together for the mutual good of our region,” said Cleveland, whose legislation in 2017 established the committee. “A replacement I-5 Bridge is critical for the region for current and future generations.”

Cleveland said the progress is the result of several years of collaboration by seven Southwest Washington legislators to demonstrate a consensus that would earn the trust of their Oregon counterparts. Those lawmakers are Cleveland, Sens. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) and Lynda Wilson (R- Vancouver) and Reps. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver), Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) and Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver).

“We all agree on the overdue need for a new bridge and a process that maintains the public’s trust and support,” she said. “I’m not going to suggest this undertaking will be simple or easy, but we are determined to find a path that leads us to a solution in order to build the much-needed replacement bridge.”

In addition to creating a Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee, lawmakers in Washington passed legislation that directed the Washington State Department of Transportation to inventory data from prior bridge proposals to expedite the planning process. Other proposed legislation by Cleveland would simplify and accelerate the administration of a new I-5 bridge plan once it has been agreed upon.

Washington lawmakers on the joint committee are Cleveland, Rivers, Wilson, Wylie and Vick plus Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) and Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama).

Oregon lawmakers who have agreed to attend Tuesday’s meeting as guests are Sens. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) and Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), along with Reps. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) and Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro). The Washington Legislature’s authority to appoint members to the committee is limited to Washington state legislators. Moving forward, any defined role on, or commitment to, the committee by Oregon lawmakers must be determined by the Oregon State Legislature.

“A new bridge would spur economic growth throughout the surrounding communities while also improving safety, reliability and better protecting motorists in the event of an earthquake, Cleveland said. “The current spans of the bridge, built in 1917 and 1958 respectively, have served us well, but the time for replacement in order to better serve our needs as a thriving region is now.”