Dear friends and neighbors,

The transportation revenue package currently before the Legislature, vitally needed in communities across our state, is even more critical to Southwest Washington.

Like past transportation packages, it would sustain our ability to travel smoothly and safely by supplementing the steadily declining gas tax revenues that maintain roads all over our state. More importantly, it commits $1.2 billion toward the cost of replacing the I-5 bridge here in Vancouver. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

As badly as we’ve needed a new bridge, and for as long as we’ve needed it, the need and urgency have been only exacerbated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Our region has been starved for economic growth for years; it’s now gone from stagnant to reeling, with existing businesses struggling to survive, much less thrive. Economic development has never been needed more.

Our fastest, shortest path to reopening still hinges on containing the pandemic. But our next step needs to be targeted investment, and nothing brings a better return than when we invest in major infrastructure. A new bridge would not only bring an influx of family-wage jobs and robust economic activity but spur long-term growth throughout the surrounding region. It would enable us not just to recover but to build back stronger.

Last but far from least, it’s essential we pass this revenue package to demonstrate our state’s commitment as we ask our partners in Oregon and Washington D.C. to join us in financing the bridge.

I would tell you that the time to fund a replacement bridge is now—and in terms of the current revenue proposal, that’s true—but in all practical respects, the time was years ago. We’re years and years behind, and we cannot afford further delay. This is why I have worked so hard, year after year, to get us to the point where our state’s transportation plan includes funds for a new bridge.

When each of the current spans was built, decades back, waves of economic growth and prosperity swept through the surrounding communities and transformed Southwest Washington for the benefit of generations. A new bridge can repeat that precious dynamic, right when our community needs it most.