Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) released the following statement on the Move Ahead Washington transportation revenue package agreed upon today by the House and Senate. SB 5975 is scheduled to come to the floors of those respective chambers for final passage on Thursday.

“The I-5 bridge replacement funded by this package is the reason I came to Olympia 10 years ago. The ancient, inadequate I-5 bridge we rely on every day is decades overdue for replacement, and I knew our community could not move forward until we have a bridge designed for today’s traffic, transit and climate needs.

“Our community understands the need for a new bridge better than anyone. If your only experience with the existing bridge is to drive down I-5 and cross from Washington to Oregon or back every once in a while, you probably think you crossed it on a bad day. You didn’t. For those of us who rely on this bridge daily, every day can be a bad day.

“Today, however, is a good day. A great day. Because today we are stepping forward with a $1 billion commitment to work hand in hand with our partners in Oregon and in the federal government—a commitment that makes us eligible for billions in federal infrastructure funds that will come back into our community.

“The I-5 bridge is the very backbone of my community’s transportation system and the key to transportation up and down the entire West Coast. But for far too long, it has not worked well. And one of the worst problems has been travel from Vancouver to Portland.

“Last month marked the 105th anniversary of the opening of the I-5 bridge that linked Vancouver and Portland. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson was president and our country had yet to enter WWI. Most people got around on horseback, not by car. That’s the society that bridge was designed to serve. And society looks a lot different today.

“Our outmoded, dilapidated spans will be replaced by technology designed to withstand earthquakes and keep people safe during our increasingly volatile storms. It will add capacity and offer transit alternatives to smooth travel for everyone.

“What’s more, the economic benefits will reverberate throughout our communities, launching waves of growth with both the new jobs this project will create and the many indirect jobs that will also result. This will ensure future prosperity for our community in the same way the existing bridges invigorated our region a century ago.

“Our funding of this critical project reflects the collaboration and partnership of the Bistate Committee and our colleagues in Oregon. We could not have made this happen without them, any more than they could have made it happen without us. Our fates and our futures are intertwined, and both our states will reap the benefits of the new bridge.

“This is a landmark day for Washington, Oregon and every community in the surrounding region.”