September 22, 2009 11:00 AM, EDT

I-5 River Crossing in Ore. Likely to Be Scaled Back

Faced with an estimated price tag of $4 billion and little financial support from the federal government, local officials are backing away from their initial blueprint for the new Columbia River crossing.

The new crossing would replace the I-5 bridge that currently links Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash.

Backers of the project want a passenger rail line and 12 lanes of car and truck traffic but the plans have been hotly debated for years by business, environmental and residential groups on both sides of the river.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams initially agreed to 12 traffic lanes but this month joined others who said the project is too expensive and must be scaled back.

On the Vancouver side of the river, there is little support for a crossing that would require tolls paid mostly by Washington residents commuting into Portland to work.

Without tolls, Adams and others argue, there is no way to pay for the bridge since the federal government has said the biggest share of funding must come from local sources.