Lawmakers to spend months on transportation package

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Columbia River Bridge_299219

In this Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, photo, early morning traffic crosses the Interstate 5 bridge, which spans the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington states in Vancouver, Wash. One of the casualties of the coming federal budget crunch could be a new $3-billion bridge to replace the current bridge.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Legislature has picked the 14 lawmakers who will spend the next several months crafting a transportation package for the 2017 legislative session.

Traffic congestion and ailing highways, ports and bridges are stressing the state’s transportation system. After lawmakers failed to pass a transportation funding package in 2015, Gov. Kate Brown says it’s a top priority next year.

Until then, the committee of Senators and House Representatives – eight Democrats and six Republicans – will hold regular public meetings starting in May as it creates a new proposal.

Democrats Rep. Caddy McKeown and Sen. Lee Beyer are co-chairs, while Republicans Rep. Cliff Bentz and Sen. Brian Boquist are co-vice chairs.

Longtime Republican Sen. Jackie Winters, who’s been absent this year after undergoing heart surgery, is also on the committee.

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