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Old Posted Jan 11, 2007, 4:55 PM
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Columbia River Crossing (CRC) | Alive?

I know this thread previously exists somewhere...but where?

Crossing the Columbia
by Kennedy Smith

It’s a project that will either make or break Vancouver – at least according to the city’s mayor.

The proposed Columbia River Crossing, now in its planning and public feedback stages, is an attempt to improve traffic flow on Interstate 5 from Portland to Vancouver.

The current bridge is actually two separate bridges, built in 1917 and 1958, with the 1958 bridge allowing northbound traffic to come directly into downtown Vancouver, causing traffic headaches for commuters during peak hours. And, Vancouverites say, construction of the second bridge essentially split downtown in two.

“The concern for me and the community is that we have an opportunity to heal and reconstruct what was destroyed when they first put Interstate 5 through Vancouver,” said Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard. “We’re booming and we don’t want to do anything to harm that. This bridge is about the future economic viability of the region, and we ought to heal some of the things done in the past.”

The Columbia River Crossing is definitely on the radar of Vancouver businesses and residents, Pollard said, especially those residing or located near where the interstate spills directly into downtown, causing congestion during peak traffic hours. The Columbia River Crossing Task Force estimates daily traffic demand over the I-5 bridge will increase by more than 40 percent in 20 years, from 125,000 vehicles in 2000 to 180,000 in 2020.

With home buyers flocking to Clark County – the RMLS reported new home listings in Southwest Washington were up 13.1 percent from November 2005 to November 2006, with nearly 8,000 new homes sold by the end of the year – traffic is bound to increase exponentially.

Further, Vancouver has experienced a surge in development in the last three years, with more mixed-use office/retail and condominium buildings rising near the center of downtown. Development includes the new Hilton Vancouver Washington and Vancouver Convention Center, a revamped Esther Short Park on the waterfront and a mixed-use headquarters for The Columbian newspaper now under construction. Plus, downtown has a newly available site, the former Boise Cascade Lumber paper mill.

“Downtown Vancouver is a hotbed of development opportunity right now because of the successful development of Esther Short Park and because of the new Boise Cascade 25-acre site on the river that’s right next to the park blocks,” said Steve Campbell, publisher of The Columbian.

Campbell and Gerding Edlen Development Co. are in the process of building a $27 million, six-story headquarters across the street from Esther Short Park that will house the newspaper along with ground-floor retail and office space for lease.

“With all that potential, I hope nobody would put something in that would jeopardize development prospects,” Campbell said.

City’s economic fate rests with crossing

Vancouver’s economic stability lies with the project, said Steve Burdick, the city’s economic development director.

“Depending upon the design for I-5 after the north bridge landing, the widening of I-5 between about Sixth Street and Evergreen could cause the demolition of businesses such as the City Center 12 theaters (at Eighth and C streets),” he said. “These theaters are a major attraction in the downtown, and we are likely to be very opposed to any design that would affect them.”

Those on the task force say would-be developers and existing business owners in downtown Vancouver have little to worry about.

“There have been concerns expressed about how the project could impact development in Vancouver and throughout Clark County,” said Henry Hewitt, co-chairman of the Columbia River Crossing Task Force and a lawyer with the Portland office of Stoel Rives. “As a result, we’re looking at mid-level bridge alternatives and a couple different mass-transit alternatives that are now out for public comment. All of those are outcomes that would be consistent with a vibrant development of the Vancouver community.”

Mid-level means the bridge would be at a fixed height with no lifts along its span.

Hewitt said the task force has eliminated any bridge alternatives that would have required southbound drivers to yield the right-of-way when entering I-5.

However, the details of each plan are “far out in the future,” Hewitt said. “We don’t know how or where it would come into Vancouver. What I think I’ve heard is anxiety that how that might be negative to downtown.”

The task force has set an early 2008 date for choosing an alternative and late 2008 date for federal agencies to approve the decision.

It is still too early to say whether the bridge would be built in the same place as the current I-5 bridge or up- or downstream.

Bridge alternatives include taking no action, building a replacement bridge with bus access and bus rapid transit, and building a replacement bridge with light-rail transit and bus service.

Columbia River Crossing staff said additional strategies to reduce congestion would be added to the alternatives this year.

“Certainly, resolving the debate on light rail versus bus rapid transit is an important issue,” Burdick said. “Whether the ultimate choice is light rail or bus rapid transit, the way in which high-capacity transit interfaces with properties along its route will be critical to the continued viability of our downtown.”

Pollard said he doesn’t want to see ramps along the west side of the current bridge, where it would encroach, he said, on current development near Esther Short Park. Alternatively, he doesn’t think putting an off-ramp on the east side – in Vancouver’s historic area – would work either.

However, he said, it’s too early to say where the best place for a Vancouver off-ramp would be.

Burdick said a freeway lid is in order. Covering sections of freeway between Sixth and Evergreen streets to allow through traffic would be a positive attribute of the new system for two reasons, he said: “First it would greatly offset the negative sound, light and fume effects of the freeway. Second, the freeway split apart the downtown from the historic reserve, and a lid would reunite this historic tie.

“We need solutions that would cause the city to be supportive and allow us to embrace a new bridge,” he said. “We can’t afford to have our region come to a standstill because of the bottleneck. We’ll be watching it very closely and pushing what we think is right on our side while supporting people on the other side of the river.”

Upcoming Columbia River Crossing

open-house events


5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Battle Ground Police


507 S.W. First Street

Battle Ground, Wash.

Jan. 20

9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lincoln Elementary School

4200 N.W. Daniels St.


Jan. 25

4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Oregon Association of Minority


4134 N. Vancouver Ave.


Jan. 30

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Hayden Island Yacht Club

12050 N. Jantzen Drive

make paradise, tear up a parking lot
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2007, 6:00 PM
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Next I-5 chokepoint: $6 billion
Traffic - A deeply divided task force prepares to vote on a proposal for a big, new bridge over the Columbia
Sunday, February 25, 2007
The decade-long search for a solution to the Portland area's worst traffic chokepoint -- one of the worst along Interstate 5 between Mexico and Canada -- will take an important turn this week.

The 39-member Columbia Crossing Task Force will vote Tuesday on whether to pursue a new $2 billion to $6 billion bridge and transit project to replace the Interstate Bridge as the only solution.

A final decision on what to build, if anything, is still two years away. But the vote will determine what path gets the time, money and resources to move closer to loosening the bridge's grip on commuters, commerce and development.
The task force is deeply divided heading into Tuesday's vote. Pressure is mounting to consider at least one lower-cost alternative that uses the Interstate Bridge's existing twin spans over the Columbia River. Panel members represent a wide spectrum of interests from government, business, neighborhoods and environmental groups.

"This has been a noisy process," said Hal Dengerink, chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver, and task force co-chairman.

The proposal from the task force staff boils down to a choice between committing the region's energy, money and political will to a single megaproject -- "Gargantua, the Bridge," according to one critic -- or doing nothing.

And regional leaders worry that the sheer scale and cost of the project could doom the entire enterprise politically, leaving a clogged, aging, accident-prone bridge in its wake.

Metro President David Bragdon said he doesn't want to narrow the bridge options too quickly. "It would be a fiscal mistake and a political mistake."

The economic consequences of doing nothing are staggering. According to projections, the rush hour will last 16 hours in 2030, leaving a narrow window of travel for freight traffic, which is expected to double. The accident rate -- about a crash a day on the bridge and its ramps -- will get worse, compounding the congestion and safety problems, the task force staff says.

The staff has recommended that three options be explored in the next step, the draft environmental impact study: a "no build" option, a replacement bridge with light rail, and a replacement bridge with a dedicated bus lane. The existing bridges would be removed.
Over the past two years, the task force narrowed the options from 23 river crossings, including bridges and tunnels, and 14 transit alternatives. John Osborn, project director for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said the replacement bridge does the best job of improving congestion, freight traffic, river navigation and safety.

The rough cost estimate breaks down this way: $1 billion to $2 billion each for the bridge, interchanges, and transit. No funding is in place for the project, and it is likely to involve users paying a toll.

Osborn told the Metro Council last week that building another bridge and reusing the existing bridges would not be any cheaper and would not solve the problems on I-5.
Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard is one of the strongest supporters of the staff recommendation. He sees the new bridge as the way to get light rail into his community. And Vancouver-area business groups see the bridge as a necessity.

Supporters worry about wasting more time.

"Spending more public resources to study failed alternatives will not have any other result than to waste taxpayer resources," said Bart Phillips, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, in a letter to the task force. Phillips is a task force member.

Despite Pollard's enthusiasm, the light-rail portion of the project remains a tough sell in Clark County, where voters rejected MAX in 1995.

The Metro Council approved a resolution Thursday directing Councilor Rex Burkholder, its representative on the task force, to support adding a supplemental bridge for local traffic and light rail and keeping the existing bridges for freeway travel.

Many of those who testified at Thursday's Metro hearing bemoaned the emphasis on a highway solution.

These critics say reducing the number of cars using the bridge would be cheaper and more effective. Options such as more transit, HOV lanes and planning that encourages jobs in Southwest Washington, rather than residential sprawl with jobs in Oregon, have not been adequately studied, they say.

The Clark County Commission pushes such a plan.

Only so many cars can be pushed through I-5, even with a new bridge, said Chairman Steve Stuart. The bottleneck will shift south to the Rose Garden area, highway officials concede. The only long-term solutions involve using the existing highway more efficiently, Stuart said.

Metro Councilor Robert Liberty said standards for the project have been set so high that only the huge replacement bridge qualifies. These include a requirement that the bridge be high enough to handle even the tallest ships, and that it be able to withstand an earthquake that might occur in the next 2,500 years.

"That's like earthquake-proofing your house by tearing it down and rebuilding a new one out of concrete 3 feet thick," Liberty said.

Consensus may be elusive, but that shouldn't kill the project, said Matt Garrett, ODOT director.

"Will we ever get to the point where everyone embraces it? No," Garrett said. "But at the end of the day, we have to have a thumbs up, thumbs down vote. We cannot delay this any further. It's too important."

James Mayer: 503-294-4109; jimmayer@news.oregonian.com
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2007, 6:05 PM
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Build a bridge to better economy
Capitalize on Oregon and Washington's connections, and hasten the replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge
Sunday, February 25, 2007
S ome people have found their own way around the chokepoint known as the Interstate 5 bridge. They've selected the "no-drive" option. They try to steer clear -- a strategy that works beautifully if you happen to live in your own private Oregon or Washington.

It doesn't work for anyone else. And it doesn't work for our economy, or for the future. The I-5 bridge is headed for collapse, not just in an earthquake (although that could easily bring it down) but also from the thundering demands of future travel.

By 2030, morning and evening rush hours will almost merge, leaving little more than an hour of free-flowing traffic. By 2020, the bus trip between downtown Vancouver and downtown Portland (a distance of 71/2 miles) will take almost an hour. It will almost be easier to walk. Worse, as bridge paralysis sets in, our freight-related industries increasingly will look to other places to expand -- places willing to invest in transportation improvements.

On Tuesday, the 39-member Columbia River Crossing Task Force will winnow options to replace the bridge. The best choice would be a new 10- or 12-lane bridge, high enough to avoid marine traffic but low enough to avoid airplanes. The new bridge should, of course, be equipped to handle light-rail trains.

Although drivers experience the hospital-green I-5 bridge as one structure, it's actually two bridges, side by side. The 1917 bridge carries three northbound lanes. Its 1958 "twin" carries three southbound lanes. For all the dread this crossing over the Columbia River inspires, it's only 3,531 feet long. If nothing goes wrong, you can cross the bridge in one minute flat. But most days, something goes wrong.

Narrow and poorly designed, without any safety shoulders, the I-5 bridge and its adjacent roadways boast a dismal accident record of 300 crashes a year. Even a minor stall can back up traffic for hours, with expensive repercussions along the I-5 corridor.

Some people want to see the existing bridges kept, even if a new bridge is built, but that isn't practical. The old bridges would require a seismic upgrade and a huge maintenance investment. Plus, they could interfere with the new bridge.

Although replacement costs are daunting, with estimates from $2 billion to $6 billion, federal funds could cover a great deal of the amount. Tolls could cover the local match, just as tolls helped pay for the two existing bridges (5 cents for the 1917 bridge and 20 cents for the 1958 bridge. Both tolls were eventually retired.)

To keep costs down, though, it's essential for a bistate coalition to move forward quickly, capitalizing on the new transportation clout in Congress within the Oregon and Washington delegations. Both are anxious to see the project move forward.

The new bridge could be a model of green engineering, simplicity and sustainability. Although it can't be another Golden Gate exactly, it could be a low-key tourist attraction in its own right, a kind of Emerald Gate for the Pacific Northwest, connecting, symbolizing and inspiring our entire region.

"I think it should make a statement," says Ginger Metcalf, executive director of Identity Clark County. "The bridge that currently exists makes a statement -- of ugliness." Yet even tourists at the Vancouver Convention Center can't avoid seeing the old bridges, since they dominate Vancouver's skyline.

Today, freight haulers and the region's freight-dependent industries can plan their schedules to avoid rush-hour traffic. A few decades hence, that will be impossible. The I-5 bridge will be, for all practical purposes, uncrossable. Freight-dependent industries will choose to expand in regions with swifter, more reliable connections.

It's time -- right now -- to make the connection, not only between Oregon and Washington, but also between this vital bridge and the continued prosperity of the Pacific Northwest.
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2007, 9:24 PM
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^ Well said - just make sure it also carries LRT.
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Old Posted Feb 25, 2007, 10:59 PM
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Emerald Gate bridge!!

That's an awesome name

If they're going artsy and we can't avoid them doing that, they oughta pay homage to the area in the design, like maybe something with a mountain motif
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Old Posted Feb 26, 2007, 3:58 AM
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I'd love to see a state of the art suspension bridge over the Columbia, but it won't happen in the flight path. There are height limits in this area.
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Old Posted Feb 26, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Emerald Gate Bridge... I smell some of unqiue design inside those workers's mind.

I feel something funny about this, if two exist bridges get in construction, then it will be the worst traffic on SR-14 and I-205 (include the bridge) till the Interstate Bridges get constructed. It would be very nice to have a first time 10-12 lanes in Vancouver WA.

Would love to see what "Emerald Gate Bridges" look like!
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Old Posted Feb 26, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Columbia River Crossing Task Force I-5 bridge project must span political, logistical divides

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Building a new bridge across the Columbia River isn't for the faint of heart.

We're only talking, after all, about one of the busiest intersections in America, a place where airplanes, major highways, trains and one of the continent's longest navigable rivers all come within a few hundred yards of one other.

Build a new bridge? That's easy. Just make sure it's high enough for tugboats, low enough for airplanes and wide enough for plenty of trucks and the next generation of commuters. While you're at it, make it an architectural masterpiece and try to keep the price tag under, say, $6 billion, OK?

OK, maybe it's not so easy.

"This is a project the size of which this region has not seen," said Franklin Green, assistant design engineer on the project. "It's a great opportunity as an engineer to be able to work on it."

In some ways, engineering might be the simplest part of this process. Trickier will be the political calculus needed to balance the desires of the 39 different interests that make up the Columbia River Crossing task force, including private companies, environmental groups, truckers, shippers, commuters and state, regional, county and city governments.

The political pressures are quite public. Everyone has a stake and everyone has an opinion. But everyone also wants to see something done.

"All of us are going to have to give something," said Mayor Royce Pollard, Vancouver's representative on the task force. "It's the economic future of our region. We need something we can lay out on the table for the public."

Technical issues

Engineers are trained to solve technical problems, and the new bridge offers the chance to do exactly that. They face serious challenges over major design features, any one of which could, if not worked out just right, kill the whole deal.

Take, for example, how a new bridge would handle Columbia River shipping.

One of the primary reasons for building a new bridge in the first place is to get rid of the lift span, which delays freeway traffic every time it's raised. It's the easiest for shipping because of its height - 180 feet of vertical clearance when open - and because it lines up with the swing span on the BNSF Railway bridge a mile downstream.

But that lift span on the Washington end of the bridge is only one of three primary shipping channels. Closer to midstream is what's known as the barge channel, with a 531-foot-wide, 60-foot-high span. The next span south is called the high span because of its 70-foot vertical clearance at the top of the bridge hump. Tugs and barges use the barge channel or high span whenever they can, only requesting a bridge lift when necessary.

But it's not an easy process. Ships that bypass the lift-span channel have to move quickly toward the river's north side to align with the railroad bridge. It's a tricky maneuver requiring deft handling, especially when the river runs fast.

Taking out the old bridge would mean removing its nine old piers and replacing them with a larger bridge with five or six. That would make navigation a little safer and provide one high, wide span that would accommodate nearly all shipping without a lift span.

Right now, Green said, upwards of 90 percent of the shipping using the lift span need no more than 75 feet of clearance. Rarely, he said, something comes through that needs 120 feet of clearance or more, usually a piece of scaffolding or a construction tower. But those come through only once every year or two.

As a result, the working scenario for the new bridge calls for a 300-foot-wide underpass for ships with a vertical clearance of 95 feet when the water level is zero. It would be located near the north shore, lining it up with the swing span at the railroad bridge downstream.

"We believe it's going to be a better scenario than we have today," Green said. "Under all circumstances, under all water levels, the barges and tugs would be able to use the same channel and wouldn't have to make that complicated maneuver."

Practical, not pretty

All these practical demands won't leave much room for architectural adornments on the bridge. A plain, mid-level bridge is in the works, something closer in design to the Interstate 205 Bridge than the Golden Gate Bridge. Recently, for example, the task force received a suggestion that the bridge design echo the twin spires of the Oregon Convention Center, an engaging but impractical idea considering the proximity of airplanes using Pearson Field.

If shipping means the bridge can't be too low, then aviation means it can't be too high.

The runway at Pearson Field is only a few hundred feet east of the existing bridge, and the approach takes planes directly over where the bridge meets land on the Washington side. Even now, the 230-foot towers at the I-5 Bridge's north end intrude on the airport's airspace.

Green is aware of no serious encounters between the planes and the towers, but the design of the new bridge can't intrude into the airspace, said Sean Loughran, Pearson Field manager.

It shouldn't, at least not under a possible bridge profile being worked out by the Crossing staff. One alignment shows the bridge roadbed crossing into Washington about 32 to 43 feet above the BNSF tracks. Signs and lighting would extend above that level, but should still provide enough clearance for planes either landing or taking off.

One uncertainty in understanding the aviation issues involves not the vertical clearance but its horizontal alignment. One option, building a new bridge immediately upstream of the existing bridge, brings the new structure a few hundred feet closer to the end of the runway and creates more potential for conflict than a downstream alignment. But Green said both create safe landing and takeoff patterns.

"In spite of the limitations," said Loughran, "there's enough room there in the middle to come up with a project that works."

The Columbia River Crossing task force is about to hold the most important meeting of its two-year bureaucratic life.

The 39-member group Tuesday may narrow the wide range of options for a new way across the Columbia River down to just three. Actually, there would be only two, because the law requires one alternative that suggests doing nothing.

That narrowing will come in a vote to begin work on a draft environmental impact statement for a big new bridge. The Crossing staff is recommending scrapping the old Interstate 5 Bridge and replacing it with a bigger bridge with extra room for traffic - as well as either light rail or bus rapid transit. If the task force takes that step, it will officially dismiss 23 configurations of new and old bridges, including a tunnel, and 14 mass-transit methods, including monorail, maglev rail, ferries, high-speed rail, streetcars and automated people movers, that were all at various times under consideration.

The Crossing staff is recommending the task force include three alternatives for study in the draft EIS. They are:

- No build. This alternative is included in all projects built with federal money as a way to compare action with inaction.

- Replace the old bridge with a new one with bus rapid transit.

- Replace the old bridge with a new one with light rail.

The meeting will be Tuesday at the Oregon Department of Transportation offices in Portland.

But don't expect that staff recommendation to win quiet or quick approval. Rex Burkholder, the Metro Council's representative on the task force, won council approval last week to ask that a third bridge, while keeping the old bridge, be added to the draft EIS study. Burkholder only carries has one of the 39 votes, but Metro's voice carries extra weight because of its long history in transportation planning and because it distributes federal transportation money around the Portland area.

No fewer than seven task force members or their representatives appeared before the Metro Council last week, some in support of the staff recommendation but some opposed. Other suggestions for adding to the draft EIS seem likely to surface during Tuesday's meeting.

Advocates for keeping the old bridge and building a new one upstream or downstream have been particularly vocal, as have supporters of bus rapid transit, who fear that concept is getting short shrift despite its apparent inclusion in the draft EIS.

But the governors of Oregon and Washington empaneled the Crossing project, and its members seemed determined to keep the process moving forward.

After launching the draft EIS, whatever its final incarnation, the bulk of the complicated work will be carried out by the Crossing staff, which at times numbers up to 50, augmented by consultants. When it's done, perhaps 30 percent of the final engineering could be compete, said Franklin Green one of the bridge engineers.

And once the draft EIS is under way, the 39-member task force won't be needed as often. At least not for a while. After Tuesday, the group has only four more meetings scheduled through the rest of 2007, mostly for progress reports. A preliminary schedule calls for reviewing the EIS in the spring of 2008 and reaching a decision on what's called the locally preferred alternative - the final decision, in other words - by June 2008.



The Columbia River Crossing staff is recommending a new Interstate 5 bridge with either light rail or bus rapid transit.

What's new:

The Metro Council representative will ask to include other options in the draft environmental impact statement.

The 39-member Columbia River Crossing task force meets in Portland on Tuesday night to vote on the draft EIS. Why not just build a third bridge?

That wouldn't solve the problems, the crossing task force decided. A new upriver or downriver bridge wouldn't fix the Interstate 5 Bridge lift span that clogs I-5; wouldn't upgrade the aging, seismically vulnerable bridges; could mean a new highway through Vancouver and Portland neighborhoods; and could make an already complicated river navigation process even more difficult.

Why not keep the old bridges?

Using them not for an freeway but as arterials would create new traffic problems for downtown Vancouver and Hayden Island. Seismic upgrades to the old bridges would be very expensive. The lift span would still disrupt traffic, confounding its use for mass transit. And navigation problems would remain.

What would happen to the old bridges?

No one knows. Most likely, both the northbound span, which opened in 1917, and the southbound span, opened in 1958, would be sold for scrap. But someone could always buy one, like that guy who bought the London Bridge in 1968 and rebuilt it in Arizona.

Why not a tunnel?

A tunnel would have to burrow so deeply under the silt and sand that it would miss Hayden Island, Highway 14 and downtown Vancouver altogether. That means they'd be cut off from I-5 or served only by a complicated and expensive series of underground interchanges.

Will there be bicycle and pedestrian access?

There will be room for bikes and pedestrians, though exactly how hasn't been decided. That will be part of the planning during the draft environmental impact statement process.

What's a draft environmental impact statement?

Federal law requires an environmental impact statement for projects that may have an impact on their surroundings. Projects and likely alternatives undergo a rigorous analysis, which leads to a draft environmental impact statement, a final environmental impact statement and, finally, selection of a "locally preferred alternative." The project then can go to Congress and ask for money.

Why is the task force so big?

Because Interstate 5 affects so many interests. The task force includes transit agencies, ports, trucking companies, tugboat operators, business interests, environmental organizations, a union and no fewer than 12 governments, counting cities, counties and the two states.

What will it cost?

There are no formal estimates yet, but somewhere between $2 billion to $6 billion is possible.

What would a new bridge look like?

Don't expect the Golden Gate Bridge. The design will be tricky because of the needs of shipping and aviation. So something practical if pleasant is more likely than an architectural marvel.

Why such a wide range on the cost estimate?

Mostly because highway interchanges are spendy. Thoroughly smoothing out the Marine Drive interchange in Portland, for example, would be far more expensive than more modest changes to its configuration today. The whole project could involve 50 bridges, counting onramps and offramps. So the final cost depends a lot on things not directly involving the bridge itself.

Who will pay?

Everyone. The process isn't complicated: Get the Oregon and Washington congressional delegations on board, get as much as possible from the feds, and get what's left from some combination of state and local sources.

Will it be easy to get funding?

No. It can't hurt that the Northwest now has more transportation clout in Congress. Washington's Sen. Patty Murray is now chairwoman of the Senate's Appropriations subcommittee on transportation and Oregon's Peter DeFazio is chairman of a House transit and highways subcommittee. But Congress has vowed to budget on a pay-as-you-go basis, and there's not a lot of spare federal money these days.

Will it involve new taxes?

Unsure. No decisions have been made.

Will there be tolls?

Perhaps. There's been a lot of talk about tolls among the Crossing staff. Nothing is certain, but tolling is being considered along with more traditional sources of money. All the Columbia River bridges in this region - the Interstate 205 Bridge is the exception - were paid for with tolls that were eventually removed.

Will there be a vote on the bridge?

Maybe, but nothing's certain. The public rarely gets to vote on highway projects unless new taxes are involved. So it depends on the funding mechanisms. A new tax to pay a local share of the project could mean a vote. In 1995, Clark County voters cast ballots on a sales tax increase that would have paid for light rail. But Portland's light rail lines to the airport and through North Portland were built without a public vote, as is the new Clackamas County line just getting started.

- Don Hamilton

Don Hamilton can be reached at 360-759-8010 and

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Old Posted Feb 26, 2007, 11:05 PM
mcbaby mcbaby is offline
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oh for the love of frank.. the more they wait and bicker, the more $$ it's going to cost.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 1:07 AM
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A plain, mid-level bridge is in the works, something closer in design to the Interstate 205 Bridge than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Is this a joke?

I am praying to the gods that Metro is able to use its sway to send this mega-bridge project to the dustbin with the Mt Hood Freeway where it belongs. This will be a 10-to-12-lane disaster that will spawn major problems for Future Portland, assuming that we have a future worth caring about.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 1:11 AM
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Who/what uses Pearson Field? Could this airport be closed and redeveloped since PDX is so close?
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 1:41 AM
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Most private and hobby flyers use pearson field, it's pretty busy...

Also, it's historic or somethin'
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 2:28 AM
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Wikipedia has Pearson as the oldest operating airfield in America. I had no idea, I knew it was historic and all, but the oldest in operation?
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 2:49 AM
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Originally Posted by tworivers View Post
Is this a joke?

I am praying to the gods that Metro is able to use its sway to send this mega-bridge project to the dustbin with the Mt Hood Freeway where it belongs. This will be a 10-to-12-lane disaster that will spawn major problems for Future Portland, assuming that we have a future worth caring about.
Unfortunately I doubt this is a joke. The development interests in Vantucky have a lot riding on a new bridge and maybe more so the new interchanges. They want to spend a bunch of money improving the Delta Park interchanges not for the benefit of local residents, but so those folks living in cheapy houses up north of Battleground can zoom past Delta Park and North Portland on their way to work in downtown Portland.

Your Mt Hood Freeway analogy is fitting, same interests at work. Like I said before you could build 15,000-20,000 new houses or condos in Portland for the price of this freeway project. Which one would reduce traffic congestion more in the long term ?

I've always felt like Vancouver was sort of a parasite on Portland reaping all the benefits that we've built here on the Oregon side while having a development free for all on the Washington side. This bridge and highway proposal just reaffirms that in my mind.

I'm sure UrbanPDX will jump in here any minute to tell us why we all need to pay for new freeways so those folks up in La Center can have their property rights or whatever ...

Sorry for the angry rant it's just the more I think about this project the more it seems like a boondoggle with money that could be spent better else ware such as burying I5 on the east side of the Willamette.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 3:06 AM
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tworivers tworivers is offline
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edgepdx, I was going to say the same thing earlier.
Bury I-5 first, and give us back our eastbank.

The idea that we're going to transfer the Columbia bottleneck to the Rose Quarter, while throwing away billions of transportation dollars, is ridiculous. What next? Widening I-5 through N PDX? Not a chance. Vancouver has indeed allowed unchecked sprawl to run rampant up there for years. They, not Portland, need to feel the consequences of that. I support building the "third option", an arterial bridge (with MAX) downriver from the existing bridges, which would then receive a major upgrade, and tolls, instead of demolition. People need to realize the true cost of driving asap.

Portlandtransport.com is focused on the issue all day today in anticipation of the big meeting tomorrow. Highly recommended for a critical perspective.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 5:08 AM
Drmyeyes Drmyeyes is offline
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tworivers...damn, the scene in that top picture is gruesome. The Feb 25 Don Hamilton article raises valid concerns about the inadequate shipping channels that exist with the old bridges, but otherwise, I'm finding it hard to be supportive of the bridge proposals so far.

I'm not that sure about a lot of general details associated with this traffic point, but this project definitely seems to raise the question, 'what is the intended purpose of this bridge?'. What volume of traffic across this traffic point do we wish to promote? You can tell that planners most closely related to studying the bridge proposal aren't thinking about a configuration that would stabilize or reduce present traffic volume, but rather, accomodate anticipated increased traffic volume.

At this point, I'd definitely lean to light rail or/and rapid bus lanes and to the idea of paying for it with a toll. And, carefully examining what much of the present and future traffic volume represents would make a lot of sense.

If it were possible to definitively identify a tangible percentage of that volume using the bridges purely for the purpose of commuting back and forth from state to state, job to home, a significant portion of that volume might be able to be reduced by more of a focus on residence/employment arrangements that wouldn't require this particular commute. Just dreaming on the keyboard, but...

Incidentally, any who haven't should seriously check out Pearson. It has a nice little museum and a quaint old timey airshow in the summer. It is historic. As usual, vague on details, but way, way back russian gonzo flyboys made a historic transpolar flight and made their landing at Pearson. Flew a beautiful long wingspan monoplane you can see pics of there.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 6:12 AM
zilfondel zilfondel is offline
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You know, Phoenix is going to expand I-10 to 22 lanes; we - as the transportation leaders of the nation - need to outdo them and get I-5 up to 24 lanes from the Rose Garden all the way to Vancouver! That would be so great! Just think of all the black people we could kick out of NoPo... and perhaps we could put in some nice freeway exits to drop people right down onto the trendy Alberta st and Mississippi Ave! Wow... /end sarcasm

I'm sure that something akin to earthquake-proofing the existing I-5 bridge (which is otherwise completely structurally sound), adding a new non-freeway bridge from Hayden Island to Vancouver with bicycle and MAX, and a new triple-tracked railbridge that actually lines up with the existing I-5 bridge's lift span is just TOO crazy of an idea. Good thing they aren't, you know, considering it as an alternative.

Last edited by zilfondel; Feb 27, 2007 at 6:20 AM.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 6:49 AM
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I'm not sure if i like where this project is heading...it seems to me like this is only benefiting the people who live in vancouver while portland is getting dumped with the cost and fallout of this entire thing. The only thing i worry about with traffic continuing to get worse is the freight issue. I could care less about people sitting in rush hour traffic but i don't want to choke out the economy by limiting the movement of goods.
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 7:28 AM
bvpcvm bvpcvm is offline
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Originally Posted by zilfondel View Post
You know, Phoenix is going to expand I-10 to 22 lanes; we - as the transportation leaders of the nation - need to outdo them and get I-5 up to 24 lanes from the Rose Garden all the way to Vancouver! That would be so great! Just think of all the black people we could kick out of NoPo... and perhaps we could put in some nice freeway exits to drop people right down onto the trendy Alberta st and Mississippi Ave! Wow... /end sarcasm
Dude, you're not thinking big enough: what about those 1/4-mile *wide* superfreeways they're planning in Texas? Ram one of those down through North Portland, now THAT would really get of the poor people!
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Old Posted Feb 27, 2007, 10:55 AM
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65MAX 65MAX is offline
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Originally Posted by zilfondel View Post
I'm sure that something akin to earthquake-proofing the existing I-5 bridge (which is otherwise completely structurally sound), adding a new non-freeway bridge from Hayden Island to Vancouver with bicycle and MAX, and a new triple-tracked railbridge that actually lines up with the existing I-5 bridge's lift span is just TOO crazy of an idea. Good thing they aren't, you know, considering it as an alternative.
Currently, the lift span of the rail bridge is mid-channel while the I-5 liftspans are closer to the north bank, forcing zigzag maneuvers for the river pilots. Since the I-5 bridges ARE structurally sound (as Z said) and the rail bridge is likely close to its end-of-life, it makes sense to replace the rail bridge.

This is exactly what SHOULD be done. Align the lift spans of a new multi-modal bridge with the existing I-5 lift spans. Reroute all local truck and rail freight traffic coming to and from the port facilities to the new bridge. Add a third feight rail for added capacity. Add light rail. Add access to Hayden Island for local automobile traffic. Add bike lanes and a walkway. Voila, problems solved.

In the meantime, they could start seismically upgrading the twin bridges. No widening of the freeway to 12 lanes, no rebuilding of interchanges, no shifting of bottlenecks further south. The lack of shoulders on the bridge can be mitigated with tow trucks stationed at both ends for immediate response to breakdowns. Bridge lifts are already prohibited during rush hours, and reader boards north and south can notify interstate through traffic of upcoming lifts in time to detour to I-205.
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