All Politics is Local

Oregon still wants to replace the I-5 bridge, but not for a while

It looks like Oregon hasn’t completely forgotten about replacing the Interstate 5 bridge after all, but isn’t in a rush to do anything about it.

As first reported by Willamette Week, the Oregon Department of Transportation has submitted a list of projects to the Metro regional government that includes $3.2 billion to “replace the I-5/Columbia River bridges and improve interchanges on I-5.” The project includes added buffered protections for bikeways as well as “cycletracks and a new trail/multiusepath or extension.”

Efforts to replace the congested and aging bridge have stalled since 2013 when the Columbia River Crossing died in the Washington Legislature. Oregon unsuccessfully attempted to move forward with the project in 2014.

Washington has created a bi-state committee to begin talks about replacing the bridge and it held its first meeting in December. However, Oregon officials have yet to appoint any members to it.

It may be encouraging to proponents of replacing the bridge that ODOT is considering the project, but the time frame on the list isn’t until 2028-2040.

State Sen. Lynda Wilson, a Vancouver Republican who has been involved with efforts to replace the bridge, said in a text that she “can’t imagine how bad the congestion will be in 2028-2040.”

“I really hope they will be willing to move up that timeline though,” Wilson said. “The matter needs to be addressed now.”

State Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, said in a text, “Just because the project did not go forward does not take it off the list. Both states would still have it on the list of needs.”

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