Another bridge advisory vote?

Commissioner David Madore appears dedicated to building an interstate “East County Bridge,” extending from Vancouver over Government Island to Oregon on the other side of the Columbia River. Fellow APIL contributor Eric Florip and I detailed the challenges of such an undertaking in a March story, in which we pointed out that the project would take buy-in from a broad group of jurisdictions, most of which were unaware the idea was even being floated.

The group includes the city of Vancouver, where the bridge’s proposed landing point in Washington — Southeast 192nd Avenue — is located. The location of the road came as a surprise to Madore, the bridge’s chief backer, who said he believed the road cut through Camas. (He later blamed Google Maps for the confusion.) Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said he wasn’t keen on discussing the bridge proposal with the commissioner. Madore hasn’t addressed how he plans to circumvent that hurdle.

This week, Madore took to Facebook to explain how the project is moving forward and what will happen in the future. He even channels camouflage-hat-bedecked philosopher king of the trailer park Larry the Cable Guy to make his point.

A team of engineers has been working on the design. And a final quote for the complete bridge should be in our hands by August. The price will be guaranteed to eliminate any possibility of a cost overrun.

We know what a bureaucracy with $200 million and a dozen years cannot do. It is refreshing to see what the private sector can do in months, at zero cost. They will deliver a complete design for a ready to build toll-free bridge that includes everything, start-to-finish, with a guaranteed price under $900 million.

You said yes to step one. Step two is a yes or no advisory vote for the real deal in November. If you say no, then no hard feelings, we walk away and it’s dead. If you say yes, and our legislatures say yes, then it’s full speed ahead to get ‘er done.

Our legislature has their work cut out. We will need a transportation funding package and WSDOT reforms next year.

So, voters can expect another advisory vote — read: nonbinding — on “the real deal” in November. It’s unclear whether such a vote would carry much sway with state legislators, though, seeing as how building a cross-state bridge at the Vancouver/Camas border doesn’t address many of the most severe interstate commuter concerns. However, a 2008 transportation study did find that an east-county river crossing would provide significant congestion relief on the I-205 corridor.

The post has generated a number of comments from people curious about, ya know, details. That’s because Madore has been tight-lipped about who the bridge engineers are, how they’re being paid and which jurisdictions he’s talked to.

I don’t know that Oregon law will allow them to accept a bid from a single company. More than likely they would require a second design/bid to ensure that the price is competitive,” writes Christopher Laurence, in a comment to Madore’s post. “There is also the unanswered question as to whether the roads on the Portland side can handle the additional traffic that a bridge at this location would produce … hopefully the traffic analysis is part of the design/engineering process.”

Madore said he’s talked to “the most affected parties” in Oregon about the project, but “not enough yet.”

He previously said the toll-free bridge could be up and running in five years. The clock is ticking. Get ‘er done.

Tyler Graf

Tyler Graf

I started working for The Columbian in 2012 and currently cover Clark County. I'm a 2007 graduate of The University of Oregon. Contact me at

Scroll to top