County council already eyeing third, fourth bridges
With efforts to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge barely off the ground, the Clark County Council is already looking ahead to additional bridges across the mighty Columbia River.
At its Nov. 2 meeting, the council is likely to pass a resolution in support of a third and a fourth bridge crossing between Clark County and Oregon.
The council said the resolution is needed to prompt project partners, such as the Oregon Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Transportation, to “make meaningful steps” toward planning for construction.
Although a primary goal in replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge is to reduce traffic congestion between Clark County and the Portland metro area, the bridge by itself likely won’t be enough, the council said.
According to a 2008 Regional Transportation Council “Visioning Study,” added capacity from additional bridge corridors will be needed to offset the county’s growing population. The study placed the highest demand areas between west Vancouver and the St. Johns neighborhood in Portland, and between the east Vancouver/Camas area and the Gresham/Troutdale communities in Oregon.
But those may not be the right spots for additional bridges now.
“(The study) needs to be updated at this point in time. There were maps made of the additional corridors that would be logical back then,” Councilor Karen Bowerman said during council time on Oct. 27. “What they are to be now might be different,” especially with new roads, construction and other changes built in Clark County since the study was done.
Councilor Temple Lentz also said the study didn’t take changes to the county’s Growth Management Plan into account either.
“The findings of that 2008 study were never incorporated into any of the jurisdictions,” Lentz added.
Despite the needed changes, the council is moving ahead with the resolution to get the bridge ball rolling.
“We’re not engineers, and we don’t know what Oregon is going to agree to, ultimately. But as a political body we should speak up,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said.
Medvigy noted none of the planning work should exclude other options, such as tunnels or ferries, in other corridors. He also said active planning for additional travel corridors by both states, as well as the state and federal government would “satisfy a great portion of the public concerned about congestion today.”
The resolution asks all jurisdictions in the county to “integrate the additional bridge corridors into all comprehensive plans and relevant Clark County long-term transportation planning maps in the metropolitan area, including a tie-in with the Clark County Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan update.”
For more information on the resolution, go to https://clark.wa.gov/councilors/clark-county-council-meetings.
— Shari Phiel