Why does the Columbia River Crossing have to be a high bridge? Why can’t it be opened for high vessels? The oft-made statement that traffic should not have to stop for a bridge lift because it is on Interstate 5, a freeway that extends from Mexico to Canada, makes no sense, especially when fixing the downstream railroad bridge could eliminate most of these lifts.
On the East Coast, Interstate 95 is the primary north-south freeway extending from Miami to the Canadian border with Maine and Interstate 495 is the Beltway around Washington, D.C. The recently rebuilt Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge serves both of these freeways and carries 200,000 vehicles a day. It is made up of two parallel six-lane bridges with draw-spans. These bridges provide 70 feet of clearance over the Potomac River, similar to the clearance provided at the “hump” of the existing interstate bridges, but with draw-spans for the occasional tall ship.
If draw-span freeway bridges are good enough for our nation’s capital, why aren’t they good enough for Vancouver, Washington?