Letter: Rep. Orcutt: Plan for bridges now

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Renewed efforts to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge have produced a fair amount of media coverage recently. But a combination of assumptions and misunderstandings have inaccurately portrayed my stance on this critical issue.

To set the record straight, the I-5 Bridge must be replaced. It does not adequately serve the nearly 2.5 million residents of the Vancouver-Portland metro area.

But merely replacing the bridge will not eliminate our gridlock.

Estimates say that replacing the I-5 Bridge would save southbound morning commuters about one minute in traffic assuming no crashes or obstructions in the roadway. You read that correctly — one minute.

Replacing the I-5 Bridge without constructing an additional bridge is unproductive and fiscally irresponsible. We must create a plan to do both.

When Senate Bill 5806 was adopted earlier this year, I voted “no” because it did not clearly require that a third bridge be part of the solution.

With major transportation funding packages only being adopted every 10 years, and our most recent funding package only two years underway, simply replacing the I-5 Bridge could easily push congestion relief out 18 years or more. We should be planning both projects together — and now.