The Big Divide
Gov. Jay Inslee's recent visit to Vancouver sent a clear message that Clark County's views about the Columbia River Crossing are an important part of the regional debate over the $3.4 billion plan to replace the Interstate 5 bridge with a new highway and light rail structure. As the shouting is rising on both sides of the debate, the governor told local supporers to get louder.
Clark County residents are deeply divided on the Columbia River Crossing, with neither supporters nor opponents claiming a clear majority of public opinion, according to a scientific poll commissioned by The Columbian this month.
Clark County's political and business leaders who've steered the county's growth strategy for decades are under fire by critics girding to capsize their priorities. Most business and civic groups, as well as local governments, see a new Interstate 5 bridge as a main ingredient of Clark County's future prosperity. But their critics aim to sink the proposed CRC, in part because the $3.4 billion Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project will bring light rail into Clark County. If they're successful, CRC opponents will tear into the very fabric of the leadership elite's sense of what the county needs to thrive.
While the collapse of a four-lane Interstate 5 bridge into the Skagit River on Thursday fanned the flames on the debate over the Columbia River Crossing, it doesn’t appear to have changed opponents’ minds.
Attorney for plaintiffs argues city council has no authority to reject initiative
Congresswoman's provision advises agency to consider project's economic impacts
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler moved legislation on Wednesday cautioning the U.S. Coast Guard to think twice about granting a permit for a new Columbia River bridge if it restricts river traffic.
Local transit agency waits for verdict in Legislature
Citing several unanswered questions about the Columbia River Crossing project, the C-Tran board decided Tuesday evening to put off a decision about whether it should reaffirm its commitment to the controversial project.
Governor still battling to get state to pay $450 million share
It's all or nothing, Gov. Jay Inslee indicated Monday in the battle to get $450 million for the Columbia River Crossing project.
Says no need for planning funds without construction money
Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a transportation budget that puts money toward maintaining state roadways and continues spending on existing big-ticket projects, but he vetoed several sections, including one that would have spent $81 million in planning money for a replacement bridge carrying Interstate 5 over the Columbia River.
The Columbia River Crossing appears close to a mitigation agreement with two of the three major river manufacturers affected by the project, after Greenberry Industrial announced Monday that it was nearing a deal.
A series of maintenance lifts will cause delays on the northbound side of the Interstate 5 Bridge late Thursday and early Friday, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Its role in project unclear, agency seeks answers on points of dispute
As it evaluates its role in the Columbia River Crossing project, the C-Tran Board of Directors on Tuesday walked through a series of disputed questions in a meeting with top project officials.
A car fire reported on Interstate 5 southbound, just north of the bridge, clogged traffic.
A set of documents provided by the Columbia River Crossing with reports, expenditures, etc.
- Cash for high-speed rail hightails it to Washington
- Longview editorial calls for action on new I-5 bridge
- 20 Oregon lawmakers sign letter calling for pause on CRC project
- On the CRC Mega-Project: Differing Visions, Shared Sense
- National transportation blog calls CRC a "Highway Boondoggle in Disguise"
- A 10-minute animated critique of the Columbia River Crossing
On Feb. 14, a headline in the Vancouver Daily Columbian heralds the opening of a new bridge across the Columbia River at Vancouver: “With iron bands we clasp hands,” replacing ferry service in place since 1870. Plans for the bridge took root in 1905, when the world’s fair in Portland caused massive traffic jams of people waiting for the steam ferry. The bridge, which cost $941,000, opened with a toll of 5 cents. The tolls generated money for repaying construction bonds, but about half the revenue was used to improve public roads elsewhere. The toll ended in 1928. The original span carries northbound traffic on what is today Interstate 5.
The second span, a twin to the first drawbridge, opens on July 1 at a cost of $14.5 million. Original span taken out of service until January of 1960 while workers replace one portion of the span and raise it by 30 feet to match the “hump” in the new bridge, which allows more boats to pass without having to block auto traffic for bridge lifts. Both bridges reopen in 1960 with a toll of 20 cents for cars and 60 cents for trucks. Toll ends on Nov. 1, 1966.
The federal government underwrites the bulk of the $175 million cost of the toll-free Glenn Jackson Bridge, which opens after five years of construction on Dec. 15, 1982. Washington’s portion of I-205, just under 10 miles, opened in 1976. The bridge opening corresponds to Oregon finishing its 36-mile stretch of the beltway looping around the east side of the Portland metro area.
Growing traffic congestion prompts Washington and Oregon transportation agencies to examine I-5 trade corridor from the freeway’s interchange with Interstate 84 in Portland to I-205 in Salmon Creek. Study concludes that highway, transit, freight and passenger rail improvements will be needed to maintain the region’s economic competitiveness. The most economically significant portion of the corridor straddles the Columbia River, where the bulk of the metro area’s industrial land base and shipping centers are clustered. In 2002, a bistate task force prioritizes fixing three bottlenecks in the corridor: Expanding I-5 to three lanes through Salmon Creek (finished in 2006); fixing Delta Park bottleneck in Portland (finished in 2010); and improving I-5 at the river.
A new 39-member bistate task force narrows potential improvements to variations of a supplemental or replacement bridge with light rail or a bus rapid transit system. In late June and July, six project sponsors conditionally endorse a “locally preferred alternative” consisting of a replacement bridge with an extension of Portland’s light rail transit system. Local sponsors include the Vancouver and Portland city councils, the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, the Metro regional government in the Portland area, C-Tran and TriMet.
Criticism mounts over details of design, funding and scope of $3.6 billion project. Govs. Chris Gregoire and Ted Kulongoski respond by appointing an independent review team, followed by a Bridge Expert Review Panel to address specific concerns about the 10-lane river crossing’s cost, durability and “underwhelming” appearance from Vancouver’s revitalizing downtown.