Join us in person
Thursday, June 1 @ 7 - 9:30 am
301 West 6th Street, Vancouver, WA
The Columbian's 35th Annual Economic Forecast Breakfast, presented by Riverview Bank, is the premier regional forecast for Southwest Washington business and civic leaders. The 2023 Breakfast will offer an enhanced opportunity for networking with peers and decision makers prior to an engaging interactive discussion with industry leaders.
This year's theme is the Interstate Bridge Replacement Project and its significant impact on the local and regional economy. William Seekamp, our Transportation Reporter will lead a panel discussion with local and regional leaders who will share how this bridge will shape our future. Washington State Economist, Scott Bailey, will provide a 6 month review and 6 month forecast of our labor outlook followed by a special keynote address from a nationally renowned expert in infrustructure and its impact on local economies.
HOW TRANSPORTATION WILL SHAPE OUR ECONOMY FOR A GENERATION
Columbian Editor, Innovation Editor
There’s one reoccurring thing that people ask whenever we’re trying to predict the future economy every year. It’s perhaps the most discussed thing in Vancouver, and everyone has an opinion on it: The new Interstate 5 Bridge.
The bridge is going to influence everything in Vancouver and Clark County, and in the past year, our dedicated transportation reporter William Seekamp has been dedicated to writing about the project. The Columbian is writing more stories about the bridge project than ever, and we still have a lot to learn. How will the local labor force change once the bridge is built? How will Downtown Vancouver customer behavior change because of tolls or light rail? Who will benefit? Who will suffer?
These unanswered questions are why the Interstate 5 Bridge will be the topic of this year’s Economic Forecast Breakfast. We’ll explore how the bridge is going to affect the local economy during and after construction – 5 to 10 years ahead.
The Economic Forecast Breakfast is in its 36th year, and we’re changing things up. After attending this event, we know you’ll walk away with a clearer picture of how the bridge will change our future.
Moderator, Transportation Reporter
When it opened in 1917, the bridge linking Portland and Vancouver was a flat, single-span shuffling automobiles, streetcars and pedestrians over the mighty Columbia River. Behind the wheels of dark-hued Model T’s and Chevrolet roadsters, drivers made their way north and south, plunking down a nickel to cross the bridge. Trucks hauling livestock were common.
Through it all, the bridge has served as a lifeline, a vital artery linking two states and two interdependent cities and makes possible a thoroughfare from Mexico to Canada.
In the more than 40 years between the opening of the first and second span in 1958, the region’s population has doubled. Since then, it has tripled. Today, morning congestion backs up I-5 nearly to Hazel Dell, eastbound Mill Plain Boulevard merging onto I-5 experiences a blockade of semi-trucks and cars and vehicles on westbound Highway 14 snake back nearly to Grand Central. And of course, the traffic returning north is even worse.
At the Columbia River, I-5 provides a critical economic connection to two major ports, deepwater shipping, upriver barging, two transcontinental rail lines, and much of the region’s industrial land. But arguably the biggest impact a replacement bridge will have is on Clark County’s most important export: Labor, with more than 65,000 Clark County residents traveling into Portland each day for work.
The replacement project isn’t without controversy. Tolling and light rail remain a topic of hot debate. Not all people today realize tolling was used on the Interstate Bridge twice to fund the construction of both spans, and a streetcar into Vancouver operated until 1940—today the tracks remain, buried under a layer of concrete on the I-5 Bridge’s north span.
Whether you commute into Portland or not, the bridge affects us all.
Administrator, Interstate Bridge Replacement Project
City Manager, City of Vancouver
President, Thompson Metal Fab
Panelist, Regional Economist at Washington State Employment Security Department
Director of Economic Development for Port of Vancouver
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