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News / Clark County News

Review endorses a new I-5 bridge

The Columbian
Published: July 30, 2010, 12:00am

A new Interstate 5 bridge should be in place “at the earliest possible date,” according to an independent review of the proposed Columbia River Crossing.

Read the Independent Review Panel’s full report .

Casting a long shadow: Potential effects of a new I-5 bridge on downtown Vancouver have some experts riled.

However, the third-party review submitted this week to Govs. Chris Gregoire and Ted Kulongoski also concluded that crossing planners need to hone their cost estimates and rethink the adequacy of the 10-lane bridge planners are proposing.

Read the Independent Review Panel's full report .

The new bridge, they implied, may risk being too small.

“The IRP (Independent Review Panel) believes the greatest risk in the decision-making process is not oversizing the bridges but not building enough capacity for the next 100 years,” according to the report.

The report is the culmination of a three-month process that began in April, after Vancouver and Portland elected officials complained that the project presented “unacceptable impacts” as currently designed and financed. The review was expected to cost $750,000.

“The IRP is unanimous in assessing that the Columbia River Crossing Project (CRC) must move forward with a new crossing to be built at the earliest possible date,” panel chairman Tom Warne wrote in a letter to the Washington and Oregon governors.

The governors called a new Interstate 5 bridge “critical” to the region’s economy and immediately directed state transportation departments to address a series of 30 recommendations.

“As our two states work to implement these next steps, we must create greater certainty around the cost to ensure that we not only have a workable design but that this bridge is affordable,” Kulongoski said in a prepared statement.

The two governors appointed the panel in April to review the $3.6 billion proposal.

The project would replace the existing twin three-lane drawbridges over the river with 10 lanes, extend Portland’s light rail transit system into downtown Vancouver and improve five miles of freeway on both sides of the river.

“I have confidence that the dedicated and professional staff at the two state transportation departments will leverage the momentum we now have to get the job done,” Gregoire said in a prepared statement.

Casting a long shadow: Potential effects of a new I-5 bridge on downtown Vancouver have some experts riled.