As citizens of the city of Vancouver — along with the rest of America — head out over the Memorial Day weekend, starting the traditions of a summer travel season, I would like to point out that many will see and experience first-hand, the degradation of our community and nation’s roadway infrastructure.
The infrastructure woes we have in Vancouver are part of a larger problem. With major roads in poor condition and many bridges rated structurally deficient, our nation’s infrastructure earned an overall grade of D in the last Report Card prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Despite a call from communities across our nation, Congress has yet to take action to address long-term transportation funding. Instead of a solid, long term plan, we keep kicking-the-can-down-the-road by passing the 9th extension of the highway bill. In many cases, this uncertainty leaves states such as Washington, and communities such as Vancouver, unable to plan and build much-needed road and bridge projects.
I-5 Bridge a prime example
One example of a needed project is the Columbia River Crossing. Shortcomings in our transportation system negatively affect our region’s economy and livability, and the existing Interstate 5 Bridge and adjacent interchanges are doing just that. Significant safety and congestion problems plague the I-5 corridor in Vancouver and south of the Columbia River. These problems will continue to get worse without action.
The Columbia River Crossing project is focused on replacing aged infrastructure by updating the bridge, freeway and feeder interchanges to current design standards. In doing so, the project will provide predictable travel times, improve traffic safety, increase travel options for local residents and prevent traffic backups in neighborhoods.
Without funding from a long-term federal transportation bill, the Columbia River Crossing and other local priority street and port projects will be further delayed. Our region’s projects can no longer be put on the back burner.