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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Letter: Advantages in replacing rail bridge

By Jim Gish, Vancouver
Published: February 12, 2016, 6:00am

Here we go — CRC 2.0. Light rail across the Columbia River seems to be one of the major stumbling blocks to reaching consensus on a new Interstate 5 Bridge design. I will admit that I do not have a complete grasp of all the alternative solutions, however, one proposed alternative is a third bridge. But wait, what about replacing the existing third bridge?

The Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge 9.6 was opened in 1908. It crosses the Columbia downstream from the I-5 Bridge and I expect it is as vulnerable to earthquakes and shipping accidents as the I-5 Bridge. Build a new I-5 Bridge without light rail and replace the railroad bridge with a new bridge to carry light and heavy rail traffic.

There are several advantages. A light rail connection crossing the river farther downstream would make it easier to provide service to the highly touted waterfront development project. A separate auto and light rail solution will simplify the I-5 Bridge design and deflect some of the political objections. A new railroad bridge will provide a safer and more resilient infrastructure to carry both light and heavy rail service between Portland and Vancouver.

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