The Vancouver City Council easily passed a unanimous resolution supporting a replacement for the Interstate 5 Bridge, urging Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature to put funds into a new crossing.
“This is a significant night for us all, as we have waited for quite some time to move this bridge project forward, and the stars seem to be lining up,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said before making the motion to pass the resolution during Monday’s council meeting. “Our community has asked for help, our businesses have asked for help. … We’ve had a number of different issues with this … but we are a bistate regional system for economics and transportation.”
McEnerny-Ogle told the council it was “appropriate” for the city to take the first step and urge neighboring cities and local ports to pass similar resolutions to show the governor and the Legislature that “Southwest Washington is indeed supportive of a replacement bridge.”
The city’s resolution announces the city’s support for a replacement bridge featuring high-capacity transit with a dedicated guideway — which the U.S. Department of Transportation defines as a separate right-of-way or rail for the exclusive use of public transportation.
The resolution also urges lawmakers to give enough funding to the Washington Department of Transportation “to materially advance project development for an Interstate 5 Bridge replacement.”
It also explains the city’s support for multimodal transportation and bicycle and pedestrian access to the bridge.
The resolution passed in minutes without discussion from other councilors, but there was some discussion during a workshop just before the official meeting.
Type of transit not specified
During the workshop, McEnerny-Ogle clarified the city is not asking Washington lawmakers to pay for the project in its entirety; councilors also reiterated their support for the resolution.
Councilor Alicia Topper asked for and received clarification that the city wasn’t advocating for any specific type of mass transit.
The last time the council formally took a stand on the bridge was in 2008, which acknowledged the bridge’s significant yet crippling congestion issues.
Since then, conditions have only gotten worse.
Research by the Regional Transportation Council show that between 2011 and 2016, travel time rose 291 percent, from 6½ minutes to about 25 minutes, during the morning commute on I-5 from state Highway 500 to Jantzen Beach, Ore.
In that same time period, peak congestion has increased from five hours to seven hours.