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Aug. 7, 2022

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C-Tran board calls for new I-5 bridge

Resolution seeks dedicated guideway to support mass transit, such as bus rapid transit

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
3 Photos
The C-Tran Board of Directors approved a resolution that urges Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature to devote resources to the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge. The agency also called for the future bridge to include a dedicated guideway to support mass transit, such as bus rapid transit.
The C-Tran Board of Directors approved a resolution that urges Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature to devote resources to the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge. The agency also called for the future bridge to include a dedicated guideway to support mass transit, such as bus rapid transit. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The C-Tran Board of Directors is now the most recent Southwest Washington governing body to urge state leaders to take the earliest step of replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge.

On Tuesday, the transit agency approved a resolution that “supports efforts to analyze all options available to reduce congestion in the region,” starting with the I-5 Bridge. It also urges Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Legislature to “adequately fund” the Washington State Department of Transportation’s analysis “of options for congestion reduction for the region, including the replacement of the Interstate 5 Bridge.”

While the city of Vancouver, Clark County Council, all ports in the county and others have passed similar resolutions, C-Tran’s is different because it is the only public entity that directly uses the bridge on a daily basis — and that’s reflected in the document’s language.

In addition to naming the current bridge’s realities and shortcomings — its significance to the West Coast transportation corridor, regional trade, severe congestion, seismic obsolescence and the inadequacy of current bistate public transit — all have called for a dedicated guideway to serve mass transit.

C-Tran and the Clark County Council both went out of lockstep and named bus rapid transit specifically as their preferred mass transit solution. But while the county council’s position is rooted in opposition to light rail, C-Tran’s is rooted in the improvement of its service into Portland.

“C-Tran operates the only bus routes on Interstate 5 within Clark County-Portland Metropolitan Area, and as such these routes are negatively impacted by congestion, and C-Tran service reliability could benefit from a dedicated lane of traffic for public transportation,” the resolution reads.

It notes that Clark County and Portland aren’t connected by high capacity transit, but the situation would be “greatly improved” if transit service had its own dedicated guideway rather than trying to operate in mixed-traffic.

The resolution also asks that the new bridge have a high-capacity transit option in a dedicated guideway, bike and pedestrian paths; a structure that meets or exceeds seismic standards and enhances connections for freight in the metro area; and a resolution to conflicts over river vessels and airspace.

Before the meeting, C-Tran CEO Shawn Donaghy said the ideal crossing would be one that would allow C-Tran buses to get to Jantzen Beach uninterrupted, and possibly connect to a bus-on-shoulder corridor or HOV lanes. He also said the agency is aware that the trucking industry is also struggling with the corridors congestion problems.

“We’re always open to a shared or dual-use guideway,” he said.

Donaghy said that whatever form of high-capacity transit is put on the bridge should be dictated by the residents of Clark County.

That said, he framed an optimistic future of BRT serving as the backbone of C-Tran’s network. Building off the success of the The Vine on Fourth Plain Boulevard, C-Tran plans to put a similar line on Mill Plain Boulevard followed by one on Highway 99. Connecting those services to a BRT service across I-5 “really provides a win,” he said.

“Right now, Clark County sees the success of BRT, and that’s at the forefront of what we’re trying to see now,” he said.

Columbian staff writer

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