While the issue of replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge is expected to come up in the legislative session underway in Olympia, one Clark County lawmaker has other ideas.
State Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, has introduced legislation that would lay the groundwork for a third bridge across the Columbia River.
The legislation, House Bill 1835, would direct $300,000 for the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee to hire a consultant to look into options for an additional bridge or connection west of I-5 linking Southwest Washington and Oregon. Kraft, who was elected to a second term in November, argues that a third bridge is the best way to relieve congestion for the estimated 70,000 Clark County residents who commute to Oregon.
Since the 2013 demise of the Columbia River Crossing, a proposed replacement of the I-5 Bridge, Clark County lawmakers have converged on reviving efforts to replace the century-old structure. Kraft has remained an outlier.
“Simply upgrading or replacing the I-5 Bridge would not provide the congestion relief needed on this commuter and freight corridor,” Kraft said in a written statement. “That’s because the freeway comes to a bottleneck on the Oregon side.”