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News / Business / Clark County Business

Interstate 5 Bridge group considers equity, climate in freeway interchange design

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 7, 2022, 6:49pm

Bridge planning partners were shown the two remaining options for what the freeway interchanges at Marine Drive in Portland and Hayden Island would look like at the latest Interstate Bridge Replacement Program steering committee meeting Thursday afternoon.

Three additional options were all dismissed by the project for having fatal flaws. The two remaining options included one with full interchanges at both Marine Drive and Hayden Island, as well as one option with a full interchange at Marine Drive and a partial interchange at Hayden Island.

The first option, which the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program team evaluated as being worse on climate and equity than the second option, would provide full access to the freeway going north and south at Hayden Island and Marine Drive.

For the second option, the partial interchange at Hayden Island would provide access for drivers getting onto Interstate 5 north to Vancouver and access from I-5 south from Vancouver. Another arterial road would take drivers to the onramp at Marine Drive.

Both options include access for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as for high-capacity transit stations.

Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said the latter option was the preferred option for the city of Portland.

“We think that is the one that has the best impacts and, as you can see, has the highest equity and climate scores,” Hardesty said in the meeting. “That’s a no-brainer for us at the city of Portland.”

That option was also praised by Curtis Robinhold, executive director for the Port of Portland.

Climate considerations

The topic was just one of those discussed during the three-hour meeting.

There was also a presentation on how the process will work after the program partners have approved the modified locally preferred alternative. The explanation pointed out that the foundational decisions made in approving the locally preferred alternative would not be changed in the process, unless there was a problem found during the National Environmental Policy Act testing process, or there was significant public disapproval.

A brief presentation on climate considerations was also given. It included some of the climate-related topics that would be addressed later in the process, such as protecting bridge builders during drastic climate conditions.

The two transit partner leaders gave statements on their concerns about transit options on the bridge. Shawn Donaghy, chief executive at C-Tran, specifically mentioned concerns around displacement and potential financial questions in introducing a new mode of transit in Clark County.

Because the bridge planners are quickly approaching their June deadline to approve a locally preferred alternative for the program, they’ve added meetings for the steering committee. The program expects to present its recommended modified locally preferred alternative to the committee at its meeting in early May. The project partners would then bring the recommendation to their respective councils and agencies for approval.