After the vote, Wheeler said he expects the new bridge to last another century. He said its replacement is essential because of Vancouver’s continued growth as well as the current bridge’s age, seismic inadequacy and lift span technology.
“I’m very bullish on the city of Vancouver and its long-term prospects,” Wheeler said. “Vancouver and Portland are going to become like the Twin Cities. I see Vancouver going through a significant growth spurt over the coming decades, and therefore we need to think about the connectivity between our two communities.”
Port of Portland
The Port of Portland also unanimously endorsed the plan for the new bridge Wednesday.
“The port’s general support for the program along with numerous other public entities in the region … indicates a recognition of the importance of this effort for the movement of goods and travelers and the urgent need for a seismically stable bridge for the region,” said Ivo Trummer, the port’s state affairs manager.
Four groups have endorsed the bridge plan so far: TriMet, the Vancouver City Council, the Port of Vancouver and C-Tran.
The modified locally preferred alternative was unveiled in May. It calls for three traffic lanes, one auxiliary lane and two shoulder lanes in each direction. It also includes light rail, variable-rate tolling and a bridge clearance of 116 feet. The U.S. Coast Guard said in June that it wants 178 feet of clearance for vessels under the next Interstate 5 Bridge.
Whether the bridge is built as two side-by-side spans or one stacked span has yet to be decided.
“This is not merely the end of the process,” said Greg Johnson, program administrator of the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program. “This is the beginning.”
Today, the Clark County Regional Transportation Council Board of Directors and the Oregon Metro Council will vote on whether or not to endorse the plan.
The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program will then seek approval from its executive steering group and the Bi-state Legislative Committee. The next step, if all groups endorse the plan, will move the project into the environmental review process. The IBR will develop a work plan to respond to the partners’ priorities in their endorsements.
Johnson said the IBR has begun the process of applying for federal funding. Construction is expected to begin by late 2025.
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