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News / Clark County News

Interstate 5 Bridge replacement project submits federal grant application

$750 million in federal funds sought for I-5 Bridge replacement

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 3, 2022, 5:40pm

The Interstate Bridge Replacement project submitted its first major federal grant application for $750 million in early August, heading toward its goal of breaking ground by late 2025 to early 2026.

The grant, if awarded in full, will offset a significant portion of the program’s estimated $3.2 billion to $4.8 billion cost.

Other funding includes the already allotted $1.2 billion by the Washington Legislature as well as an expected similar-sized financial commitment from the Oregon Legislature, $1 billion in tolling revenue and two more federal grants.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Investment Program allocates $12.5 billion over the next five years to improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of the movement of people and freight across bridges.

The funds originate from the bipartisan infrastructure law, signed last November.

“The federal infrastructure package offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity for funding programs such as the Interstate Bridge Replacement program,” Program Administrator Greg Johnson said to The Columbian in a statement.

Although the I-5 project fits the grant’s criteria, a chance remains that it will not be awarded grant money, because construction is scheduled for the far end of allocation window.

If this happens the IBR program administrators will reapply in 2023.

“Looking at the criteria identified for these grant opportunities, we are confident that the Interstate Bridge Replacement program is very competitively positioned to achieve federal funding through these programs,” Johnson said.

“As a bistate, multimodal project spanning a major body of water on a nationally significant economic corridor, we believe there are very few other projects that fit the competitive grant application criteria for these federal infrastructure investment opportunities as well as the Interstate Bridge Replacement program,” Johnson continued.

The program also filed to receive a $1 million planning grant, which will be focused on seismic performance and ground improvement work.

The program anticipates that 45 percent of the bridge replacement program will be federally funded, 5 percent shy of the 50 percent maximum federal funding threshold, as required by the bridge investment program grant.

Two more federal grants are on the horizon: the Mega Bridge Grant and the multiyear Capital Improvement Grant. The program aims to submit applications for both in early- to mid-2023.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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Columbian staff writer