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News / Clark County News

Oregon Legislature’s I-5 Bridge funding plan comes with cost cap of $6.3B

Earlier estimated cost range was $5B to $7.5B

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 13, 2023, 1:04pm

Legislators in Salem, Ore., are working to match the $1 billion Washington allocated last year to fund the Interstate 5 Bridge replacement.

But according to a draft policy bill released ahead of the joint Committee on Transportation’s informational hearing on Thursday, there is one major caveat: The total cost of the project may not exceed $6.3 billion.

The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program’s cost is estimated at $6 billion, with a range of between $5 billion and $7.5 billion.

Financial commitments from both states are a near prerequisite for the program to receive the targeted $2.5 billion in federal funds. In addition to state and federal funds, tolling is expected to contribute more than $1.2 billion.

“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 new federal infrastructure investment opportunities as well as the IBR program,” Assistant Program Administrator Frank Green said.

The program applied for $750 million from the Bridge Investment Program grant last fall but was passed up. In its application, the program used the high end of preliminary cost estimate of $3.2 billion to $4.8 billion to maximize the opportunity to receive federal funds.

Program officials plan to reapply, in addition to two other federal grants, later this year.

Speakers at the meeting included Program Administrator Greg Johnson and Oregon Department of Transportation Director and former Columbia River Crossing Director Kris Strickler, local leaders like Metro Council President and former Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson as well as various stakeholder and union representatives.

In March, Oregon lawmakers said they were working to come up with $1 billion to replace the bridge, matching the commitment made by Washington.

After the Columbia River Crossing — the previous attempt to replace the bridge — collapsed in the Washington Legislature in 2013, elected officials in Washington knew they had to make the first move this time around.

Back then, the Columbia River Crossing project’s cost was estimated at $3.4 billion, with the states putting up $450 million each.

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Columbian staff writer