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Feb. 4, 2023

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I-5 Bridge replacement program misses out on grant

Project can reapply for federal highway program money later this year

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
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Although the IBR missed out on funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the program plans to reapply and ask for significantly more money later this year.
Although the IBR missed out on funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the program plans to reapply and ask for significantly more money later this year. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program will not be receiving money from the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Investment Program this time around, although it will be eligible to reapply later this year.

The program applied for the $750 million grant in early August, and the announcement Wednesday marks the first opportunity the program had to receive significant money from the federal government.

Funding was given to projects ready to proceed to construction, a Federal Highway Administration announcement said. Construction on the I-5 Bridge is not expected until 2025.

“We knew we were early in the game,” Program Administrator Greg Johnson said. “These projects are probably about a year and a half to two years ahead of us. … We knew that we were taking our shot just to get our place in line for the funding.”

Of the more than $2 billion in funding announced Wednesday, $1.385 billion is going to the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky.

The Bridge Investment Program stipulates a maximum of 50 percent of the project being federally funded; now that the program released its updated cost estimate of $5.5 billion to $7.5 billion, Johnson said the program will likely ask for significantly more money than the Brent Spence Bridge received.

Next steps

In addition to reapplying for the Bridge Investment Program, the I-5 Bridge project intends to apply for the Mega Bridge Grant and the multiyear Capital Improvement Grant after it receives a commitment for $1 billion from the Oregon Legislature.

Having financial commitment from both states will bolster the program’s case for federal funding, Johnson said.

“We have to have the commitment from both states and we have to keep this on schedule,” Johnson said. “If this program would have started two years earlier, we would have been right in a perfect position for funding, but we didn’t.”

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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 and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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