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News / Clark County News

$8 million more in funding secured for Hood River bridge replacement

Construction to replace hundred-year-old Columbia River Gorge bridge slated to start in 2025

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 15, 2024, 11:36am

Hood River-White Salmon Bridge project officials have nearly secured two-thirds of the bridge replacement project’s estimated $520 million price tag with another $8 million in federal earmarks announced this week.

The money approved by Congress last week came from two $4 million appropriation requests submitted in spring 2023 — one from Oregon and the other from Washington at the request of Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

This latest round of funding comes after the project was awarded a $200 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in January. The project now has $327 million in committed funds — about 63 percent of the project’s estimated cost.

About 70 miles east of Vancouver in the Columbia River Gorge, the seismically deficient, nearly 100-year-old bridge has had a 15 mph speed limit for years. It will be replaced by a concrete two-lane, fixed-span bridge with an attached bike and pedestrian path running side-by-side with traffic, which the current bridge lacks.

If it is not replaced, the bridge will close to truck traffic in 2030 due to safety concerns — and close to all traffic in 2040.

“Every dollar we get from the government is a dollar local residents won’t have to repay in tolls on the future bridge. We’re incredibly grateful to the Congressional delegation from Washington and Oregon for securing funding for this critical interstate connector,” Mike Fox, co-chair of the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge Authority, said in a press release.

In September, the toll for passenger vehicles increased from $2 to $3.50 per crossing.

More than 4.3 million vehicles cross the bridge annually. The closest alternate crossings — Bridge of the Gods and The Dalles Bridge — are more than 20 miles in either direction.

Construction on the replacement bridge is scheduled to start in 2025.

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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