Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need to replace the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River?
Interstate 5 (I-5) provides a critical connection between Oregon and Washington that supports local jobs and families, and is a vital trade route for regional, national, and international economies. With one span of the bridge now over 100 years old, the two existing structures are at risk for collapse in the event of a major earthquake and no longer satisfy the needs of modern commerce and travel. Replacing the aging Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River with a modern, seismically resilient, multimodal structure that improves mobility for people, goods and services is a vital priority for the region.
A key first priority of the IBR program is to update the purpose and need and establish the community vision and values. These are the transportation problems and regional perspectives on values that will be used to evaluate replacement alternatives and identify the preferred solution for replacing the Interstate Bridge. While the program is still in the early stages of working with stakeholders and the public to identify the transportation needs for the program, all six of the problems previously identified with the existing Interstate Bridge still exist. These include:
- Seismic vulnerability
- Limited public transportation
- Impaired freight movement
- Inadequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities
- Safety concerns with existing roadway design
- Growing travel demand and congestion
Which alternatives will be explored for the IBR program?
The program is in the beginning stages of the process to identify the range of replacement bridge alternatives that could meet the needs of the region. One of the first steps in this process is to work with the community to update the program’s purpose and need and establish the vision and values for the program. The purpose and need will identify the transportation problems that any alternative must be able to address. The community vision and values will identify regional priorities related to potential transportation improvements and program outcomes that will be used to further evaluate alternatives. The technical and funding feasibility of the range of alternatives will be explored to help identify a preferred solution for replacing the Interstate Bridge.
Will transit be a part of the IBR program?
The program is committed to identifying a multimodal solution that accommodates all people and modes of travel to provide equitable access to jobs and critical services. While it is too early to know the full range of transit alternatives that will be considered, prior studies of light rail and bus rapid transit on a dedicated roadway have shown that improved transit service across the Interstate Bridge would reduce congestion and emissions by decreasing the number of vehicle trips, especially at peak hours. Federal transit grants could also contribute to the combined overall funding for highway and transit construction, which would ultimately benefit both transit riders and motorists. A transparent, data-driven public process will be used to screen alternatives to identify the transit mode that best meets the transportation needs and community values established for the program and fits within the operating plans of the two partner transit agencies, C-TRAN and TriMet.
How will the new bridge be funded, and will it involve tolls?
Given the funding reality for large transportation projects nationwide, it is assumed that any bridge replacement alternative will require revenue from a diverse range of sources, including federal funds, tolling, and state funds from both Oregon and Washington. Cost estimates and potential funding sources will be updated as work continues to identify and analyze river crossing and transit alternatives. The program scope will be tailored to align with available funding.
Additional information addressing funding questions can be found at this link.
Who is involved in making decisions and how can I be a part of the process?
There are many opportunities to participate in the IBR program and have your voice heard.
Program work will be shaped by the direction and timelines established by the governors, legislative committees, transportation commissions, and/or transportation departments from both states. As part of this work, the program is committed to proactively reaching out to the broadest possible range of community stakeholders and providing ongoing opportunities for meaningful community engagement to help shape the program.
Three advisory groups have been established to develop recommendations on key issues of importance to the community. All advisory group meetings will be open to the public and include the opportunity to provide input. In the coming months, these advisory groups will help define the purpose and need and community vision and values for the program, which will be the foundation used to evaluate alternatives and identify the preferred solution for replacing the Interstate Bridge. It will be critical for the public to weigh in during this early phase of program development so that community values are integrated into the overall IBR program goals and outcomes. A wide variety of public involvement opportunities will be available to provide different avenues to give feedback. Information about advisory group meetings, public events, and community engagement opportunities can be found at interstatebridge.org.
How will equity play a role in the IBR program?
The IBR program is committed to centering equity in all aspects of program work. The IBR program will elevate the voices of historically marginalized communities in our engagement, design, planning, environmental, and construction processes. It is our commitment to not further harm to these communities, by learning from and acknowledging past harms caused by departments of transportation to communities of color in the program corridor. To help achieve this commitment, the Equity Advisory Group will be charged with providing insight and input on the program’s effects on historically underserved and underrepresented communities, and will provide recommendations on processes, policies, and decisions on program development work.