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.
The previous project identified six transportation problems with the existing Interstate Bridge, and we know that all six of these problems still exist today and remain unaddressed. 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
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 transit options 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 evaluate design options 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 a bridge replacement 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 options. 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. It will be critical for the public to weigh in throughout the program so that community values are integrated in the IBR program work. 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 the community engagement page.
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.
What are the current plans for replacing the old bridge?
At this time, it is too early in the project development process to know which river crossing design options will be studied as part of the IBR program. All program development work will be conducted through a transparent public process with extensive and inclusive community involvement, which will be critical to successfully identifying a solution that is supported by the region.