The long-delayed mega project that was set out to replace the famously Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River is taking shape. The project has stalled for a very long time despite the worries that the bridge is not structurally safe. The budget of the project is currently estimated at $7.5 billion to facilitate the delivery of a new bridge. The cost of the bridge is expected to go even higher in the course of the year. The construction of the bridge is essential to avoid the lengthy backups of up to 10 hours each day that are being witnessed. These backups delay motorists and freight which is becoming concerning. It will now take more federal and state dollars, plus the tolling of the existing and new Columbia River bridges, to pay for it all. The new Interstate bridge will help alleviate delays by adding rail transit and bus options.
The Scope of the Interstate 5 Bridge and its Significance
The Interstate 5 bridge must be high enough for river freight to pass below, including the still-undecided prospect of a costly lift that could slow traffic. The span must also be low enough to avoid steep grades and the airspace above it. It must be smooth enough to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and the light rail train tracks. It also needs to accommodate a multitude of agencies, including transit authorities and the Coast Guard. The next agenda will be completing the project’s environmental reviews, permitting, and design. These will undoubtedly come with lots of opinions from citizens and policymakers alike. This fundamental process can be constructive but ultimately must produce a timely final plan. Any loss in momentum toward that goal could derail the project.
The Challenges of Constructing the I-5 Bridge Over the Columbia River
The construction of the Interstate 5 bridge will come with many challenges and problems as construction starts. One of the challenges will be that crews will plunge pilings 250 feet into bedrock to withstand earthquakes. They will also have to work on a 5-mile stretch to reconstruct multiple interchanges. Furthermore, all while maintaining passage for up to 132,000 weekday motorists, freight totaling more than $100 million daily and the salmon runs that swim beneath. These challenges are expected and countermeasures are to be provided. The construction of the Interstate 5 is critical to ensure that the bridge is safe for use while commuting.
The State of Affairs over the Interstate 5 Construction.
The local congresses from the states of Oregon and Washington are in consensus over the construction of the Interstate 5 bridge. Local members of Congress and legislators from the two states have largely coalesced around the basic premise that regardless of strong feelings they may have about potential bridge features, the crossing’s reconstruction can’t wait any longer. The best bridge, as Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez wisely points out, is the bridge that gets built. Construction on the Interstate 5 bridge is expected to start in late 2025 at the earliest time. The Washington State Department of Transportation together with the Oregon Department of Transportation is expected to mandate the project.