PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The governors of Oregon and Washington will meet Monday in Vancouver to show their commitment to restarting the long-discussed project to replace the Interstate Bridge. The meeting will be the first joint appearance specifically geared toward what likely would be a multi-billion-dollar project.
The bridge is more than 100 years old and the traffic on the bridge is chronic. Governor Brown went so far as to call it a threat to Oregon’s economy. Transportation planners said the current bridge poses significant seismic risks. In the event of an earthquake, the bridge could fall into the river because it’s not built into the bedrock. It was instead built in soil, which could liquefy.
“We avoid it as much as possible,” said Vancouver resident Joyce Martinson. “Definitely think they need to do something and it should have been done 20 years ago.”
The 2 states plan to reopen an officer for the I-5 bridge project and are working to incorporate community feedback in a bi-state effort to move this critical project forward.
“In my opinion, they should build one next to it,” said Chris Waller, who frequently crosses the I-5 bridge. “They should keep that one open and build one right next to it and have a shoulder on it in case cars do break down.”
A new bridge has been long talked about and millions were spent over the course of a decade trying to come up with a plan that could work for both Oregon and Washington. But, that essentially stalled in 2013 after years of planning when Washington lawmakers declined to pay for the state’s share of the Columbia River Crossing project. Oregon walked away from the project the following year.
“They wasted about $100 million and we have no bridge,” said Hayden Island Resident Michael Klaar. “And we are probably going to waste another $150 million and still have no bridge.”
The gubernatorial summit is the latest indication that momentum continues to build surrounding the bridge talks. On Monday, Governors Jay Inslee and Brown plan to sign to sign a memorandum of intent and meet with regional leaders as well.
Information contributed by the Associated Press from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com