Legislature

Third Bridge Legislation Introduced to Washington Legislature – ClarkCountyToday.com

Planning for a proposed additional bridge over the Columbia River

Legislation was introduced in the Washington State Legislature to begin consideration of a third bridge over the Columbia River. This comes amid intense community discussions regarding the potential spending of $3-5 billion to replace the Interstate 5 bridge.

Two bills were introduced, as “An Act respecting the study of the construction of a third bridge over the Columbia River between southwestern Washington and Oregon”. House Bill 2034 is sponsored by Representatives Brandon Vick and Larry Hoff (Republican, 18th District) and Vicki Kraft (Republican 17th District) and Robert Southerland (Republican 39th District). Senate Bill 5934 is sponsored by Senators Lynda Wilson (17th Republican District), Ann Rivers (18th Republican District), and John Braun (20th Republican District).

On Monday, the House Transportation Committee held a public hearing on HB 2034. No citizens testified. Staff shared that the bill would provide $300,000 to the Joint Committee on Transportation to study “options and strategies” for building a third bridge over the Columbia River.

For more than 50 years, many ideas have been proposed for multiple additional crossings of the Columbia River.  The Washington <a class=State Legislature is currently considering legislation to study a third bridge and transportation corridor. Graphic courtesy Chuck Green” class=”wp-image-109152 lazyload” srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 750px) 100vw, 750px”/>
For more than 50 years, many ideas have been proposed for multiple additional crossings of the Columbia River. The Washington State Legislature is currently considering legislation to study a third bridge and transportation corridor. Graphic courtesy Chuck Green

The study should take into account

  • traffic demand, including general purpose traffic relief which may be provided to existing highway routes by the creation of a third bridge;
  • the anticipated demand for freight traffic, including the relief of freight traffic which could be granted to the existing road routes by the creation of a third bridge;
  • a cost-benefit analysis of the construction of a third bridge, which must include an analysis of the estimated cost of construction of a third bridge;
  • potential locations for a third bridge over the Columbia River between southwest Washington and Oregon; and
  • preliminary design options for a third bridge.

A final report must be submitted to the legislature’s transportation committees by June 30, 2023.

Vick presented the bill to the House committee. “The discussion between I-5 and the third bridge has been a topic of conversation for a long time,” he said. “Today, I am here in front of you to talk not about the I-5 bridge or a third bridge; but I’m here to talk about what our future looks like.

“The bill is meant to move forward,” he said. He went on to mention the progress of the Interstate Bridge Replacement (IBR) program, but said the current program won’t solve all of Southwest Washington’s transportation problems. Vick wanted to see 5, 10 or 20 years into the future, knowing that the region’s growth will require additional bridges.

“It won’t solve some of our underlying issues,” Vick said in reference to the current IBR. “The Portland metro area continues to grow at a rapid pace. (The IBR) will not solve the problem that when I-5 or I-205 is closed, we are cut off from the rest of the world. He specifically mentioned the police activity that recently closed the freeway for 8-10 hours.

Rep. Keith Goehner (Republican, 12th District) asked what the extra capacity or number of lanes would be. VIck responded by saying he would leave that to the experts to assess projected vehicle and freight requirements.

Committee Chairman Jake Fey (Democrat, 27th District) asked if the third bridge would go west of I-5 or not. Vick said he would leave that to the pros as well. He mentioned that growth seems to be happening faster west of I-5, but a bridge there would likely be more expensive.

Growth east of I-205 is limited by the Columbia River Gorge, but a bridge east of I-205 would connect Camas to Gresham, Vick noted. He hinted that it would probably be an easier and cheaper third bridge to build there.

“It’s going to take a lot of ground, it’s going to take a lot of time,” Vick said. “So I think that’s the first step, figuring out what’s possible.”

RTC Board Discussion

Matt Ransom, director of the SW Washington Regional Transportation Council (RTC) briefed the board on Tuesday on numerous legislative issues, mentioning the Vick-Wilson bills. He spoke with staff from the state transportation committee and offered to help. He also mentioned our RTC’s creation of the 2008 “Vision Study” which foresaw the ultimate need for two new bridges and transportation corridors over the Columbia River.

“I think this puts the right direction, gives money in the right amount, to the right joint transportation committee to begin the serious planning that we need for a third corridor,” Councilor Gary Medigy said in response to the Ransom briefing. “I really believe that we should very quickly, sign up to it as an RTC, and say that we very strongly support this, to see if we can give it a boost.”

Towards the end of the meeting, RTC Chairman of the Board, Shawn Donaghy (CEO of C-Tran), added his perspective. He seemed to throw cold water on Medvigy’s suggestion to quickly communicate his support for the legislation.

“I would say that while we understand that the priority for our current iteration is currently the replacement of the I-5 Interstate Bridge, I think the RTC needs to play a role at some point in looking at our future crossings and start to start to take the lead on this,” Donaghy said. “So once we’re in a position where we’re comfortable with the Interstate Bridge replacement movement, I think it’s important for us to start exploring what that means in the long term and how we need to get involved in some of these discussion points.

Medvigy has been pushing for the RTC to move forward with the study and planning for a third bridge since his early days as a member of the RTC’s board of directors.

During an August 2019 review of the RTC’s 2008 “vision study”, Medvigy encouraged the RTC to move forward, inviting Oregon’s participation, but to go ahead regardless. .

“Why didn’t Oregon participate? asked Medvigy. “And then the second question is, why didn’t the RTC, at some point, pass a resolution to kick off some of this planning north and south of the river?”

“We can’t fool ourselves,” Rep. Vicki Kraft said at the 2019 meeting, “we need to have more crossings. For our commuters, for our freight, our economy. So I think we have the power to show leadership, to engage them in this conversation, and now is the time to do so.

Clark County Council recently expressed support for planning a third and fourth bridge corridor, in a position paper it sent to the IBR team.

“It’s been a pleasure for me to work for what we Clark County residents need, and it’s rightful relief from traffic congestion,” Councilwoman Karen Bowerman said in an email. CCT last fall. “The planning horizon is long and difficult. But from now on, we will have fewer missteps in allowing roads, homes and businesses to be built where the new corridors would be.

The RTC's 2008 Visionary Study identified the need for several new transportation corridors around Clark County when the population reaches one million people.  Clark County is currently at half a million.  Last fall, the county council passed a resolution using RTC information to begin planning for the Third and Fourth Transportation Corridors crossing the Columbia River.  Graphic courtesy of Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council
The RTC’s 2008 Visionary Study identified the need for several new transportation corridors around Clark County when the population reaches one million people. Clark County is currently at half a million. Last fall, the county council passed a resolution using RTC information to begin planning for the Third and Fourth Transportation Corridors crossing the Columbia River. Graphic courtesy of Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council

The county council document noted: Transportation architect Kevin Peterson reviewed data from the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) traffic project that came from two Washington studies between 2000 and 2007. He identified that by 2060 there would be a need for nine lanes in each direction on the I-5 corridor and eight lanes in each direction on the I-205 corridor. This indicates that a total of 17 lanes would be required on the Columbia River within just 40 years. They are seven today.

A question for regional planners: Do we want all these vehicles to use only two existing transport corridors? It would seem logical to divide the flow of traffic on the river between several transport corridors, each serving the needs of different communities.

Portland has a dozen bridges over the Willamette River, over an area of ​​approximately 12 miles. Each serves different communities and spreads the transportation burden over many smaller transportation corridors. One can only imagine the traffic nightmare if Portland only had two bridges over the Willamette River.

Additional crossings of the Columbia River have been discussed and proposed for over half a century. Chuck Green recently shared a graphic to highlight all the discussions and ideas that have so far failed to come to fruition. This story has highlighted those options.

The regional population has doubled since the opening of the Glenn Jackson Bridge in 1982, connecting East Portland to Clark County. The I-5 and I-205 bridges now exceed their rated capacity for the number of vehicles they carry.

Citizens should monitor and offer support for HB 2084 and SB 5934,