Open house highlights I-5 bridge height, study results

The public can review new findings, discuss options

The public can review new findings, discuss options

The results of a comprehensive analysis of various bridge heights for the replacement Interstate 5 bridge will be shared and discussed at a public open house Wednesday, in Vancouver.

The event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Red Lion at the Quay, River Room, 100 Columbia St.

As part of the Columbia River Crossing project’s ongoing work to prepare a bridge permit application for the replacement I-5 bridge, project staff conducted further analysis of a mid-range (95 to 110 foot) bridge identified in the “Locally Preferred Alternative.” In addition, staff completed new analyses of the feasibility of 115, 120 and 125 foot bridge options.

The analyses considered river use, vessel impacts, freight mobility, highway safety and efficiency, transit efficiency, landside impacts, air safety, economic impacts and costs associated with various bridge heights.

CRC project staff will share information about the bridge height analyses and answer questions about the permitting process and time line at the open house. The report containing the findings has been submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard and is available online.

Through November, CRC staff will continue to refine the technical analysis on the number of vessels impacted, river users, costs and potential solutions. A bridge height recommendation is expected in December 2012. The bridge height recommendation will be central to the general bridge permit application to be submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard in January 2013.

Technical work on the permit began with receipt of the federal Record of Decision in December 2011. The bridge height must balance the interests of river users, freight mobility, needs for flight paths over the bridge to Portland International Airport and Pearson Airfield, connections to downtown Vancouver, and cost and schedule of the project. Changes in the character of river traffic in the past two years led some river users to request a bridge taller than the current design of about 95 feet.

CRC is a long-term, comprehensive project to address seismic vulnerability of the existing crossing, reduce congestion, enhance mobility and improve safety on I-5 between State Route 500 in Vancouver and Columbia Boulevard in Portland. The project will replace the I-5 bridge, extend light rail to Vancouver, improve closely-spaced interchanges, and enhance the pedestrian and bicycle path between the two cities. The project would be funded by federal and state sources, as well as user fees (bridge tolls).

Written comments may be submitted on the CRC project via email at feedback@columbiarivercrossing.org. For more information about the project, visit www.columbiarivercrossing.org.