I-5 - Interstate Bridge Replacement Program

Project news

Why does the Interstate Bridge need to be replaced?

Replacing the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River has been an ongoing concern of Portland-Vancouver region residents for decades. The northbound bridge turned 100 years old in 2017, while the southbound bridge opened in 1958. Operating and maintaining these aging structures costs around $1.2 million each year, split evenly between ODOT and WSDOT. Larger maintenance projects to keep the Interstate Bridge in service is expected to cost over $280 million through the year 2040, not including seismic retrofit.

Previously identified concerns with the existing Interstate Bridge include:

  • Safety
  • Impaired freight movement
  • Limited public transportation
  • Inadequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  • Seismic vulnerability
  • Growing travel demand and congestion

What’s happening?

The 2019-2021 Washington transportation budget included $35 million to restart work to replace the Interstate Bridge. The Oregon Transportation Commission allocated $9 million for work on bi-state Interstate Bridge replacement efforts.

WSDOT and ODOT will jointly lead bridge replacement work in coordination with six other bi-state partner agencies: City of Portland, City of Vancouver, Metro, RTC, TriMet, and C-TRAN. An essential first step is to develop a shared understanding among the agencies for how they will work together on this effort.

What’s needed to replace the bridges?

Before construction could begin on a replacement bridge, WSDOT and ODOT will need to work with partners to:

  • Complete the federal environmental review process 
  • Obtain necessary state and federal permits 
  • Finalize project design
  • Develop a finance plan 
  • Secure adequate funding
  • Complete right of way acquisition
  • Advertise for construction

This work will occur through joint efforts of the eight partner agencies in coordination with federal partners, permitting agencies, state and local elected officials, sovereign tribal governments, community stakeholders and the public. Robust and inclusive public engagement is critical for this effort to be successful. 

Bi-state legislative involvement will be essential for a project to successfully complete this process and move to construction. Each state legislature has identified eight representatives to formally engage in efforts to replace the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River. 

The timeline to complete this work can be influenced by many factors. Completing the environmental review process, which results in federal approval for construction, is anticipated to take at least 3-5 years. The target is to make significant progress toward beginning the environmental review process by July 2021. 

To help provide a solid understanding of previous work that could support efficient decision-making for a future project, WSDOT completed the Columbia River I-5 Bridge Planning Inventory in 2017 as directed by Washington Substitute Senate Bill 5806. The inventory documents existing data related to construction of a new bridge for I-5 over the Columbia, including a summary of the extensive technical work completed as part of previous bridge replacement efforts. 

 

Contact us

Program office phone: 360-905-1560
Email: interstatebridge@wsdot.wa.gov 

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Note: The Washington State Department of Transportation is a public agency and is subject to the State of Washington’s Public Records Act (RCW 42.56). Therefore, public comments and questions may be made available to anyone requesting them for non-commercial purposes.

Map of the location of the Interstate Bridge on I-5 between Washington and Oregon

Interstate 5 Bridge between Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR facing south

Interstate 5 Bridge between Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR during a bridge lift