Oregon, Washington reps set for first meeting on new I-5 Columbia River Bridge project

Oregon, Washington reps set for first meeting on new I-5 Columbia River Bridge project

How much are we willing to compromise to get great cycling access on this bridge?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Here we go again.

Tomorrow morning top officials from governments and transportation agencies in Oregon and Washington will meet for the first time to discuss a new effort to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge over the Columbia River. One of the six problems with the existing bridge officials want to solve is, “Inadequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities.”

If you’re new to this site or to this town, you need to know some history: Back in 2007 the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation embarked on what they called the Columbia River Crossing. It was extremely shady from the get-go and they spent six years trying to convince us that their plan to spend $4 billion to encourage more driving and widen the freeway (and several ramps) between Portland and Vancouver would be a good thing. $175 million in plans and presentations and consultant paychecks later, the project died when Washington state legislators — who were never comfortable with the idea of light rail into their backyard — voted against a bill that would fund it.

The project is now called the I-5 Interstate Bridge Replacement Program, or I-BRP (pronounced, “I burp”). Tomorrow morning the project’s Executive Steering Group (ESG) meets for the first of two kickoff meetings. Here’s who has a seat on the ESG:

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  • Oregon Department of Transportation: Kris Strickler, Director
  • Washington State Department of Transportation: Roger Millar, Secretary
  • TriMet: Doug Kelsey, General Manager
  • C-TRAN: Shawn Donaghy, CEO
  • Oregon Metro: Lynn Peterson, Council President
  • Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council: Scott Hughes, Board Chair
  • City of Portland: Sonia Schmanski, Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office
  • City of Vancouver: Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Mayor
  • Port of Portland: Kristen Leonard, Chief Public Affairs Officer
  • Port of Vancouver: Julianna Marler, CEO
  • Interim Community Advisory Group Co-chair (WA): Lynn Valenter
  • Interim Community Advisory Group Co-chair (OR): Ed Washington

You can follow along on the meeting tomorrow (Friday, 11/6) at 8:00 am via YouTube or Zoom (passcode 531345). They’ll have a second meeting on November 30th.

We desperately need a better cycling connection between Oregon and Washington and this is our chance to get it. Stay tuned! And if you are interested in background on the CRC, check out the 90 or so articles I wrote about it between 2007 and 2014.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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