Plans to replace the aging Interstate Bridge can now move forward, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.
The approval, known as a "record of decision" (ROD), represents the final clearance of the project's environmental review and allows Oregon and Washington to begin right-of-way acquisition and construction.
"This project is a great example of why we need to strengthen our infrastructure,” explained LaHood in a press release. “The old facility is outdated and it no longer meets the needs of the traveling public or commerce in the region."
Funded through a combination of state and federal sources at a cost of approximately $3 billion, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) said it considers the project a long-term, comprehensive solution to address safety and congestion problems on five miles of I-5 from SR-500 to Victory Boulevard in Portland.
"This is a vital transportation improvement on one of the busiest interstates in the country," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. "The new bridge will put people to work and help support business and economic growth."
Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said the project will also make the rail transit link between Portland and Vancouver possible.
“This is the type of forward-leaning project that will greatly benefit the entire region well into the future,” said Rogoff.
The nearly three-mile light rail portion of the project will extend from Portland’s Expo Center MAX station to Clark College in Vancouver. USDOT expects the transit rail project will reduce the duration of daily congestion on I-5 near the Columbia River by 60 percent.
Currently, the Interstate Bridge serves nearly 130,000 vehicles daily with travel demand expected to grow to 180,000 vehicles daily by 2030, according to USDOT.
This article contains information from a U.S. Department of Transportation press release. To read the release in full, click here.