Columbia Crossing at PSU this Friday

Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Spring 2006 Transportation Seminar Series

Topic: Columbia River Crossing Environmental Impact Statement
Speakers: Doug Ficco, CRC Project Co-Director, Washington State Department of Transportation and Jay Lyman, Consultant Team PM, David Evans and Associates, Inc.
When: Friday, May 19, 2006, 12:00-1:30 pm
Where: 204 Urban Center (

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I-5 is the only continuous north/south interstate highway on the West Coast, providing a commerce link for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In the Vancouver-Portland region, I-5 is one of two major highways that provide interstate connectivity and mobility. Operation of the I-5 crossing over the Columbia River is directly influenced by the 5-mile segment of I-5 between SR 500 in Vancouver and Columbia Boulevard in Portland. This segment includes interchanges with three state highways (SR 14, SR 500, and SR 501) and five major arterial roadways that serve a variety of land uses, and provides access to downtown Vancouver, two international ports, industrial centers, residential neighborhoods, retail centers, and recreational areas.

The existing I-5 crossing of the Columbia River consists of two side-by-side bridges, built four decades apart. The crossing, which served 30,000 vehicles per day in the 1960s, now carries more than 130,000 automobiles, buses, and trucks each weekday. The bridges are stretched far beyond capacity—the hours of stop-and-go traffic grow every year. As the metropolitan region grows, mobility and accessibility for automobile, vehicular freight, and transit will decline unless added capacity is provided in the I-5 corridor. An increasing disparity between demand and capacity will lead to longer delays, increased accident rates, and diminished quality of life and economic opportunity.

Now, the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation are leading the Columbia River Crossing project, aimed at improving the mobility, reliability, and accessibility for automobile, freight, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian users of the I-5 corridor. The project is moving through the NEPA process in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Major transportation agencies in the bi-state region also have joined together to coordinate the development of this multi-modal crossing. These agencies include Metro, Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, TriMet, C-TRAN, and the cities of Portland and Vancouver.

In the coming years, the project will evaluate possible solutions to the problems, address design challenges, and deliver a financially feasible solution that strengthens the regional economy and strives to support community livability.

5 responses to “Columbia Crossing at PSU this Friday”

  1. The opportunity to provide solutions to the congestion found in the I-5 corridor through Portland is being lost and/or squandered with this replacement of the Interstate Bridges. Thei CRC project will take all of the needed funding for the next 20-years to make it happen. Nothing will be left to truly solve to problems of congestion.

  2. The Columbia Crossing project will accomplish one thing – it will move the congestion created by WashDOT transportation policies across the river into Portland. Its hard to see how this was not inevitable with 7 freeway lanes from every part of Clark County converging on a three lane bridge.

    Dealing with the problems that traffic creates for Portland will eat up at least as many resources as the new bridge itself.

  3. Koodos to Paul!

    Anyone with sense realizes that a new corridor is needed. Without the ability to move freight, Portland is losing billions a year. Until one is provided THough, allow the trucks use of HOV lanes. Not only does this move freight easier, it also lessens polution.

    Susan C Morton

  4. “Anyone with sense realizes that a new corridor is needed”

    Some folks have been advocating opening up an alternative multimodal route at the RR corridor, variously known as North Portland Road Route, BNSF, or the West Arterial. They would then like to connect the West end of Columbia BV. to Hwy 30 with another bridge. I have also suggested a third bridge at the RR crossing of the Willamette. I know, sounds like a lot of bridges, but the second two could be smaller, andI think it would divert enough traffic to forestall replacement of the existing I-5, especially if commuting can be included in the plan.

    The WDOT engineer at the CRC meeting suggested that only a 15% reduction would be seen. However, perhaps Swan Island could also be accessed from this route, as well as Northwest Portland industries, and outward to St. Helens. I think this route could also have good mass transit–from the Pearl to University of Portland, to St. Johns, Hayden Island and West Vancouver. I don’t think this necessitates a “Western Bypass Freeway” which many people fear.

  5. The problem with the RR alignment is 1. the BNSF owns it, 2. you must build two bridges AND a structured roadway through the RR cut…if BNSF would agree, 3. how does it connect to I-5 in WA…Mill Plain is an arterial, 4. it would dump more traffic on US 30 which is already congested.
    Providing an arterial bridge in the I-5 alignment will address the approx. 1/3 of trips that are local (Why should I have to get on I-5 to have a drink at Shenanigans?. The existing freeway segment can then be streamlined across the river.
    Providing high capacity transit (MAX Yellow Line) from Vancouver will offer another option to those who work on Rivergate, Swan Island, in Lower Albina, Lloyd District and Downtown. These are the primary destinations.

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