The latest informational update from the CRC mentions that the governors of both of the affected states have officially committed to building a new bridge across the Columbia. Additionally, the DEIS will be released in March on a date yet to be determined and, at the bottom of this post, some information and links about the tolling plan under consideration.
Washington and Oregon governors make commitment to CRC project
Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and Washington Governor Chris Gregoire announced a bi-state commitment to replacing the I-5 bridge that connects Vancouver and Portland during a January tour of the bridge.
“We only have two choices. Do nothing and watch our economy sink, or invest in a multi-modal solution that strengthens our economy and enhances this region’s quality of life,” said Kulongoski.
Gregoire said neither state can afford to do nothing while the problem continues to grow.
“Delays are intolerable, as are potential dangers to public safety,” she said. “We need to find solutions, and find them soon.”
Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be released in March
The Columbia River Crossing project will reach a major milestone next month when it releases its analysis of the environmental and community effects associated with each of five alternatives.
The following issues will be addressed in the Draft EIS:
- Public transit (route, stations, and park and ride locations)
- Freight improvements for connections and safety
- Traffic efficiencies (such as ramp meters, incident response, ridesharing and telecommuting)
- Pedestrian and bicycle improvements
- Effects to air, soil, water, wildlife and noise
- Cultural and historical resource protection
- Bridge type, appearance, and alignment
During the public comment period, the project will host two public hearings to allow people to give input. Comments also will be accepted by e-mail and mail. All comments received during this time are considered and responded to in the Final EIS.
The alternatives under consideration include:
- No build (included for comparison purposes)
- Replacement bridge with bus rapid transit
- Replacement bridge with light rail
- Supplemental bridge with bus rapid transit
- Supplemental bridge with light rail
The exact publication date for the Draft EIS and the schedule of public hearings will be identified in late February.
Bridge tolls part of finance plans
Finance plans for the Columbia River Crossing project currently assume that the I-5 bridge will be tolled using the latest electronic tolling technology. Additional funding will come from federal, state and regional sources.
The toll amount has yet to be decided. More information is needed on the total cost of the chosen alternative and available revenue. However, project staff analyzed the four Draft EIS build alternatives assuming a one-way toll ranging between $1 and $2.50 in 2006 dollars (or $1.31 – $3.28 in 2017, the year the bridge is expected to open).
CRC is assuming the use of an electronic toll collection system so that toll booths and traffic slow downs can be avoided. Such technology is currently being used at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington.
More information about the project’s tolling plans can be found in the project’s Tolling fact sheet.