Coast Guard approves lower Columbia River bridge

SALEM, Ore. — The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday approved a new bridge carrying I-5 over the Columbia River and extending Portland’s light-rail system into Vancouver, Wash.

The decision removes a big barrier for the project and gives a boost to Oregon interests who want to build it without funding from Washington state. Still, its future remains in doubt as Oregon lawmakers debate the wisdom of going it alone after the Washington Legislature refused to put up any money.

At 116 feet, the proposed replacement bridge would be lower than the existing span, which lifts to accommodate taller river traffic. Oregon has agreed to pay nearly $90 million to three upriver businesses that may not be able to get some of their products under the lower span.

“Getting the go-ahead from the Coast Guard meets a key viability requirement and makes the project’s path forward clearer,” Matt Garrett, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, said in a statement.

Staff of the Columbia River Crossing project have scaled back their initial plans, which would have included a new light-rail and freeway bridge and new interchanges on both sides. Now, they’re proposing a $2.8 billion project that would replace the bridge, upgrade Oregon’s interchanges and build the light-rail extension, but drop all I-5 upgrades north of State Route 14 in Vancouver.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, a vocal proponent of the project, says funding could come up in a special session of the Legislature scheduled to begin Monday but would more likely be considered later. He says the state needs to secure an agreement with Washington allowing Oregon to pay for upgrades north of the state line.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee supports the project, but it has run into stiff opposition from light-rail critics in the Washington Senate.

The Coast Guard bridge permit will expire if construction doesn’t begin within three years and conclude within five.

More in Local News

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read