VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed an agreement Monday to work together to replace the I-5 Bridge that connects their two states.
The governors’ action reinvigorates a goal to replace the twin spans across the Columbia River, which opened in 1917 and 1958.
The two-page memorandum of intent signed by the two governors takes effect immediately and lasts for five years. It makes a handful of commitments, including opening a joint Oregon-Washington project office that will re-evaluate the purpose and need and permits for an earlier, failed Columbia River Crossing project and evaluating the scope of the new effort, as well as a schedule and budget for replacing the bridge.
A draft report by the project office is scheduled to be released to the two states by Dec. 1, with a final report by Dec. 1, 2020.
Inslee called the bridge an “arterial for the economies and the lives of the entire states of Washington and Oregon.”
“We know it is mandatory we replace this bridge,” he said. “We do not have an option. This bridge has to be replaced.”
Brown said her top two priorities are to build an earthquake-resilient bridge with high-capacity transit.
“We have to invest in the bedrock of our states’ economies, and that’s infrastructure,” she said. “When working properly, infrastructure goes unnoticed. But without it, we are literally in for a bumpy ride.”
The Columbia River Crossing project was started in 2004 as a bi-state megaproject. The project came to a halt in 2013 when Washington lawmakers decided not to pay their share.