By DON McINTOSH
The proposal to replace the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River got its first big federal funding commitment Dec. 15 when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the project will receive a $600 million grant. That’s on top of $1 billion the Washington Legislature committed during its 2022 session, and another $1 billion authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 2023. The two states hope to get $2.5 billion total from federal sources, including funds to pay for light rail. The total budget to replace the bridge is estimated at over $6 billion.
More than 130,000 vehicles move over the bridge daily, but one of the bridge’s two spans is 105 years old and is considered at risk of collapse in the event of a major earthquake. A previous campaign to replace the bridge failed in 2014.