A recently released an economic benefits analysis demonstrates replacing the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River will have significant benefits to the economy of the Portland metro region and the Pacific Northwest.
The analysis finds that the project will benefit the economy of the Portland metro region, the state of Oregon, and the Northwest in a number of ways:
· The highway and transit improvements will save travelers a significant amount of time—about 6.8 million hours per year in reduced auto and truck delays, and transit riders will have major time savings as well. By 2030, the estimated traveler savings will exceed $435 million per year.
· Freight-intensive industries that make up a large portion of Oregon’s economy will see reduced costs of moving goods to market.
· Reductions in congestion will provide businesses in Oregon access to larger markets for their goods and services as well as a larger labor market from which to draw skilled workers, making it more likely they can find the best people to meet their workforce needs.
· The project will reduce the risk of catastrophic loss of the existing bridges in an earthquake, which would cause economic hardship due to the inoperability of the West Coast’s main trade corridor.
The analysis includes a cost-benefit analysis that compares the cost of building the project to the benefits that will accrue to the public over time. The value of benefits of the locally preferred alternative is $5.4-7.9 billion, depending on assumptions, much higher than the costs of about $3 billion.
The project was also analyzed using a standard economic model that estimates the overall economic benefits of the project. This model, known as the Transportation Economic Development Impact System (TREDIS) model, has been widely and successfully used in many previous regional, statewide, and national studies. TREDIS estimates that the net economic impacts of the project—including traveler savings and market access and connectivity improvements for businesses—will result in the creation of 4,200 jobs and $231 million in additional wages in 2030 compared to the “no build” scenario.