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U.S. Coast Guard approves I-5 replacement bridge project to go forward

​ODOT News

Sept. 27, 2013

For more information: Kris Strickler, 360-816-2201 office, 360-904-1231 cell

Today the United States Coast Guard granted the I-5 bridge replacement project a general bridge permit (pdf) to construct a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River at a height of 116 feet and remove the existing obsolete bridge. The Coast Guard has statutory authority to approve the location and clearances for all bridges over navigable waterways. In considering a permit application, the Coast Guard must promote and expedite projects that facilitate national and international commerce and provide for the reasonable needs of present and prospective land and marine transportation.
The I-5 bridge replacement project submitted a general bridge permit application in January 2013. It included extensive vessel surveys, technical and engineering studies as well as economic benefit analysis. The permit application reflected a commitment to avoid impacts to river users while being mindful of costs, environmental and community impacts, future river needs and other transportation needs in the corridor, including air, freight, transit and autos.
“This is a major step forward that recognizes the importance of this project and its economic benefits to the state, region, and nation,” said Matt Garrett, ODOT’s Director. “Getting the go-ahead from the Coast Guard meets a key viability requirement and makes the project’s path forward clearer.”
Key economic findings submitted as part of the application included:
  • The total value of economic benefits from replacing the I-5 bridge and updating interchanges is $5-8 billion.  The project will result in the creation of 4,200 jobs and $231 million in additional wages in 2030 compared to the “no build” scenario.
  • The project will eliminate 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.
  • Highway and transit improvements will save travelers about 6.8 million hours per year in reduced auto and truck delays compared to the “no build” scenario.  By 2030, the estimated traveler savings will exceed $435 million per year compared to the “no build” scenario.
  • Reductions in congestion will provide businesses in Oregon access to larger markets for their goods and services and a larger labor market from which to draw skilled workers.
The Coast Guard permit granted today allows the project to construct the I-5 replacement bridge over the Columbia River at the 116-foot vertical clearance identified in the application.  Included in the permit are conditions associated with removing the existing bridge, construction timing and sequencing. The mitigation agreements with three potentially impacted metal fabricators were submitted August 29 and aided the Coast Guard in its decision to grant the permit.