Money to build Columbia River Crossing won’t come easy

Officials want to break the project up into phases to avoid lump-sum payout, but flow of construction area makes task difficult

News The Columbian September 29, 2010
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Funding for the Columbia River Crossing will be tied together, and now transportation officials in the states of Washington and Oregon just need to find a way to untie the project.

Earlier this year a panel made out a list of 30 recommendations for the $3.6 billion job, and the Washington State and Oregon DOTs accepted them on Sept. 28. The I-5 Bridge, which is anticipated to cost $800 million, will be the main feature of design and construction for the project, which will include upgrading five miles of freeway and extending Portland’s light-rail transit system to Vancouver. Funding is going to be tough, with the federal government, Washington and Oregon, and toll from the I-5 bridge attempting to handle the burden.

A solution to the mega price tag was to break the project up into phases, but that might be difficult to do considering the flow of the route.

“How to manage cash flow and keep each funding source tied to the appropriate work will be a challenge on this project,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond and Oregon DOT Director Matt Garrett in a joint statement.

The panel also suggested that the owners should increase efforts in terms of public involvement, review the bridge type selection, create a long-term project management plan and update cost estimates. Officials want the project to be executed soon to avoid any further delay costs.

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