Washington’s I-5 Bridge will be tolled, but another hurdle needs to be cleared

New bridge may need to be raised, which could increase construction costs

March 16, 2012

Tolls are coming to the I-5 Bridge in Washington. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the measure into law on March 15, and by charging motorists to cross legislators hope they can generate about one-third of the $3.4 billion price tag to build a new bridge—the Columbia River Crossing (CRC).

The bill also caps total spending on the new span, which could turn into a serious challenge. The U.S. Coast Guard said the 95-ft height of the bridge is too low for some boats. However, raising the structure could create a problem for air traffic, and could cost an additional $150 million.

“We still have a serious problem with the bridge, and if I had my choice I would stop all spending immediately until the design issue is resolved,” Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver) told The Oregonian.

Toll rates for the I-5 Bridge have not been set yet, and Anne Pressentin, spokesperson for the CRC, said it is too early to know if the charge would be increased if the bridge height needs to be elevated.