Oregon scores $600 million in federal funding for I-5 bridge replacement

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Oregon received $600 million in federal money to help support the long-planned reconstruction of the Interstate 5 bridge that connects Portland to Vancouver, Washington.

The project received the full funding amount requested from the U.S. Department of Transportation grant program, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek said in a statement.

“This is a big moment for the Pacific Northwest,” Kotek said. “Replacing the Interstate Bridge is a critical infrastructure investment for our local communities, two states, the West Coast, and our nation.”

The Interstate 5 bridge that connects Portland, Oregon, and southwest Washington was awarded $600 million toward a reconstruction project expected to alleviate congestion.

Oregon Department of Transportation

The I-5 Bridge project received the most funding of the 11 awards nationwide in the so-called Mega Grant Program.

The federal DOT sought applications this year for $1.8 billion in Mega program funding for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 advance appropriations. The grant marks the second federal grant awarded to the current bridge replacement project; the first, a $1 million seismic study grant, was awarded in October 2022.

The bridge traverses the Columbia River and is a key component of I-5, which starts in Washington and continues into southern California. The bridge serves more than 130,000 vehicles daily and experiences epic congestion, according to a Friday release from several Washington state Congress members.

The bridge is three-quarters of a mile long and 531 feet wide. It has a drawbridge providing 176 feet of river clearance for river vessels when fully opened.

The project is expected to advance Oregon and Washington’s mutual goals of “reducing emissions through a modern, multimodal bridge,” Kotek said.

“It will provide an infusion of federal funds to our region that will support local jobs and broader workforce opportunities,” she said. “I appreciate the hard work of transportation leaders in Oregon, Washington, and the federal government for making this possible.”

The federal funding was initially announced Friday by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Washington.

“Today marks a mega win for the state of Washington: Finally, the 100-year-old I-5 Bridge is getting a federal down payment,” Cantwell said. “I was proud to author the Mega Grant Program to help us tackle transportation projects that drive the economies of entire regions but are too large and complex for one community or state to fund alone.”

This is the second year of the program, Cantwell said. Previous recipients of Mega Grant funding include the New York-New Jersey Gateway tunnel, and the Ohio-Kentucky Brent Spence bridge.

“Cross-state corridors are winning the day under my Mega Grant Program because these investments actually help us improve the flow of commerce to grow our regional and national economies,” Cantwell said. “Older bridges were never designed to carry this volume of people and freight, and the consequence is that they become a pinch point for the economy and a headache for daily commuters, stymieing economic growth.”

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