PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski took a tugboat ride beneath the Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River and urged regional leaders to press on with a multibillion-dollar project to replace the aging structure.
He called the bridge "our economic lifeblood" on Wednesday.
The project would replace the existing spans with a 10- to 12-lane bridge and improve five miles of freeway interchanges. Kulongoski's push comes as a council of local, regional and state leaders that oversees the project gets ready to meet Friday in Portland, Ore., to decide what comes next.
Project engineers recently came up with a way to trim the expense of the bridge and other facilities by millions of dollars, bringing the total estimated cost down to a range of $2.6 billion to $3.6 billion.
The key West Coast corridor is frequently jammed with rush hour traffic between Portland and Vancouver, Wash.