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Out of the spotlight, but still making steady progress – The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program

Construction is still 3-5 years away, but vigorous public outreach will begin soon

PORTLAND, Oregon — On Thursday, project leaders announced that major national engineering firm W-S-P will be guiding the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program project forward, starting sometime in August.

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) spokesman Travis Brouwer said on the uniqueness of this project, “This is a multi-billion-dollar bi-state multi-modal mega project. And in fact, it is to my knowledge, the first Bi-State multi-modal mega project in the nation. And as a result, it is uniquely complex. And so we need to bring in some of those really smart people, the national experts to supplement our own staff and to work with officials in the region to move this project forward.”

The team has spent the last few months organizing with the ports, cities and transit agencies.

Just last month, they announced a program administrator, Greg Johnson who’s now on-site and leading them into another major arena: public discussion.

Though construction is likely still 3-5 years away, expect to see a steady stream of public announcements for community discussions, and a lengthy comments period -soon.

The current Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River is considered one of the worst transit bottlenecks in the United States. The northbound span is more than 100 years old and both spans would collapse in the event of a major earthquake. Routine maintenance on the bridge currently runs more than $1,000,000 annually.

In September, the northbound span will close for two weeks for trunnion replacement. During the closure, all traffic crossing the bridge will use the southbound span.

Read more on that here from ODOT. 

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Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transportation reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram

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