The Columbia River Crossing – also known as the Interstate 5 bridge between Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash. – received national priority status from the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday, Aug. 5. DOT says the elite status, extended to only 20 other projects over the last five years, will help reduce the project’s timetable by months if not years.
“The Columbia River Crossing will ease the congestion impacting one of the most important commercial routes in the country,” says Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. “The president’s order is an important step toward making this project a reality so we can get goods to market, and travelers to their destinations efficiently and safely.”
Peters says the priority designation under Executive Order 13274, requested jointly by the Oregon and Washington DOTs, will help speed decision-making by officials while maintaining all federal and state environmental review requirements. “With the environmental streamlining that this Executive Order empowers, we can cut red tape without cutting corners,” she says.
The Columbia River Crossing project, which already has received $15 million in federal funding, is planned to reduce gridlock and improve safety problems on a five-mile stretch of I-5 through a combination of bridge, transit and highway improvements. About one crash occurs daily – a rate that is twice as high as similar highways in Oregon and Washington. The project area stretches from State Route 500 in Vancouver, Wash., to Columbia Boulevard in Portland, including the I-5 bridge across the Columbia River.
FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration share leadership among federal agencies for this project, though others cooperating include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, National Park Service, U.S. General Services Administration and numerous state, tribal and local agencies.
For a list of projects of national significance currently listed under E.O. 13274, click here.