Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council

Columbia River Bridges

Background

The Interstate Bridge is actually a pair of nearly identical steel vertical lift, through-truss bridges that carry Interstate 5 traffic over the Columbia River between Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. The northbound span was opened in 1917 for two-way traffic, and the southbound span was added in 1958, and now carries three lanes in both directions. More history and photos...

The Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge, or I-205 bridge, is a segmental bridge that spans the Columbia River between eastern Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon. It is a twin structure with four lanes in each direction and a 9-ft wide bicycle and pedestrian path in between, which opened for traffic in December 1982. More history and photos...

Columbia River Bridge Crossings, since 1961

Historical average month and average weekday traffic data volumes, across the Interstate Bridge (I-5) and the Glenn Jackson Bridge (I-205), collected over the period 1961 through present. Actual data is shown below graph.

Graph of historical average weekday river crossings, across both bridges combined.

Crossing Data, 1961 - 2016

A good indicator of change in bi-state travel is the number of vehicle crossings over the Columbia River bridges between Washington and Oregon. Daily bridge traffic volumes have been recorded on the Columbia River bridges since 1961. The Interstate Bridge (I-5) carried approximately 33,500 vehicles a day in 1961. Volumes had increased to over 108,000 vehicles a day by 1980. With the opening of the Glenn Jackson Bridge (I-205) in late-1982, total Columbia River crossings had increased to 144,000 vehicles a day by 1985. By 1995, total river crossings had more than doubled compared to 1980 with 222,700 crossings. Glenn Jackson Bridge traffic volumes began to exceed Interstate Bridge traffic volumes on a daily basis in 1999. Total bridge crossings have declined twice since 1961, in 1974 (oil embargo) and 2006-2008 (recession). The Glenn Jackson Bridge had its first vehicle volume decline ever in 2008. Currently total Columbia River crossing are nearing 300,000 vehicles a day.

Both Columbia River bridges are suffering daily congestion during morning and evening peak periods. The Interstate Bridge had reached capacity during peak hours in the early-1990s, and the Glenn Jackson Bridge in the mid-2000s. With both Columbia River bridges reaching capacity in the morning and evening peak periods, peak spreading has occurred. Peak spreading leads to a flattening and longer peak period as trips shift to times immediately before and after the peak demand. The impact of this type of congestion means that the peak hour becomes a peak period that can last three or more hours. The ongoing growth in all-day bridge crossings is now occurring during non-peak periods.

Average Weekday Crossings

Year I-5 I-205 Total Annual Change
1961 33,537   33,537 NA
1962 36,156   36,156 7.2%
1963 36,263   36,263 0.3%
1964 38,324   38,324 5.4%
1965 41,446   41,446 7.5%
1966 45,755   45,755 9.4%
1967 56,757   56,757 19.4%
1968 60,615   60,615 6.4%
1969 64,248   64,248 5.7%
1970 69,151   69,151 7.1%
1971 73,089   73,089 5.4%
1972 77,845   77,845 6.1%
1973 83,038   83,038 6.3%
1974 81,297   81,297 -2.1%
1975 87,255   87,255 6.8%
1976 93,644   93,644 6.8%
1977 97,247   97,247 3.7%
1978 108,033   108,033 10.0%
1979 108,273   108,273 0.2%
1980 108,616   108,616 0.3%
1981 109,676   109,676 1.0%
1982 109,786   109,786 0.1%
1983 89,331 38,412 127,743 14.1%
1984 89,963 46,036 135,999 6.1%
1985 91,367 52,600 143,967 5.5%
1986 92,645 61,613 154,258 6.7%
1987 96,685 68,325 165,010 6.5%
1988 93,812 73,048 166,860 1.1%
1989 92,999 82,812 175,811 5.1%
1990 95,378 87,105 182,483 3.7%
1991 101,190 89,437 190,627 4.3%
1992 107,579 92,979 200,558 5.0%
1993 110,288 93,748 204,036 1.7%
1994 112,988 101,562 214,550 4.9%
1995 116,589 106,103 222,692 3.7%
1996 118,558 113,293 231,851 4.0%
1997 120,644 123,165 243,809 4.9%
1998 124,516 127,568 252,084 3.3%
1999 126,589 130,761 257,350 2.0%
2000 126,903 132,159 259,062 0.7%
2001 125,652 138,664 264,316 2.0%
2002 128,162 141,860 270,022 2.1%
2003 129,657 142,300 271,957 0.7%
2004 130,279 143,358 273,637 0.2%
2005 132,603 145,927 278,530 1.8%
2006 131,916 146,127 278,043 -0.2%
2007 130,389 146,606 276,995 -0.4%
2008 126,278 141,661 267,939 -3.4%
2009 125,436 143,742 269,178 0.5%
2010 126,691 * 145,457 272,148 * 1.1%
2011 128,115 145,054 273,169 0.4%
2012 128,373 145,440 273,813 0.2%
2013 130,511 148,152 278,663 1.7%
2014 132,592 151,735 284,327 2.2%
2015 135,696 158,409 294,105 3.3%
2016 135,496 162,031 297,527 1.2%
* Due to construction on the I-205 bridge, average weekday crossings were estimated in 2010.

Source: ODOT

See Also