Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council

Transportation Issues in the News

Below are an assortment of recent news items related to or impacting local transportation issues. Most of these stories were authored outside the agency, and will take you to a new page on (or PDF document from) an external site.

Group sets goal of recommending new Interstate 5 Bridge’s blueprint by January - September 15, 2021
The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program’s ambitious timetable calls for the bistate project’s office to produce a single recommended configuration for a replacement Interstate 5 Bridge in as little as four months, releasing the plan publicly in January. Officials from Vancouver, Portland, Metro and other regional governments and agencies generally appeared to be on board with the compressed schedule at a Wednesday morning meeting of the program’s Executive Steering Group, but several members urged the project staff to make sure the selection process remains comprehensive enough to avoid any surprise issues popping up later.
Oregon panel gives conditional OK to I-5 Rose Quarter freeway cover design - September 9, 2021
The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Thursday to give conditional approval to an updated design for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project’s freeway cover component. The added conditions reflected skepticism expressed by multiple commissioners about whether the project would be able to obtain the estimated $400 million of additional funding that the new plan would require. The updated plan, referred to as “Hybrid 3,” was one of several options that the project office developed in conjunction with community groups and an outside consultant after the commission directed staff last year to take another look at the freeway cover plan and come up with new designs to provide greater restorative justice for the surrounding Albina neighborhood.
Ridgefield to celebrate Pioneer Street railroad overpass - September 1, 2021
Ridgefield residents won’t have to wait much longer to start using the new Pioneer Street railroad overpass. The $15 million project is wrapping up the final bits of construction and is targeted to open to traffic by the end of October. The last pieces of the security fence are about to be installed, according to Port of Ridgefield executive director Brent Grening. After that, the Washington State Department of Transportation and BNSF Railway will need to check the structure and sign off. “Once that’s done, it’s pretty much good to go,” he said.
Clark County population tops 500,000 - August 13, 2021
Clark County has cracked the half-million population mark, adding residents at a rate that made it the fastest growing county in the Portland-Vancouver metro area and second-fastest-growing county in Washington. The milestone was a top highlight of 2020 census data released Thursday. The county’s population rose from 425,363 in the 2010 census to 503,311 in 2020. The county’s 18.3 percent growth rate for the decade was exceeded only by Franklin County.
Bridges, rail, airports: What’s Washington’s cut of the Senate’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill? - August 11, 2021
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday would funnel billions of dollars of federal cash to Washington. The money would be spent on projects ranging from roads, rail lines and airport improvements, to upgrades to the transmission grid to handle the demands of a power industry shifting to cleaner sources of energy. Both of Washington’s Democratic senators – Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray – are committee chairs, and helped craft the package. The funding includes some high priority Northwest items, including salmon restoration, forest thinning, prescribed burns and monitoring and cleaning up the toxic legacy of firefighting chemicals that have contaminated drinking water. Washington and Oregon, through a new fund, also could seek money to help replace the Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Columbia River.
Opinion: Building a new Columbia River bridge on a foundation of equity - July 14, 2021
I was 4 when my family was told, “you gotta move.” The Michigan State Highway Department was planning to level our family home to build a highway. While I was too young to recall many of the details, I remember the frustration my father felt. He was a man who took pride in his work, worked hard for his family and aspired to one day work at the highway department. The organization he hoped to join was now undermining the sanctity and stability of his family home. My family’s experience is all too common. Communities of color continue to experience displacement. Historically, we have not had a voice in either the process or the outcome of mega-transportation projects. Rather, we have been invited to meetings only after decisions have been made and without time to share the impact those decisions may have on our neighborhoods and our communities. I know this doesn’t have to be the way forward. I know we can do better. The effort to build a new bridge spanning the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon gives us the chance to show how it should be done.