Kraft bill seeks to move toward third-bridge connecting Southwest Washington to Oregon

Rep. Vicki Kraft believes a third bridge across the Columbia River west of the existing Interstate 5 bridge would be the most effective way to reduce traffic congestion between the Vancouver and Portland areas.

Kraft, R-Vancouver, has introduced legislation that would be the first step toward a third-bridge option. House Bill 1835 would provide $300,000 to allow the Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee to hire an independent consultant to evaluate current options for an additional bridge or other connection west of Interstate 5 between southwest Washington and Oregon.

“Simply upgrading or replacing the I-5 bridge would not provide the congestion relief needed on this commuter and freight corridor. That's because the freeway comes to a bottleneck on the Oregon side,” said Kraft.

“You could spend millions to expand lanes on an I-5 bridge replacement, but the traffic is still going to back up on them because of the bottleneck in Oregon. After all that taxpayer money is spent, the outcome is the same — bumper-to-bumper traffic,” noted Kraft. “We need to have a much more effective plan that helps commuters to get to and from work more quickly, and keeps our freight moving to facilitate statewide commerce for our farmers, manufacturers and distributors.”

In December, Kraft wrote a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, asking him to abandon the push for mass transit, light rail or a light-rail capable I-5 bridge replacement.

“The voters of Clark County have opposed mass transit on the ballot as recently as 2013. Elected officials must listen to and respond in accordance with the voters' wishes,” she wrote. “What is truly needed at this time to reduce traffic congestion on the I-5 corridor in Clark County and the Portland metro region is a third bridge or connector between Southwest Washington and Oregon.”

Kraft's bill would require the third-bridge study to provide high-level conceptual designs of the proposed highway options, along with a cost estimate for each. A report to the Legislature of the findings would be due Dec. 1, 2019.

“Another bridge over the river on the west side would help to divert traffic directly off of the I-5 bridge. Even Oregon has recently discussed this as a solution,” added Kraft. “This proposed study would help us move ahead on options that would be more effective toward reducing traffic congestion than just replacing the I-5 bridge.”

The measure has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.


Washington State House Republican Communications