Letter: Federal Aviation Administration’s certified dangerous plan

Federal Highway Administration is funding a dangerous bridge

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com

The Federal Aviation Administration’s certification of Boeing’s 737 MAX resulted in two plane crashes and 346 deaths. The FAA issued a $2.5 billion face-saving fine.

Bob Ortblad
Bob Ortblad

In a grim coincidence, the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program (IBR) is asking for $2.5 billion in federal grants to build a dangerous bridge. During the 100-life of its bridge, there will be thousands of crashes and an untold number of injuries and deaths. A 737 software flaw was hidden in a million lines of code. 

The IBR’s I-5 Bridge design flaws are obvious to anyone who has driven across the I-205 Bridge, just upstream. Its grade, curve, rain, wind, and ice make it a perilous crossing. The I-205 Bridge is ranked by Go Save Labs as the nation’s eighth most dangerous accident hotspot. The IBR I-5 Bridge design will be almost twice as steep (4%), have the same weather, antiquated cloverleafs, limited sight distance, a 7% off-ramp to SR-14, and I-205-style curve. Bridge crashes will be frequent and over time injuries and deaths will equal a plane crash.

The Federal Highway Administration recently awarded the IBR its first federal grant, $1 million to do a redundant study on liquefaction during an earthquake. Ten years ago the Columbia River Crossing spent $12 million on a dozen geotechnical consultants and $31 million on WSDOT management and geotechnical studies. Continued funding of the IBR by the FWHA should stop until the IBR has a safe design.

The IBR continues to ignore a safer and less costly immersed tunnel alternative.

Bob Ortblad MSCE, MBA

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