Letter: IBR dishonest or incompetent?

Engineer Bob Ortblad challenges estimate discrepancies in the IBR’s Tunnel Concept Assessment.
Bob Ortblad

Bob Ortblad believes the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program has lost credibility

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

For two years the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program (IBR) has lied to the public and political leaders about the feasibility of an I-5 immersed tunnel alternative. Faced with proof of a lie, it is not admitting dishonesty but pleading incompetence. 

Two years ago, the IBR issued its “Tunnel Concept Assessment” that disqualified an immersed tunnel alternative. During the IBR’s initial presentation, I questioned the extremely large estimate of excavation and dredging. IBR’s estimate of 7.9 million cubic yards is four times a realistic estimate of 2.1 cubic yards. I asked for supporting calculations but was denied.

Recently, from a Public Disclosure Request, I received the calculations. After a brief analysis, I confirmed their estimate was wildly inflated by millions of cubic yards. I asked the IBR to explain my analysis and after three weeks an email admitted IBR errors. However, the IBR plans to ignore this massive error and continue to disqualify an immersed tunnel alternative.

The IBR claims to have spent over $100,000 on its “Tunnel Concept Assessment.” Prepared by WSP Engineering, with an annual revenue of $10 billion. Thirteen professional engineers and four tunnel consultants signed the report. For two years I continued to tell the IBR the report was incorrect. The IBR did not respond with facts, belittled my criticism, then boasted about the engineering credentials of the report’s signers. 

The IBR must retract its “Tunnel Concept Assessment” and it must be replaced with an honest evaluation by a qualified immersed tunnel consulting firm, independent of the IBR. This evaluation must be included in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement being prepared by the IBR. 

Bob Ortblad MSCE, MBA

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  1. Alexander Marinesko

    CRC accomplished nothing, IBR looks to follow along. What will we call it in a couple years from now? What is needed is a new route for I-5 around Portland and Vancouver. It appears to be just a bridge to far…….

  2. Margaret

    Would like to see a third crossing west of the I-5 bridge. Bridge lifts could be reduced if personal bridge lift requests for individual large recreational vessels were limited in time of day and frequency. The outdated plan of allowing a personal bridge lift for a sailboat at 6 PM on a weekday isn’t wise.


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