Letter: Risking $2.5 billion

Bob Ortblad warns of what will happen if the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program team’s plan to politically pressure the Coast Guard to accept its Locally Preferred Alternative


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

Washington and Oregon are risking $2.5 billion of federal grants to replace the Columbia River I-5 Bridge. The U.S.Coast Guard has suggested the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program (IBR) consider a tunnel as an alternative to an impractical tall bridge (178-foot clearance). 

Bob Ortblad
Bob Ortblad

The USCG must see that the IBR’s “Tunnel Concept Assessment” is incorrect and misleading. The IBR is ignoring the USCG‘s 178-foot clearance requirement and has pressed municipalities and agencies to approve its “Locally Approved Alternative” (LPA) a too low bridge (116-foot clearance).  

If the IBR‘s plan to politically pressure the USCG to accept its LPA fails, federal funds will go to better projects.

The Washington-Oregon Legislative Committee should support the USCG’s tunnel evaluation recommendation and hire a consultant, independent of the IBR, to do an honest evaluation of an I-5 immersed tunnel. 

Bob Ortblad, MSCE, MBA
Seattle


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Margaret
Margaret
1 month ago

LPA=Locally Preferred Alternative. IBR claims the locals prefer light rail and a bridge too low. However, many cities in Clark County have Not taken a vote on the LPA. Although every city in Clark County REJECTED the 2012 CTRAN proposition to raise the sales tax to extend Oregon TriMet MAX lightrail into Clark County over an I-5 bridge, the Vancouver City Council and Mayor all voted for light rail in the “Locally Preferred Alternative”. Other cities haven’t voted on the LPA, yet most C-TRAN board members supposedly representing their cities chose to ignore the 2012 vote, and voted FOR light rail into Vancouver on an I-5 bridge. Per Clark County Today., Temple Lentz (Clark County Council), Ron Onslow (representing Ridgefield, La Center, Yacolt), Greg Anderson (Camas), Philip Johnson (Battle Ground), Molly Coston (Washougal) voted to support the IBR’s proposal that includes light rail over the I-5 bridge into Vancouver. Only Clark County Chair Karen Dill Bowerman voted in opposition.

Last edited 1 month ago by Margaret
Robert Wallis
Robert Wallis
1 month ago

Anyone know an email address for Bob Ortblad, I would appreciate it.

Jan Roxburgh
Jan Roxburgh
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Wallis

Hi Robert. He is on Facebook, so if you are on FB as well, you could try reaching out to him on there. 🙂

Robert Wallis
Robert Wallis
1 month ago
Reply to  Jan Roxburgh

thanks

Richard L Bullington
Richard L Bullington
25 days ago

A tunnel would be great in principle, but it fails to connect efficiently to SR14 or to serve downtown Vancouver well. The channel is right next to the north bank at the location of the bridge, and so would also be right next to the north bank even if the tunnel were a few dozen yards to the east or west. To attain sufficient depth directly adjacent to the north bank would mean that the north portal would be somewhere north of Mill Plain. Remember that the land slopes up from the river all the way to the SR500 interchange. Getting down to minus 90 feet (forty-five feet of channel depth, twenty-five feet of overburden, and twenty feet of tunnel diameter down to the roadway) would be steep, steep, steep even were the portal just south of McLoughlin.

The right solution to the 178 foot requirement is to put a lift span in a 115 foot clearance replacement bridge. The lift would then be opened a few times a year. That of course means that the bridge probably cannot be “stacked” because the lift structure would be enormously heavy with two four-lane-and-shoulders decks.

Bob Ortblad
Bob Ortblad
25 days ago

USCG and Corps of Engineers would move the channel to the center of the river, changing slope.
Immersed tunnel about 30′ high with 5′ cover, and river only 27′ deep.
However, bridge needs drilled shafts or 250′ because of soft river bottom,

Margaret
Margaret
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob Ortblad

Plez submit a letter to the editor with several drawings of a tunnel, and the benefits vs. a bridge if you like less ice?, earthquake impacts, airspace clear, view clear etc.
So far, residents haven’t seen the graphics of how a 116′ bridge will cast a shadow over Vancouver, or the elevator needed for the transit stations etc.

Last edited 24 days ago by Margaret
Richard L Bullington
Richard L Bullington
23 days ago
Reply to  Margaret

What’s wrong with an elevator for the shoreline station? Beacon Hill in Seattle and Washington Park on the MAX are both elevator only. At this station there would also be stairs for emergency egress.

At the main station there would be no need for elevators. It would be at-grade next to the Library.

Richard L Bullington
Richard L Bullington
23 days ago
Reply to  Bob Ortblad

You can’t “move the channel”, at least not without tearing down the current bridge. It’s in use! So you can’t dig the tunnel with a shallow clearance next to the north bank, because it would have insufficient overburden for safety.

Five feet of overburden is completely insufficient. That can’t even protect against a large dragging anchor, much less a vessel sinking on it. There will be people in that tunnel.

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