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

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