Image for New Drawings Reveal Taller, Sleeker I-5 Bridge

Design Renderings Depict a Much Larger Bridge Resembling Tilikum Crossing

Drawings released this week depict a higher I-5 Columbia River Bridge replacement that would meet the Coast Guard’s minimum 116-foot river clearance. The modern design would radically reshape the river viewscape at bridge level and below.

Instead of a muddle of green metal spans on the current bridge, the new designs are sleek, closely resembling the appearance of Tilikum Crossing in Portland.

Greater height will allow more walkability on Hayden Island Hayden Island and offer a very different silhouette for viewers on the Vancouver waterfront. Greater height also would mean more impacted I-5 interchanges on both sides of the river.

Interstate Bridge Replacement Program officials, who released the drawings, say there isn’t a final design, but three options – a single-level bridge, a double-decker bridge and a bridge with a movable span to allow tall ships to pass underneath on the river.

An application to the federal government is expected this spring for a replacement that could cost between $6 and $7.5 billion. What one official described as a “modern, active transportation system” would include roadways, improved bike and pedestrian passage and light rail.

Replacing the century-old bridge and easing one of the biggest logjams on I-5 has been a top priority for federal, Washington and Oregon transportation officials. A previous bridge replacement effort faltered when Clark County officials objected to including light rail. Now there is alignment on what the bridge should include, but some remaining disagreement persists on its width and height.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently visited the bridge and gave encouraging signs of federal support for a replacement. He also said there is strong competition for federal funding from other worthy projects.

The public will be able this spring to weigh in on design options when an environmental impact statement is released.