To the Editor:
Presently, there isn’t enough money available to replace the aging Interstate 5 bridge in the manner currently envisioned. But there still might be a way to build the badly needed replacement by constructing a new crossing in stages.
Phase one: Build a northbound span. Include an emergency access lane.
Phase two: Open the new northbound span and convert the existing steel bridge to southbound only traffic. This change will immediately cut the traffic flow over the old bridge by one half which will greatly extend the life of the bridge. Provide for emergency access.
Phase three: Construct a new southbound span when future funding becomes available. Include an emergency access lane.
Phase four: In time, dismantle and remove the existing and worn steel bridge. Or adapt it to accommodate light rail to create an experimental light rail link between Portland and Vancouver.
By building the new crossing in stages it may be easier to align existing and new roadways and lanes which will minimize the need for right-of-way purchases.
Designers and planners will argue that there is no project engineering economy by having to mobilize for construction more than once and in an ideal situation this would be correct. But realistically, there may be no alternative to constructing the project in phases. There simply isn’t enough money available to build a complete replacement all in one step.