RTC says it takes 40 years for a 3rd bridge. Why?

Do you accept 40 years?

My remarks to the July 2, 2019 Regional Transportation Council Board meeting. There’s a lengthy history of efforts to create new transportation corridors and additional bridges over the Columbia River. Sadly our transportation planners on both sides of the river ignore these needs and historical facts.

You can view the CVTV coverage of my comments here.


At last month’s Board meeting, an RTC staffer told us it takes 40 years to plan and create a new cross-river transportation corridor with a new 3rd bridge. Do you believe that? Is that an acceptable answer to this board?

In Minneapolis, the I-35 bridge was replaced in ONE year!

In the Portland metro area, both I-5 and I-84 were planned for in the mid 1950’s. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, I-205 was created in under 2 decades. At the same time, there were plans and routing created for a western bypass. Here is the map of that plan.

In 1977-79, a Washington legislature study found: “Without a new crossing, the I-5 bridge would be overloaded 30% beyond its capacity by the year 2000.” Their report included 5 possible locations for a 3rd bridge. (Here’s their map).

A 1979 Clark County Comprehensive Plan showed extending 179th St. across the Columbia River to US 30 near Scappoose.

A 1980 Washington legislature study concluded: “travel demand on the I-5 corridor beyond the year 2005 will require additional facilities”.

A 1980 OR & WA Governor’s Task Force said “a 3rd bridge would not increase the capacity for interstate travel unless it were accompanied by a new corridor north and south of the Columbia River”. The technical analysis concluded that “the region would not have to revisit the question of additional river crossings until 1990.”

Additionally, that same study recommended “bottlenecks north and south of the I-5 bridge were the limiting factors and not the bridge itself”.

The 1980 Bi-State Study forecast 185,000 cross-river daily vehicle trips in 2000.

A 1988 study show I-205 traffic had already exceeded the 2000 forecast. Today WSDOT reports roughly 310,000 daily crossings.

That 1988 study also discussed the benefits of TWO new bridge crossings, one west of I-5 and one east of I-205.

Finally, your own 2008 RTC “Visioning Study” offered FOUR options for two new bridge crossings and transportation corridors.

What’s it going to take for this Board to show some leadership? When will the RTC take action on a 3rd bridge?

The NEED for additional bridges and transportation corridors has been identified for the past HALF century! If the RTC staffer was correct about 40 years, you’ve owed citizens a completed 3rd bridge for a decade!

Citizens are BEGGING for a 3rd bridge and traffic congestion relief.



The Minneapolis I-35 Bridge replacement story. (Here.)

A 1966 map showing a significant number of possible freeways for the Portland area.

A 1980 Bi-State Governor’s Task Force report.

1979-1980 Washington State Legislature study.

Note the last paragraph. “implementation of TSM measures such as ramp metering, variable message signs and park-and-ride facilities in the I-5 corridor have not improved peak hour congestion levels as forecast in the study.”

A 1988 corridors study.

A 1992 Portland graphic showing a needed western transportation corridor from a Western Bypass Study.


WSDOT’s traffic across the Columbia River.

The 2008 RTC “Visioning Study” map, showing TWO options for a westside bridge and TWO options for an eastside bridge.


Washington County map showing two possible new western highway corridors named the Northern Connector and a South Parkway from current plans.

Oregon Representative Rich Vial proposed two options for a western bypass in the 2017 Oregon legislature. Here is a link to the news story, and the graphic of his proposal, below.