Mike: The old bridge needs to be replaced. It's unsafe both seismically and traffic-wise. The North bound span was built for the horse and buggy era and the South bound span was built in the 1950's. Both now lack the capacity for the increased traffic, freight mobility and river commerce. It remains the only remaining draw-bridge on the I-5 corridor and is considered a "choke-point" for business and commuters alike. 

Replacing the I-5 bridge has been discussed since the 1980's and in the Locally Preferred Alternative (adopted in 2008) a compromise plan was developed and light-rail was selected as the transit option (over Bus Rapid Transit) for the new bridge as it meets the needs (both present and future) of Portland/Vancouver economic region. Besides the thousands of jobs created during construction, the long term economic benefits for Vancouver and SW Washington's connection to the economic center of our region are clear through increased growth and development from investment in our transportation infrastructure, creating options for getting around connecting to an already established and functioning 56 mile light-tail system. One only needs to look at Portland to understand that light-rail = growth and redevelopment. 

Connecting to Portland with a 2.5 mile light-rail spur is a economic deal that we should not pass up. In the larger system, we pay very little for the initial construction of light-rail as most of the cost is born by the federal government. No increases in local sales tax, no increases in local property taxes, no increases in local B&O taxes leaving those that use the bridge - help pay for the bridge with tolls is a common and conservative user fee. Getting large amounts of people for point A to point B is the job of a transportation system. Creating options to getting there is the job of roads, bridges and transit. 

Will people and businesses be disturbed? Of course - we are building a new bridge across the Columbia River! However, most will be mitigated We are, after all, creatures of habit and all progress and change is resisted. 

But eventually, we have to stop planning and start building. Standing still and arguing over the details as the world goes by is NOT an option. Is it everything we all want? No. Are we all please with the plan? No. It's a compromise - between two cities, two states, and the federal government. A lot of thought and effort from a lot of people, time and money from both sides of the river have gone into this plan. It's time to fund it and build that bridge!