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$3 million earmark adds third lane to Graham Road near Interstate 84 in Troutdale.

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Oregon Department of Transportation officials say the Interstate 84 overpasses at Graham Road in Troutdale are crumbling and need to be replaced soon. Graham Road will inflate to three lanes when a planned rebuild of two Interstate 84 overpasses in Troutdale starts up in the next year or two.

The reason? A special earmark added to a statewide transportation bill.

The Oregon Department of Transportation had already locked up at least $15 million for the project, which will replace both the east and westbound bridges spanning Graham.

However, as The Outlook previously reported, ODOT didn't have enough money to add a third lane to the well-traveled thoroughfare, which leads directly to the I-84 on ramp.

"That's a stacking problem for the vehicles underneath there," City Manager Ray Young said at a Council meeting Tuesday, July 11. "They were going to leave us with two itty-bitty lanes."

Young said he met with Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, during a press junket for Amazon.com, which plans to build a large fulfillment center in the city's industrial park. Many truckers already take Exit 17 at Graham Road to reach a FedEx Ground hub at the property.

"As politicians are wont to do, (Gorsek) said, 'What can I do to help you?'" Young recalled.

Gorsek added a $3-million rider to a transportation package that's worth roughly $5.3 billion. The bill still awaits the signature of Gov. Kate Brown.

"We made sure that access to our East County industrial area was made a specific item in the transportation package to stregthen thriving businesses and attract new investment," Rep. Gorsek said in a text message.

The two interstate bridges are both more than a half-century old, and together ferry approximately 25,000 cars each day heading toward Portland or deeper into the Columbia River Gorge.

The designs already include a 10-foot-wide protected sidewalk on Graham Road, plus a new bike lane on the shoulder. The project is expected to be fully completed by 2020.

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