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Talks may soon resume on replacing the aging bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver over the Columbia River.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The I-5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver.Oregon's governor is renewing efforts to discuss a new bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver.

Talks over the proposed Columbia River Crossing collapsed some five years ago after lawmakers in Washington failed to pass the bridge's funding.

The I-5 bridge opened to traffic in 1917 and, for the last 20 years, people have been talking about replacing it.

Now, the proposed bridge may once again become a relevant topic. The issue is partly spurred on by the potential for Oregon and Washington to both lose money if they don't resume talks.

If both states don't come up with a plan for the new bridge, they'll face $280 million in maintenance costs by 2040. If they don't renew talks by September, they'll have to repay the federal government $130 million.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown recently sent a letter to the chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission to ask the Oregon Department of Transportation to coordinate with the Washington Department of Transportation on the project.

Lawmakers in Washington state are also discussing a plan that would fund an office to spearhead the bridge project. If passed, the office would be in place by July 1.

For many Vancouver residents, a new bridge can't come soon enough. Mike Farber said the current situation has been a problem since he moved to the area two decades ago.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle told KOIN 6 News traffic backs up the I-5 bridge for up to nine hours a day. She added that city officials are excited for the bridge project to be back on the table.

"We are sorry we lost it, now we are excited that Oregon is coming back and that the governors have gotten together to help get this going," McEnerny-Ogle said.

The impact a new bridge could have on the region would extend beyond the experience commuters face.

Clark County Councilor John Blom said the congestion has made some businesses think twice before expanding or moving to Clark County. Blom said the county is supportive of reopening talks for a new crossing.

"We passed a resolution early this year supporting some legislation that would reopen the discussion," he said.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can see their story here.


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