Multnomah County seeks $535M grant for Burnside Bridge replacement
Multnomah County officials will apply for $535 million in federal grant funding to fully cover the costs of the earthquake-ready Burnside Bridge replacement project.
The county board of commissioners directed staff Thursday, May 12, to apply for a package of grants through the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last November.
Identifying a funding source for the project, which officials estimate will cost nearly $900 million, has been a high priority for the county.
The project aims to create a bridge that could withstand a major earthquake in the region, standing as a lifeline across the Willamette River.
Geologists said there's a 1-in-3 chance of a magnitude 8.0 or higher earthquake occurring in the region within the next 50 years, likely causing widespread damage to buildings, roads and other infrastructure. It has been more than 300 years since the last major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault in the Earth's crust running from British Columbia to northern California.
The county will apply for grants through the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program, which provides funding for surface transportation infrastructure projects with significant national or regional impact. The program streamlines applications for three separate federal grants, Megan Neill, the project's manager, told the board Thursday.
"Should this grant be successful, we would then have fully funded" the project, Neill said.
The grant requires a match of $360 million in county funds. Officials plan to issue a bond to pay for the match through the county's Vehicle Registration Fee. Previously, officials said the fee would make $300 million available.
In March, the board approved three alternative design measures that cut the estimated cost of the project by more than $200 million.
People can now review and comment on a supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the project that incorporates the cost-saving measures. The public comment period will end June 13. Officials plan to publish a final environmental impact statement this December.
Design work is expected to begin in late 2022, with construction starting in 2025, pending funds being secured.
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