I-5 bridge replacement plan receives $600 million in federal funding


Washington legislators announced Friday that they have secured federal funds to help replace the Interstate 5 Bridge between Clark County and Portland.

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) and Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray announced that the IBR Program will receive $600 million in federal funds from the Department of Transportation’s National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program, or Mega program, as stated in a press release by MGP Press.

Gluesenkamp Perez spoke with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and hosted White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu in September to underscore the urgent need for funding to replace the I-5 Bridge. Gluesenkamp Perez, Cantwell and Murray also co-led a bipartisan Washington delegation letter in August in support of the states’ grant application.

The I-5 Bridge project received the most funding out of 11 awards nationwide. This year, the DOT sought applications for $1.8 billion in Mega program funding. 

The new $600 million federal grant is the second awarded to the current bridge replacement project. The first was a $1 million seismic study grant, awarded in October 2022, according to the press release.

The $600 million grant will fund 8 to 12% of the estimated $5 billion to 7.5 billion total project cost. The project remains eligible for other sources of federal funding, including the DOT Bridge Investment Program and the Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant, the press release stated.

“From day One, it’s been my mission to bring our federal tax dollars back to Southwest Washington to replace the deteriorating, functionally obsolete I-5 Bridge. It’s the only way we get this huge project done,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in the release. “I’m excited these efforts have paid off. This Mega program award will be a major step forward toward strengthening the safety and efficiency of this vital interstate artery.”

The I-5 Bridge is crucial for the regional and national economy and plays a vital role in transporting freight along the I-5 corridor. The bridge replacement program reports that $132 million of freight crossed the I-5 Bridge daily in 2020. An estimated total of $97 billion in goods traveled by truck either from Washington to Oregon or California, or from Oregon or California to Washington in 2022, according to the Bureau of Transportation statistics. The route is also vital for international export, with nearly $2 billion of goods from California and $750 million of goods from Oregon trucked to Canada via the I-5 corridor, according to the press release.

The bridge is rated the worst truck bottleneck in Washington and Oregon, and the fifth worst on the West Coast, with seven to 10 hours of congestion during the morning and evening commute periods, the press release stated.

The entire structure is at risk of collapse in the event of a major earthquake due to lack of seismic retrofit, the press release stated. One span is more than a century old, and the other is more than 65 years old.

Annual maintenance costs are about $1.2 million per year. Larger maintenance projects needed to simply maintain the bridge are expected to cost $280 million by 2040, not including the cost of a seismic retrofit. The maintenance costs are currently split equally between the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation.