Letter to the editor: Lower profile I-5 bridge would be more appealing

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A low-profile Interstate 5 draw bridge would be more visually appealing for Vancouver waterfront businesses and restaurants than a tall double deck bridge as proposed by the IBR Program. This year, the Vancouver waterfront was voted No. 13 on Fodor’s Travel website. I cannot imagine Vancouver would keep that rank if a tall Portland-type Marquam Bridge was built on the waterfront. A lower profile I-5 bridge would be vastly more appealing. The tall CRC designed bridge was to avoid many bridge lifts. Just changing the BNSF bridge would reduce over 90% of the bridge lifts and improve tow boat safety. The modification to the BNSF bridge was recommended in 2002 by the U.S. Coast Guard for safety reasons.

At this time, the IBR design options show light rail transit included in the new bridge into downtown Vancouver. Light Rail Transit would be a good addition to the city of Vancouver. Future light rail extensions would need costly and disruptive construction in Vancouver to expand into Clark County.

I asked the IBR Executive Steering Committee on July 15 if the existing railroad owners in Clark County have been included in the IBR study.

The Vancouver-Portland freight rail line intersection is the most congested rail intersection on the West Coast. Do you ever wonder why the freight locomotives idle for hours in Vancouver?

Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and Union Pacific might be open to solutions to this bottleneck. Passenger rail and freight movement have common solutions. Regional passenger rail service is needed for crossing the Columbia River to reduce climate change and would reduce highway travel on the I-5 bridge and Rose Quarter. The Cascades train is now a 15 minute train ride from Vancouver to Portland every day.  High Speed Rail can also be a future transportation solution for I-5 freeway congestion. Adding additional rail capacity to existing rail corridors is less costly than adding freeway lanes or expanding light rail. A public-private solution is possible and the IBR program should study this reasonable solution.

A solution to climate change is to add electric passenger trains to the existing rail corridors from Battle Ground, Ridgefield and Camas. The reduction of fossil fuel is enormous. A 40 passenger diesel bus consumes one gallon of diesel to go about 5.5 miles.  An electric bus uses 2.3 KWH per mile, which is equivalent to 27 miles per gallon. A 150 passenger electric rail car uses about 3.5 KWH of electricity per mile. Stadler battery powered rail cars are running in Germany where they are moving away from fossil fuel economy. Electric passenger rail service needs to be studied by the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program.

Dave Rowe,

Battle Ground

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