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Columbia River Crossing project identified in President Obama’s We Can’t Wait initiative

Published 8/20/2012 8:49:00 AM

The project is included amongst a handful of national priority surface transportation projects

President Obama has announced the Columbia River Crossing project as one of four transportation projects to be expedited through his We Can’t Wait initiative. This designation recognizes the national significance of the project, and will help save time as the federal government expedites permits for the project.

In a joint release, Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington praised the designation highlighting the importance of the CRC project to the regional economy.

As part of a Presidential Executive Order issued in March of this year, the federal Office of Management and Budget is charged with overseeing a government-wide effort to make the permitting and review process for infrastructure projects more efficient and effective, saving time while driving better outcomes for local communities.

CRC began work to apply for federal, state, and local permits after receiving a record of decision approving the environmental analysis and locally preferred alternative from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration in Dec. 2011.

Read the White House news release on the announcement here.

Read the governors’ news release on the president’s announcement here.


Just completed preliminary findings inform general bridge permit work plan

Published 8/16/2012 5:27:50 PM

Additional technical analyses occurred this year related to the replacement I-5 bridge following an extensive user survey. The ongoing analyses have looked at technical feasibility, costs and environmental impacts of avoiding, minimizing or mitigating negative effects to current and future river navigation.

The preliminary findings and work plan may be found here.


CRC reaches out to river users to gather data to inform bridge permit application

Published 8/6/2012 5:10:22 PM

As part of an intensive technical and economic analysis of the Columbia River and the Interstate Bridge, Columbia River Crossing staff has been updating information from river users this summer.  The results of this work will help inform the application to the U.S. Coast Guard for a general bridge permit, which is required before bridge construction beginning in 2014.

Updated river-user data was collected on vessel size, frequency of use and future business plans. Work is ongoing to verify vessel sizes, where necessary.

Impact analyses will be conducted this fall. Based on the updated river user data, CRC will work with vessel, businesses and/or property owners to identify impacts and the most appropriate mitigation strategies, when warranted. At the same time, a regional economic impact analysis will assess the effects of replacing the I-5 bridge to I-5 users, rivers users and the region as a whole.

The river user data and additional analysis will be considered by the U.S. Coast Guard when reviewing a permit application from CRC.

CRC is working to ensure that interests of river users are met while also giving consideration to flight paths over the bridge, freight and transit travel times, sight distances and other safety features, access for nearby communities and the overall cost and schedule of the project.

CRC has worked with the U.S. Coast Guard since 2005 to improve the river crossing and navigation. The proposed mid-level navigational clearance was identified in 2006 by CRC based on a previous survey of river users and airport navigation limits. Some river users have stated they require greater clearances.

CRC will continue to work cooperatively with the U.S. Coast Guard during the permitting process. The formal process to apply for many permits begins once a project has completed its environmental planning process. CRC completed the planning process in December 2011 with receipt of its Record of Decision


Columbia River Crossing project identifies next steps to address river navigation needs

Published 3/7/2012 3:07:52 PM

The construction of the replacement Interstate Bridge requires a general bridge permit be issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, an agency primarily focused on the needs of navigation. We are interested in protecting a clear path for both river navigation and freight movement.

The formal process to apply for many permits begins once a project has completed its environmental planning process. The Columbia River Crossing Project completed the planning process in December 2011 with receipt of its Record of Decision
 
We have been working with the U.S. Coast Guard since 2005 to improve the river crossing and river navigation. Current plans call for about 95 feet above the Columbia River datum, which provides between 75 and 95 feet of navigational clearance depending on water level. This proposed navigational clearance was identified in 2006 by CRC based on a previous survey of river users and airport navigation limits. Some river users have stated they require greater clearances.
 
As part of the general bridge permit process, we are currently performing an updated data-collection effort. CRC has asked Columbia River vessel owners and ports to provide information by mid-March on vessel size, frequency of vessel use and future business plans. This data will be considered as project officials continue to analyze existing and future river navigation clearance needs. The data and additional analysis also will be considered by the U.S. Coast Guard when reviewing a permit application from the Columbia River Crossing project.
 
CRC is working to ensure that interests of river users are met while also giving consideration to flight paths over the bridge, the nearby communities and the overall cost and schedule of the project.
 
We have worked with the Coast Guard to identify the necessary next steps related to the bridge permit process. They include:

  • Collect and review updated river use data from vessel owners, ports and businesses
  • Analyze vessel impacts and investigate minimization opportunities for unavoidable impacts
  • Submit draft bridge permit application for review
  • Hold public comment period
  • Submit final permit application for review
  • Issue permit

We expect the bridge permitting process to be complete early next year.


CRC project wins 2012 National Environmental Excellence Award

Published 3/6/2012 2:49:16 PM

The CRC project has been awarded a national environmental award for its work to evaluate construction effects to fish species. 

CRC received a 2012 National Environmental Excellence Award by the National Association of Environmental Professionals for its 2011 study of potential impacts to threatened and endangered fish in the Columbia River. The project’s submittal, Columbia River Crossing Hydroacoustic Analysis on Threatened and Endangered Fish, was recognized for excellence in demonstrating use of best available environmental technology.

CRC conducted test pile research to measure pile driving noise levels, distance of sound travel, and effectiveness of "bubble curtains" to reduce underwater noise. The results of the study were used to evaluate environmental impacts and plan for construction. The research showed that installation of the test piles can be done primarily by a vibration method.

The Columbia River is a migratory corridor for 16 species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including three endangered runs of salmon. Other species of concern include white sturgeon, Pacific lamprey, and California sea lions. Underwater noise impacts from installation of hundreds of piles could harm these aquatic species. (Piles will be installed to support temporary work platforms during construction of the replacement I-5 bridge.) 

Learn more about the test pile study results here



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