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What are the problems?

  • Crashes

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    On average, one collision per day occurs in the CRC project area. This crash rate is nearly double that of similar urban highways due to closely-spaced interchanges, merging and weaving of vehicles and congestion. Collisions are expected to increase if nothing is done. More about crashes ...

    Major collision on the I-5 bridge
  • Congestion

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    About 134,000 vehicles in 2005 crossed the Interstate Bridge each day, creating four to six hours of congestion. With one million more people projected to live in the region by 2030, congestion is expected to extend to up to 15 hours per day. More about congestion ...

    stopped traffic on I-5 northbound within the CRC project area
  • Bridge lifts

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    Bridge lifts cause people and vehicles to stop on I-5 for up to 20 minutes for passage of marine traffic on the Columbia River. Depending on the time of day, it can take hours for traffic to recover from the backup caused by a lift event. Bridge lifts occur about once a day and are the last remaining anywhere on I-5. More about congestion ...

    The current I-5 bridge in the lifted state for a barge to pass
  • Freight immobility

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    $40 billion worth of freight crosses the Interstate Bridge each year. Growing congestion in the corridor threatens truck movement with consequences for our region’s economic ties to trade. Two-in-five jobs in Washington and one-in-five jobs in Oregon are trade-related. Freight truck traffic is expected to increase at twice the rate of passenger vehicles. More about freight immobility ...

    Three freight trucks stuck in traffic due to a bridge lift
  • Limited transit options

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    Existing bus service between Portland and Vancouver is subject to the same congestion as other I-5 traffic. Congestion can cause schedule delays and reduces reliability for riders. More about limited transit options ...

    C-Tran bus service between Portland and Vancouver being subject to the same congestion as other I-5 traffic.
  • Poor bicycle and pedestrian connections

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    The existing pathway on the I-5 bridge is only four feet wide, too narrow for pedestrians and bicyclists to pass each other. Bikers, walkers and runners are exposed to the loud traffic noise, roadway dust, debris and exhaust fumes from the highway. More about poor bicycle and pedestrian connections ...

    A pedestrian stands within the I-5 bridge structure area in order to allow a bicyclist to pass
  • Earthquake risk

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    The I-5 bridge structures were built in 1917 and 1958. Wooden pilings supporting the piers extend about 60 feet into sandy soils. A major earthquake could cause the river soils to act like a liquid, known as “liquefaction.” There is a risk of structural failure of the bridges from shaking and liquefaction. More about earthquake risk ...

    The final ferry departs Vancouver alongside the 1917 Interstate Bridge

The section of I-5 near the Columbia River experiences significant safety and mobility problems. Six primary problems will be addressed with the CRC project: crashes, congestion, freight immobility, limited transit options, poor bicycle and pedestrian connections, and earthquake risk.

Crashes

  • On average, one collision per day occurs in the CRC project area, a rate which is nearly double that of similar urban highways. Closely-spaced interchanges, merging and weaving of vehicles, poor sight lines and congestion all contribute to crashes.
  • Crashes increase significantly during periods of congestion.
  • During bridge lifts, crashes increase by three to four times because drivers do not expect highway traffic to
    suddenly stop.
  • The Interstate Bridge and much of I-5 in North Portland do not have safety shoulders. When crashes occur or vehicles become disabled, there is no room to move them off of the highway and allow traffic to pass.
  • Due to increased congestion, collisions are projected to increase by 80 percent in the next 20 years if nothing is done.

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Congestion

  • About 134,000 vehicles in 2005 crossed the Interstate Bridge on an average weekday, creating four to six hours of congestion. With one million more people projected to live in the region by 2030, congestion is expected to extend to up to 15 hours per day if nothing is done. Daily congestion on I-5 makes trip planning for residents and businesses unreliable, adds millions of dollars in costs for freight-dependent businesses, increases air pollution from idling engines and impacts our quality of life.
  • Crashes increase significantly during periods of congestion and slow traffic flow. On average, 400 collisions occur each year in the project area.
  • Bridge lifts cause vehicles to stop on I-5 for up to 20 minutes at a time to allow river traffic on the Columbia River to pass. Depending on the time of day, it can take hours for traffic to recover from the backup caused by a lift event. Bridge lifts occur once per day, on average.
  • A “hump” in the middle of the Interstate Bridge hinders drivers' view and causes heavy truck traffic to slow down.
  • Congestion on I-5 sometimes causes drivers to attempt cutting through neighborhoods on local roads, creating traffic and safety problems for residents in Portland and Vancouver.

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Freight Immobility

  • Interstate 5 is the most significant north-south freight corridor on the West Coast. It links the western United States with regional, national and global markets. The CRC project area is located near the region’s largest freight facilities, including the Port of Portland and the Port of Vancouver terminals. Fresh food suppliers, tradespeople and local and long-haul truck drivers all depend on a reliable transportation network. $40 billion worth of freight crosses the Interstate Bridge each year. Congestion in the corridor causes shippers and recipients of goods to schedule extra time for deliveries.
  • The Portland-Vancouver area is more freight-dependent than other cities of similar size, according to studies by the US Department of Commerce. One-in-five jobs in Oregon and two-in-five jobs in Washington are tied to trade. Freight industries support about 130,000 family wage jobs at warehouses and distribution centers near the ports of Vancouver and Portland. Every dollar spent on improving transportation generates an economic benefit of at least $2 for the region in the form of travel time and travel expense savings.
  • If nothing is done to address growing congestion over the next 20 years, slow-moving traffic will spread into the mid day, which is the peak travel period for trucks. The cost of truck delay is estimated to increase by 140 percent to nearly $34 million per year by 2030.

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Limited transit options

  • Existing bus service within the project area travels on the highway and is subject to the same congestion as other I-5 traffic. Congestion causes schedule delays and compromises the reliability of transit for riders.

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Poor bicycle and pedestrian connections

  • The existing pathway on the I-5 bridge is only four feet wide, too narrow for pedestrians and bicyclists to pass each other and does not meet standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists are exposed to loud traffic noise, roadway dust, debris and exhaust fumes as they travel close to highway traffic.
  • Pathways leading to the river crossing are indirect, difficult to navigate and some areas lack sidewalks, bike lanes and crosswalks.

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Earthquake Risk

  • The current Interstate Bridge structures were built in 1917 and 1958, respectively. Wooden pilings supporting the piers extend into the river bed approximately 60 feet, but not to the rock of the Troutdale Formation approximately 200 feet below the surface. There is a risk of structural failure of the bridges in the case of a significant earthquake, which could cause the river soils to act as a liquid.
  • The Portland-Vancouver region is known to be seismically active. In 1962 a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck the region, centered in east Vancouver. In 1993, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake in the Willamette Valley caused $28 million in damages. The region has historically been subject to much larger subduction zone earthquakes, the last of which occurred over 300 years ago.

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