Light rail over the Columbia River is being considered—again

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Washington and Oregon officials were talking about a light-rail option across the Columbia River six years ago, but talks stalled.

Let’s hope they are not calling the fighters back into the ring. Seven years ago the plans of building a new Columbia River Crossing stalled when lawmakers in Oregon and Washington State could not make any headway. However, high-capacity transit talks have surfaced again recently.

Increases in population in the cities of Portland and Vancouver, and the development that comes along with that, are among the factors creating another buzz for a new crossing.

Washington State lawmakers are reassessing bridge options (replacement or alternatives). Back when talks were heated, stakeholders looked at a ferry service, people movers, high-speed rail and commuter rail via Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s tracks across the Columbia River. Light rail was chosen, and a line would have connected Clark College in Washington to an existing light rail line in Portland. The route would cross a new bridge. However, the Washington State Senate ended up rejecting the idea back in 2013.

A new transit analysis is currently under way, and a lot has happened in six years. The Vine, a bus rapid transit line, started in 2017 and wants to expand service to Vancouver.

The Interstate Bridge project will either call for the replacement of the Columbia River Crossing or the addition of more bridges. During the first round of debate several river crossing ideas were examined, including tunneling. Officials say tunneling is still an option.

The Joint Oregon-Washington Legislative Action Committee will receive an update on river-crossing options early in 2021.

Read more articles on rail bridges.

Categories: Bridge/Retaining Walls/Tunnels, Commuter/Regional, Passenger, Rail News, Railroad News, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Track Construction, Track Structure
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