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Moving the American Economy - U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Contact: Doug Hecox
(202) 366-0660
DOT 109-08

President Bush Issues Order to Expedite Columbia River Crossing
Long-Awaited Project Receives 'High Priority' Status to Speed I-5 Congestion Relief

WASHINGTON — The Columbia River Crossing, also known as the Interstate 5 Bridge between Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, Wash., received national priority status from the White House today, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. The elite status, extended to only 20 other projects over the last five years, will help reduce the project's timetable by months if not years.

"The Columbia River Crossing will ease the congestion impacting one of the most important commercial routes in the country," said Secretary Peters. "The President's order is an important step toward making this project a reality so we can get goods to market, and travelers to their destinations efficiently and safely."

The priority designation under Executive Order 13274 was requested jointly by the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation. It will help speed decision-making by officials while maintaining all federal and state environmental review requirements.

"With the environmental streamlining that this Executive Order empowers, we can cut red tape without cutting corners," said Secretary Peters.

The Columbia River Crossing project, which has already received $15 million in federal funding, will reduce gridlock and improve safety problems on a five-mile stretch of I-5 through a combination of bridge, transit and highway improvements. About one crash occurs daily — a rate that is twice as high as similar highways in Oregon and Washington.

The project area stretches from State Route 500 in Vancouver, Wash., to approximately Columbia Boulevard in Portland, Ore., including the I-5 Bridge across the Columbia River.

The FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration share leadership among federal agencies for this project, though others cooperating include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, National Park Service, U.S. General Services Administration and numerous state, Tribal and local agencies.

For the nine projects of national significance currently listed under E.O. 13274, visit http://www.dot.gov/execorder/13274/projects/pplist/index.htm  

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