Washington, DC — On Friday, it was announced that the Interstate Bridge Replacement program has been awarded $600 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Mega Program funding. Funds from this federal grant will help construct the multimodal program to replace the Interstate Bridge and associated corridor improvements. The Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River connects Oregon and Washington on Interstate 5, which is a critical connection that supports local jobs and families, and a vital trade route for regional, national and international economies.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Transportation submitted a joint application Mega grant request in August 2023, with WSDOT leading the process. The Mega Program (known statutorily as the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program), was created through the national Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to support large, complex projects that are likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility or safety benefits.
Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03), along with Senators Maria Cantwell (WA) and Patty Murray (WA) have also been working to make this grant happen.
Gluesenkamp Perez has spoken directly with Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and hosted White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu in September to underscore the need for this funding to help replace the I-5 Bridge. Additionally, Gluesenkamp Perez, Cantwell, and Murray co-led a bipartisan Washington delegation letter in August in support of the states’ Mega grant application.
The I-5 Bridge project received the highest amount of funding out of 11 awards nationwide. This year, the DOT sought applications for $1.8 billion in Mega program funding from Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024 advance appropriations. This grant marks the second federal grant awarded to the current bridge replacement project; the first, a $1 million seismic study grant, was awarded in October 2022.
Today’s award will fund 8-12 percent of the estimated $5-7.5 billion total bridge replacement project cost. The bridge replacement project remains eligible for other sources of federal funding, including the DOT Bridge Investment Program and the Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant Program.
“From day one, it’s been my mission to bring our federal tax dollars back to Southwest Washington to replace the deteriorating, functionally obsolete I-5 Bridge. It’s the only way we get this huge project done. I pushed for critical Mega program funding every time I spoke with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and I brought White House Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu to tour the bridge and understand the project,”said Gluesenkamp Perez.“I’m excited these efforts have paid off. This Mega program award will be a major step forward toward strengthening the safety and efficiency of this vital interstate artery. I’ll continue working to bring every possible federal dollar home for this project so our local drivers, especially our commuters, and economy can feel the benefits.”
And, the Oregon side is also pleased.
“This is a big moment for the Pacific Northwest and demonstrates the national significance of this effort,” said Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek. “Replacing the Interstate Bridge is a critical infrastructure investment for our local communities, two states, and the entire West Coast. This project will help advance our goal of reducing emissions through a modern, multimodal bridge and will provide an infusion of federal funds to our region that will support local jobs and broader workforce opportunities.”
This year, the Oregon State Legislature committed $1 billion to complete the program, matching Washington’s $1 billion commitment made during the 2022 legislative session. This year, Washington also authorized tolling on the Interstate Bridge, matching the existing tolling authorization in Oregon. When combined, the Mega grant award, other federal grant applications, the $1 billion commitment each from Oregon and Washington, and toll funding will help cover the likely $6 billion in estimated funding needed to construct the program investments.
“I am thrilled to see the strong federal support that this grant funding demonstrates,” said ODOT Director Kris Strickler. “It speaks to the ongoing partnership and collaborative nature throughout the region and builds upon the momentum of the Oregon and Washington legislatures’ $1 billion commitments. This would not have been possible without the support from both our federal delegation and our local partners, which will ensure we have a safe, earthquake-resilient, and multimodal corridor that will benefit our region for decades into the future.”
“The transportation options provided by the IBR program investments will improve access, connectivity, and reliability across the Columbia River and throughout the nearly 5-mile program area,” said WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar. “This is an exciting day that clearly demonstrates that investing in multimodal infrastructure that can provide safe, efficient and accessible transportation options is a national priority and a commitment shared by both states. An effort of this magnitude is a collective effort and would not have been possible without the steadfast collaboration and collective effort of regional partners and our state and federal elected leaders.”
“The importance of this federal investment cannot be overstated,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “We appreciate the support of our congressional delegations to convey the critical need for strong support from the federal level, and to Sen. Cantwell for creating the Mega Grant program in support of projects like ours. Replacing this aging bridge with a crossing that can meet the needs of all travelers for generations to come is of the highest priority. We have been working tirelessly with our Oregon partners to make clear the importance of this project for the people of both states. This grant is a significant step forward.”
The IBR program is actively seeking approximately $2.5 billion from federal grant sources. In addition to the Mega Grant program, IBR applied in November to the Federal Highway Administration Bridge Investment Program. IBR is also pursuing funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant program, which accepted the IBR program into the project development stage in September.
“This grant award marks an important milestone that shows replacing this bridge is a high priority at the regional, state and national levels,” said IBR program Administrator Greg Johnson. “This significant federal investment is critical to provide flexible multimodal funding and continues the strong momentum to get this work done. This infusion of federal dollars into the regional economy will help support tens of thousands of jobs through construction and provides a key piece of funding to successfully deliver a safe and modern multimodal corridor.”
About the bi-state Interstate Bridge Replacement program
Replacing the aging Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River with a modern, seismically resilient, multimodal structure that provides improved mobility for people, goods and services is a high priority for Oregon and Washington. Governors and legislative leadership in both states directed the Oregon Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Transportation to launch the bi-state Interstate Bridge Replacement program to lead this work, recognizing that needed safety and transportation improvements to the existing Interstate Bridge remain unaddressed. Program development centers equity and follows a transparent, data-driven process that includes collaboration with local, state, federal and tribal partners. Visit the program website at www.interstatebridge.org.