Planning tally for new I5 bridge 1085 million

first_imgConstruction is at least two years away, but the Columbia River Crossing has run up a tab of $108.5 million in planning costs as of the end of September.Those costs are escalating as planners shift toward the home stretch of a multibillion-dollar project more than a decade in the works.Underscoring the complicated and costly nature of the endeavor, a new expert review panel is due to convene for the first time next week.Crossing planners haven’t yet estimated the cost of this new 16-member panel, which meets at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Washington Department of Transportation’s regional office in Vancouver. The panel will focus on the design of the new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia.Like everything else with this project, it won’t be cheap.Spending has escalated as planners work toward a final environmental impact statement and a formal record of decision. Officials had hoped to meet those milestones by the end of this year, but they’ve now been pushed back to the middle of 2011 as engineers incorporate design changes on Hayden Island sought by Portland elected leaders.Planners and consultants burned through $10.7 million between July and the end of September — $3.5 million per month.Crossing officials say the money spent to date is in line with what they expected by this point in the process.Currently estimated to cost $3.6 billion, the proposal would replace the existing twin three-lane drawbridges across the Columbia with 10 lanes, extend Portland’s light-rail transit system to Vancouver and improve five miles of I-5 between state Highway 500 and Marine Drive in Portland. The project is tapping $134 million in state and federal funding set aside to plan for the project.last_img read more