Governors Chris Gregoire of Washington and Ted Kulongoski of Oregon this week appointed an eight-member panel of experts to review plans to build a new bridge across the Columbia River.
The Columbia River Crossing is a joint venture between the states that will connect the cities of Vancouver, Wash., and Portland, Ore., via Interstate-5.
The new bridge would replace an existing structure and be paid for by federal and state funds, as well as toll revenues. The span is expected to cost $2.6 billion to $3.6 billion and would accommodate vehicles, trains, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The two governors appointed the panel of experts to help overcome disputes that threaten to slow planning on the project, which has been in the planning stages since 2005.
“Replacing the bridge over the Columbia River is essential to maintaining the economies and enhancing the livability of the communities in our two states,” Gregoire said in a joint statement. “The independent expert review will provide us assurance that the project has the implementation and financial plans in place to get the job done on time and on budget.”
The panel — which includes experts in land use, design, construction and infrastructure finance — will meet four times, beginning May 19. The group is expected to report its findings by July 30.
A final environmental impact statement is scheduled to be completed this year, and bridge construction is scheduled to begin by 2012 at the soonest and to be completed by 2018.