Local government elected officials from the Mid-Columbia Region have formed a bi-state working group that meets regularly to collaboratively address issues and take actions necessary to keep the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate bridge replacement project moving forward as the required environmental studies progress toward completion, expected in late 2021.

The Port of Hood River owns and operates the nearly 100-year old bridge and supports the bi-state effort, said a press release. “We feel that the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) work is progressing,” stated Port of Hood River Commissioner John Everitt. “But there is pent up demand to begin working as a region on very important issues that will be upon us when NEPA is complete.”

The six-member working group has written joint letters of support for a Port of Hood River federal US Dept. of Transportation grant aimed at funding engineering and design work that will follow the NEPA process. Before that, the group also signed a joint letter stating their combined interest in jointly moving forward with the bridge replacement and have engaged with Steve Siegel, a Portland-area transportation and financing consultant responsible for some of the largest capital projects in the Portland metro area, to explore and evaluate potential governance and ownership structures for the future bridge.

“I’m excited to be working with the Hood River community on this project that’s been looming over us for decades,” Klickitat County Commissioner David Sauter said. “I really feel the entire region is on the same page, and that is a great indicator of future success.”

The Working Group will be looking at other issues including traffic and revenue studies required for bonding, the effects of various tolling policies, project delivery concepts including public private partnerships (P3), necessary statutory changes required in state laws, and advocating for funding to complete the financing and construction of the replacement bridge, said a press release.

The Preliminary Cost Estimate for a new bridge is about $300 million, but more engineering is required to determine more accurate costs, said a press release.

Port staff has facilitated the Working Group meetings and funds for the studies considered by the Working Group are funded via a $5 million Oregon Legislative appropriation.

For more information, contact Kevin Greenwood, Port of Hood River Bridge Replacement Project Director, at 541-961-9517 or at kgreenwood@portofhoodriver.com.

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