Concerns about the height of the proposed Columbia River Crossing project may force some rethinking of the bridge's current design. The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver reports that the Coast Guard is not ready to sign off on the planned height of 95 feet.
Fred Harding is the Port Captain for Shaver Transportation, one of several firms that sends tug boats and barges up and down the Columbia loaded with freight. He says there's already more traffic than most people realize moving under the Interstate Bridge each day, working in their bridge lifts around rush-hour traffic.
Harding said, "There is on average, I would guess two each way, every 24 hours, on average. Presently we try to manage our time so we stay out of the closure period for rush hour."
Harding says the barges need at least 100 feet of clearance to safely pass under the bridge.
If the bridge isn't high enough, he says operators may have to spend more money on extra tugs to get their barges through faster. If the bridge were low enough, it might make some kinds of barge traffic impossible.
The project can't proceed unless the Coast Guard certifies the bridge is high enough to be functional.