The U.S. Coast Guard has granted a crucial bridge permit for the Columbia River Crossing.
Any new bridge would have to give ships 116 feet of clearance between the water and the roadway.
Three months ago, it was widely understood that a new bridge across the Columbia would not be built anytime soon.
But project director Kris Strickler is optimistic, and says the Coast Guard permit is an important piece.
“This is a big step towards moving the project forward,” he said. “It’s been one of constant conversation both at the project and externally for the last 18 months or more.”
He says they now need to concentrate on a financial plan and catching the attention of politicians in Oregon’s Special Session next week.
The Washington Legislature has not authorized funding. But CRC planners are forging ahead with a pared down project.
It still includes light rail and tolls on I-5 — but there would be no freeway work north of Highway 14 in Washington.
The Coast Guard permit requires construction to begin within three years.