Meetings will introduce proposed bridge routes

The existing Hood River Tollbridge could be replaced in the future by a floating structure or even a tunnel crossing under the Columbia River channel.

These are two of the options for the type of crossing currently being investigated by four transportation agencies, in partnership with local elected officials and stakeholders in both Oregon and Washington.

On Oct. 12 the three finalist locations for a Highway 35 bridge corridor will be presented for public review at a special open house. The event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at Fidel's Restaurant in Bingen, Wash., and is being hosted by officials from the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, Federal Highway Administration, and both Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation.

The informal event will provide information on the three alternatives listed as most feasible and an explanation of the process used in their selection. These sites include:

* City Center Corridor -- a connection from the Second Street interchange in Hood River to State Route 14 in Washington.

* Existing Low Corridor -- about the same alignment as the existing Hood River Tollbridge.

* East A Corridor -- linking Koberg State Park to Bingen Point across the Columbia.

Three other alternatives were eliminated during a formal review of possible crossings that was undertaken by three separate advisory committees: a resource regulatory committee made up of state and federal agencies, local advisory committee comprised of area residents and business owners and a steering committee of local elected/appointed officials and agency staffers.

According to Dale Robins, SWRTC project manager, committee members and citizens have identified a variety of issues associated with the existing bridge and a potential new or improved crossing. These concerns include the capacity to handle future traffic, safety, use of tolls for financing, ability to accommodate bicycles, pedestrians and freight movement, possible economic impacts from connections between communities in both states and environmental and historical resource protection.

The upcoming detailed review will also factor in the possibility of just upgrading the existing structure or taking no action at all.

Robins said the next step in the process will be to perform a more detailed evaluation of the three alternatives. He said as that work unfolds, the public will be kept abreast of new information through public meetings, presentations to community groups, project newsletters and displays. The background and current status of the project is also kept updated on the SWRTC website: www.rtc.wa.gov/studies/sr35

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