C+S January 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 1 (web)

and services. Furthermore, the IBR pro - gram seeks to address the displacement of historically marginalized communities, placing a massive emphasis on equity through community engagement. Greg Johnson, the IBR program administrator, notes the importance of not only under- standing the historical inequity that was built into our interstate highway system, but also in identifying the communities that need to be heard from as we update these key pieces of infrastructure for a new generation. This particular stretch of I-5 between Port - land and Vancouver has a history fraught with inequity. This stretch of highway was planned and constructed directly through a predominantly Black neighborhood, Al- bina. In turn, many of the neighborhood’s residents were forced to move, relocating throughout the Portland-Vancouver metro - plex. This inequity is only compounded when these same residents are subject to

Courtesy of the Interstate Bridge Replacement program

transit as a main feature of the project both alleviates congestion in the corridor and provides a much needed piece of infrastructure for the communities who are disproportionately affected by the current lack of reliable public transit options across the bridge. The IBR program’s plans for the new facility are also focused on mak - ing sure it can withstand a significant seismic event. According to Johnson, the most likely seismic event will come from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which is roughly 70 years overdue for a significant movement. The current bridges’ wooden pilings set in silty soil as well as its lift design make it likely that the structure will collapse during the next significant earthquake. This new seismically-resistant, multimodal facility will have not only a modern design that improves safety and travel reliability, but it will also support other modes of transportation. In doing so, this new facil - ity not only lessens the risk of bridge failure and driving accidents, but also in reducing congestion and idling time for trucks and smaller vehicles. This has the dual impacts of improving the quality of life for the people who use the bridge as well as reducing emissions that stem from traffic congestion. The IBR program is currently in the environmental and community engagement phases of the project, and intends to begin construction on the new facility in 2025.

the safety and financial issues that come as a result of the aging piece of infrastructure. Johnson believes that by addressing the concerns of the groups that were disproportionately affected by the original con- struction of I-5, the new iteration of the infrastructure will be planned and built on the basis of equity. One of the defining pieces of the IBR program is a focus on the surrounding community, particularly in placing an emphasis on equity and addressing concerns with how communities are affected by climate change. To do this, Johnson and the IBR program created an Equity Advisory Group as well as the positions of Principle Equity Officer and Principle Climate Officer that continually assess how the project can improve from an equity and sustainability perspective. The Equity Advisory Group, which meets once a month, consists of equity professionals from across the region who look at the project’s processes and outcomes to ensure equity and community outreach who make recommendations to ensure equity in both processes and outcomes for the program. With a 5-7 year timeline of construction on the new bridge as well as a $3-5 billion investment, Johnson sees this as the perfect opportunity to plan and design the bridge in a way that will significantly improve the lives of those in the community. Currently, one of the biggest challenges facing these underserved com- munities is a lack of access to reliable public transit crossing the river. As the area’s population increases, so too do the issues of congestion. According to the IBR program, the population in the program’s area has grown by 17 percent since 2000, including a 49 percent increase in BIPOC population. The IBR program’s plan is to build a new, multi - modal facility that includes high-capacity transit (HCT). This not only provides an option to those who would otherwise drive, but it serves as a critical piece of infrastructure for the 15 percent of households in the area who do not own a vehicle. The decision to include high capacity

LUKE CAROTHERS is the Editor for Civil + Structural Engineer Media. If you want us to cover your project or want to feature your own article, he can be reached at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.



January 2023

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