Columbia Interstate Tunnel


A. The Problem:

1.   Extreme Traffic Congestion - Traffic congestion thru the I-5 corridor between Portland and Vancouver is having an economic impact on the region and the States of Oregon and Washington.  The traffic congestion continues to worsen every year and efforts to find a solution have resulted in millions of dollars being spent studying the situation without solutions that integrate future growth for both short and long term traffic demands.

2.   Insufficient Funding - Serious state budget problems are preventing major highway projects from being built, in spite of increases in gas and use taxes.  Funds are insufficient when following the current traditional paradigm of “Design-Bid-Build” with traditional funding through government grants and road use taxes.  The funds are not available through normal the funding paradigms followed over the last 50 years.

3.   Ineffective & Expensive - Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent studying various alternative designs for a new Columbia River Crossing (CRC) with alternative bridge options and light rail concepts.  Up to this time, the transportation departments of the States of Washington and Oregon had focused on building a bigger bridge.  While the bridge capacity was the focus and even if the bridge were replaced, the bottleneck south of the bridge in North Portland would remain even with an increased bridge capacity.  To this point, the proposed designs have ignored the local community desires to retain a community-friendly approach that avoids an expanded and elevated freeway.


B. The Solution:

1.   Private-Public-Partnership - Using a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-P3 (Private-Public-Partnership) delivery method between the two states, the federal agencies and a Private entity (CIT Plan Sponsor); a privately funded, designed and constructed solution is practical and available. This solution would leave the current Interstate Bridge in place (providing the added funds on any seismic upgrades) and provide an alternative route for commercial and commuter traffic that bypasses the bottleneck and the Interstate Bridge.
The Premier Project Consulting Group has developed alternative cost-effective design solutions for consideration.  These solutions are complimentary designs, which will relieve the traffic congestion and traffic bottleneck - INDEPENDENT of any bridge design or any future bridge changes or bridge re­ design solutions. These complimentary solutions would be provided through a Design-Build-Finance ­ Operate- P3 (Private-Public-Partnership) delivery method and includes possible options described as follows:

(7.85 Mile Tunnel - consisting of a 7.85 Mile Bored Section).  This option minimizes community and traffic disruption and takes the "Through" traffic from the area of the intersection of l-5 and I-405 to Leverich Park area in Vancouver (l-5 and Highway 500) with one intermediate on ramp located near Columbia Boulevard in North Portland to provide for freight vehicles and emergency access.

(7.85 Mile Tunnel – consisting of 2 Sections = 3.51 Mile Bored Tunnel Section + 4.34 Mile Open Cut Tunnel Section). This Option would take the "Through" traffic from the area of the intersection of 1-5 and I-405 and bring it to the Leverich Park Area (I-5 and Highway 500) with one intermediate on-off ramp located near Columbia Boulevard in North Portland to provide for freight vehicles and emergency access.

2.   Expedient Alternative - Once all government and environmental approvals have been received, the Project Sponsor (to be disclosed at a later date) can design and build the Alternative Columbia I-5 Tunnel (CIT) Plan in 24 to 36 Months from all approvals.

3.   Cost Effective - The Columbia I-5 Tunnel (CIT) Plan would be paid for with tolls and alternative funding resources and revenues – all infrastructure funded through a combination of private funding, augmented with federal and state funds.  Once all costs, expenses and fees are paid, the Columbia I-5 Tunnel Plan infrastructure would become unencumbered and owned free and clear by the states of Oregon and Washington.

4.   Related & Indirect Benefits - There are other benefits to The Columbia I-5 Tunnel (CIT) Plan.  Should additional travel lanes be required in 20 to 30 years, The Columbia I-5 Tunnel (CIT) Plan can be duplicated (with an additional twin tunnel) and the total added lanes could be increased from 4 commuter and commercial traffic lanes to 8 added lanes - in addition to the existing 6 lanes (14 total lanes).


C. Highlights of The Columbia I-5 Tunnel (CIT) Plan:

1.   Plan Owner - Currently the plan is being developed by Premier Project Consulting Group LLC.  Once a sponsor is selected and invested into the project, the sponsor will own the plan and take the lead in having the plan accepted and approved, using a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-P3 (Private-Public-Partnership) delivery method.
      Current Contacts are:
      Mike Pauletto, Engineering & Construction Consultant 360-921-4172
      Bill Huyette, Premier Investment Corporation 360-693-7331
      Phil Martinson PE, PMP, DBIA, CDT, Civil Engineer 503-557-1555

2.   Overview - of The Columbia I-5 Tunnel (CIT) Plan
      The existing I-5 Portland Vancouver Lift Bridge is to remain in service.
      Tunnel sections that are either “Bored” or “Open Cut” would be added to the existing freeway, highway, interchange and road system.
      Approximate length of the tunnel:  7.85 Miles - 2 Sections = 3.51 Mile Bored + 4.34 Mile Open Cut
      The Light Rail System is not part of this Alternative CIT Proprietary Plan, but the Light rail could be addressed and included separately at the discretion of the community and jurisdictional governments (please refer to “Item 5 – Existing Bridge” below).

3.   Design - The estimated bored section tunnel diameter would be 52 or 56 foot measured to the outside diameter.  The "Open Cut Sections" width would be designed to match the 52 or 56-foot diameter bored sections and also the lane transition requirements of the existing roads and infrastructure.

4.   Layout - The tunnel design has a total of 4 lanes - 2 in each direction.  Alternatively, the 4 added lanes could be designated as “Commuter Lanes” for the morning rush hour (used exclusively for south travel) and for the afternoon rush hour (used exclusively for north travel).

There would be two upper lanes and two lower lanes.  As mentioned above, the lane directions could be designed to change for benefiting commuter traffic.  All lanes could have a full 16 foot height, however the design could be "downsized" and the two upper level or lower level lanes could have a restricted 12 foot height if a smaller design diameter were to be utilized.

5.   Existing Bridge - The design will leave the existing I-5 Portland Vancouver bridge which has 6 lanes of traffic (3 north bound & 3 south bound) alone - with no design upgrades, other than seismic enhancements or the possible addition of Light Rail with modification s and upgrades to the existing bridge.

6.   Safety - The conceptual plan anticipates having emergency access points for the tunnel.

7.   Tolling - All lanes of traffic - 6 existing lanes and 4 new lanes in the tunnel (a total of 10 lanes) would be electronically tolled – no toll booths.