New I-5 Bridge: Another Glenn Jackson?

There are rumblings in today’s Oregonian that the new I-5 bridge is going to be another boring slab of concrete ala the Glenn Jackson bridge. Kind of a shame, really, when one thinks of all the fantastically beautiful bridges we have here. This new bridge should be the crown jewel. So why can’t they get very creative?

Apparently, they have to keep the span low in order to not disrupt the flight paths of the small private planes (about 70 per day) that land at nearby Pierson Field. Can’t they just eliminate/remove Pierson field? Nope. It’s apparently part of the “Fort Vancouver Heritage” because it’s been there since the early 20th century. As a former Vancouverite, I think that’s kind of ridiculous. Pierson field is basically a mud puddle with a runway parked along Highway 14. There’s another small airport right off of Mill Plain. Is private air-traffic that heavy in Vancouver that two airfields are needed? Is it so heavy that it should affect the single-largest highway on the west coast?

I certainly don’t mean any offense to the people that use Pierson field. It’s simply my opinion that the bridge is more important.

12 Comments so far

  1. Steve (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 10:24 am

    How much money should we spend to make it pretty, and where should this money come from?

    Form follows function. If you want to add to the form after you’ve designed a functional system, you’ve got to justify the cost. Making it pretty will cost more, and moving an airfield will make it even more expensive.

    I’m all for attractive infrastructure, but the money’s got to come from somewhere, and it’s going to be a massively expensive project even with a spartan design.


  2. tenstringesquire (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 10:53 am

    Once I start hearing rumblings that cost-prohibitiveness is the reason that the new span can’t be more than just a slab of concrete, I’ll start asking those questions. I would presume that, after the enormously expensive basic design, adding some form shouldn’t add a prohibitively significant sum to the total amount. And I don’t think that’s an entirely unreasonable presumption to make – especially given the fact that the article mentioned the airfield, and not prohibitive costs, as being the main hurdle towards a more aesthetically pleasing bridge. Prohibitive costs weren’t mentioned at all, which leads me to believe that they are not the problem. One of the reasons I love this area is that civic planners try to find a way to go the extra step to make things not just functional, but "pretty", as you say.


  3. Steve (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 11:30 am

    At $4.2 billion the box girder bridge would be the most expensive public works project in the pacific northwest — ever.

    changing the design to a suspension or cable-stayed bridge would add significantly to the cost, as would moving Pearson Field.

    I’m not opposed to building an iconic bridge. I just want to know where the money’s going to come from. Sam Adams wants to increase fees and taxes to fill potholes, even as we spend millions to operate a tram and streetcar that don’t solve any real transportation issues. And now he wants to find a way to build an "iconic" bridge across the Columbia.

    Show me the money, Sam.


  4. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 12:22 pm

    Pearson is Vancouver’s only airstrip. The other one you mention (Evergreen Field, off Mill Plain) closed last July and has been demolished, in the name of progress and development.


  5. tenstringesquire (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    Thanks for the update, Arron. Haven’t been back to the ‘couve in awhile. Had no idea they shut down the airstrip.


  6. george (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 4:44 pm

    pretty bridge or ugly bridge, i still think its the wrong choice for the region. LOCAL ARTERIAL BRIDGE! LOCAL ARTERIAL BRIDGE!


  7. Dodge Ram (unregistered) on February 5th, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

    As for me the last time I was near the I-5 bridge was some 5ish years ago from my point of view the whole I-5 freeway needs to be widened from I-84 all the yay up to the north side of vancover. That whole stretch from banfield to the north side of the bridge is a nightmare during rush hour then toss in one broke down car on the bridge trafic gets backed up for miles.


  8. Dave A. (unregistered) on February 6th, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

    Yes the proposed bridge will not be a "monument" type structure. However, it is WAY OVERDUE – as are additional lanes on the I-5 Freeway from the I-84 split into Vancouver. I wonder if anyone is aware that the "HOV" lane going north to Vancouver is the only three lane freeway on the west coast where that is allowed. And the clowns are City Hall wonder why they are labeled as being "auto unfriendly".


  9. Derek (unregistered) on February 6th, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

    Guess no one has been around long enough to remember the Marquam/Fremont Bridge era.

    Fremont bridge cost 6 times as much, but has become an icon of the area… They did this SPECIFICALLY because the Marquam was such a horribly boring bridge.

    Anyone ever heard of the "Golden Gate" bridge? You probably wouldn’t have if it were a concrete slab…

    For an area known for beautiful bridges, this is very shortsighted…


  10. Dodge Ram (unregistered) on February 6th, 2008 @ 4:32 pm

    Call me a minimalist I’m for function over fashion take a look at that joke of a bridge "I don’t know it’s name" the 405 that big arch bridge with on and off ramps that go nowhere it’s like they ran out of money and just stopped then there is the ramp on the ramp from I-5 south to I-84 east it comes from nowhere.


  11. chris (unregistered) on February 6th, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

    dodge.. please read up on portland history.. k? thx

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hood_Freeway


  12. Dodge Ram (unregistered) on February 7th, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

    Chris, the Mt. Hood Freeway was a bit before I started to breath air "fyi my Y.O.B. 1966 and I moved from NW Portland to SE Portland in 1970" I was just saying I don’t care what it looks like just don’t make it stupid with with half ramps that go nowhere. Just my opinion and observations.

    Y.O.B. = Year of Birth



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