I-5 bridge collapse highlights need for transportation funding

(Photo: modified from KING 5 News / Twitter)(Photo: modified from KING 5 News / Twitter)

The Interstate 5 bridge collapse that occurred Thursday night in Washington State underscores a larger problem the state is facing: transportation funding.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has said the bridge collapse reveals that lawmakers need to find ways to fund state transportation projects soon, the New York Times reported.

Washington lawmakers are considering transportation funding in a special session of the Legislature.

The state this year needs to find a way to finance its portion of the $3.2 billion project over the Columbia River; otherwise, it may lose up to $1.2 billion in federal funds. Though Oregon lawmakers have approved $450 million, the $450 million share from Washington State has been stalled. About $1 billion of those funds would come from tolls.

Edward G. Rendell, co-founder of Building America’s Future and former governor of Pennsylvania, pointed to the bridge as “a timely reminder of our nation’s need to invest in critical infrastructure upgrades.”

However, those upgrades can’t happen without dedicated transportation funding

Even with $1 million federal emergency funds, money may remain too tight to completely reconstruct the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River. Instead, Lynn Peterson, Washington’s secretary of transportation, said three of the four 160-foot sections of the bridge could likely be restored.