A unanimous Metro Council voted on Thursday to adopt a document delineating the values, outcomes, and actions they want to see as part of the I-5 Interstate Bridge Replacement Program. As one of the partner agencies in the program, Metro plays a role in the approval of funds for the project. The council’s resolution guarantees that Metro’s green light for funding will be contingent to the program aligning with Metro’s 2018 Regional Transportation Plan, which set four primary priorities: equity, safety, climate, and congestion relief.
The bridge replacement program is a collaboration of the Oregon and Washington Departments of Transportation with input from a bi-state legislative committee. In order to go forward, the project must go through a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and receive support from the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Metro is one of eight local agencies participating in the NEPA process, along with the City of Portland, the City of Vancouver, the Southwest Regional Transportation Council (RTC), TriMet, C-Tran, the Port of Portland and the Port of Vancouver.
The values document adopted by the Metro Council means that, in order to receive approval, the project will have to show that a new bridge plan will advance racial equity, promote resiliency and economic prosperity, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality. Metro will also require that the process engage stakeholders through a transparent and inclusionary decision-making process. The document highlights that “Metro embraces ongoing engagement and input from the public on the project, and especially from BIPOC communities who may benefit or be impacted by this project. Metro recognizes Indigenous communities and tribal governments as important partners in this process.”
“In order for us to see a project in the end that reflects back on our values, we need to be very articulate and clear about that,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. The resolution adopted on Thursday requires the bi-state committee to report back to Metro by May 10, giving the council time to ensure their requirements are met prior to approving any plans for project in June.