Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge gets $200 million

Columbia Gorge News

THE GORGE — On Jan. 22, the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge replacement project received a large influx of funds to the tune of $200 million. The funds came by way of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s INFRA (Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects program) grant. The federal program awards grants for infrastructure projects around the country. Among the many who have worked on the project, Sen. Jeff Merkley has been advocating for almost a decade.

“It’s been a big issue for Hood River County, the town of Hood River and for White Salmon across the way,” Merkley told Columbia Gorge News.

The Hood River-White Salmon Bridge Authority was the recipient of the grant and has now raised more than half of their final funding goal of $520 million. According to the project website, they currently have nearly $320 million in committed funds.

“This funding comes at the perfect time, and will allow us to stay on schedule with building the new bridge,” said Mike Fox, co-chair of the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge Authority. “Because our project is shovel-ready within the next 18 months, these funds will ensure we will move beyond design into construction.”

The state of Washington has allocated $80 million — $75 million through the Move Ahead Washington transportation program and another $5 million grant — and Oregon has contributed $25 million. With the help of Rep. Jeff Helfrich the project received $20 million through Oregon’s 2023 legislative session and an earlier $5 million planning grant from House Bill 2017.

“One of my top priorities during Oregon’s 2023 session was securing funding for this bridge. I was able to get the state of Oregon to commit $20 million to this project and will continue to advocate for more Oregon dollars to support this endeavor,” Helfrich said.

The project also received a $3.6 million grant from USDOT Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program to help support development of the bike and pedestrian components on the bridge. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was instrumental in securing $7.5 billion for the RAISE program, which is funded via the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. As Senate Appropriations Chair, Murray has advocated strongly for Washington state’s RAISE grant applicants.

“I worked hard to secure advance appropriations for the INFRA program when we were passing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and have worked closely with local leaders in White Salmon to make sure this region could benefit from the new investments we made in this program,” Murray said.

Leveraging these new funding commitments, the project is in the process of selecting a progressive design-build contractor who will design and construct the new bridge and is on schedule to start construction in 2025.