WASHINGTON, D.C.— Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that $5 million in federal funding is headed to Oregon to help cover costs associated with the engineering expertise and preparatory studies needed to replace the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge.
The bridge, which crosses the Columbia River and connects Hood River, Oregon with White Salmon and Bingen, Washington, plays an important role in the safety, economy, and social well-being of Columbia River Gorge communities, and is in critical need of replacement.
The funding is being allocated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program after the senators voiced their strong support for Port’s grant application in a letter to the agency earlier this year. Senator Merkley—who has pushed to fund the BUILD grant program as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee—also highlighted the importance of the project to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in a July call.
“From helping small businesses and agricultural producers ship their products, to putting critical goods within reach, boosting the Gorge’s recreational economy, and helping people evacuate from wildfires in times of crisis—Oregonians need quality transportation infrastructure they can rely on,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased that we were able to secure this federal funding to help the Port of Hood River replace this bridge, and will continue to fight for the resources we need for state-of-the-art infrastructure that will keep our communities safe and connected.”
“The Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge has long played an essential role in keeping the Columbia Gorge strong for both the regional economy and residents’ quality of life,” Wyden said. “I’m gratified the Port of Hood River has earned these $5 million bridge replacement funds that will help small businesses and families for generations to come, and I’ll keep battling for similar infrastructure investments throughout Oregon.”
“Senator Merkley, Senator Wyden, and Congressman Walden have all been strong advocates for this critical regional project for many years. Their efforts helped draw additional support from elected officials in both Oregon and Washington. This bi-state collaboration set the stage for a successful BUILD application and it will be crucial going forward as the region works together to replace the aging Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge,” said Michael McElwee, Executive Director, Port of Hood River.