When will the I-5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver be unsafe to drive over? It should be a simple question, but when the politics of the new $3.6 billion Columbia River Crossing project come in, it's not. Part of the justification for replacing the bridge with an expensive new span is that the current bridge is unsafe and could collapse.

Environmentalist Evan Manvel, who's worked to stop the freeway expansion project through the group Coalition for a Livable Future, noted on Friday that an old report on the ODOT website said the bridge could last 60 years. When he tweeted at ODOT about the report, they first chastised him, then pulled down the report because it's apparently inaccurate. Here's the exchange:


The Columbian newspaper talked about the issue with ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton, who says the report was pulled because it's inaccurate, not because the state highway agency is trying to rewrite the past to match up with its current messaging, as Manvel alleges. From the article: "The bridge today is safe," says Hamilton. "Whether it can stand the demands of the future and hold up to the congestion, hold up to the safety issues, and hold up to the demand issues that are going to be there is different. Keeping a bridge functioning is not the same as fixing the problems that are associated with it."