On Wednesday, August 24, members of Washington and Oregon’s federal and state congressional delegation met with the Port of Hood River and members of the Bi-State Working Group (BSWG) to tour the area and discuss the future of the Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge. The event featured a drive across the current bridge to the headquarters of Mt. Adams Fruit in Bingen, Washington, an eRail ride at the Mt. Hood Railroad Depot in Hood River, Oregon and an eBike ride along the Mosier Tunnels Trail.
At Mt. Adams Fruit, the delegation met with the owners Don and Doug Gibson and Director of Operations, Mt. Adams Fruit, to learn about the importance of the bridge for agriculture transportation. Washington State Senator Curtis King (14th District) opened the tour with remarks about what the bridge means to businesses and communities on both sides of the river. As a family-owned and operated business since 1909, Mt. Adams Fruit employs 350 people year-round and works with nearly 80 pear and cherry growers on both sides of the bridge. Gibson explained the time-sensitive nature of shipping fruit and the impacts that current truck restrictions or bridge delays have on their business. The delegation then toured the fruit processing facility for an up-close look at how their operations work.
The delegation drove back across the bridge to the Mt. Hood Railroad Depot for an eRail car ride. Klickitat County Commissioner Jacob Anderson spoke to the group about the community need for the bridge and equitable use and importance for Washington residents, tourists, and people who commute across the bridge every day.
After the eRail ride, the delegation had lunch at the Fruit Company in Pine Grove on the Oregon side. Scott Webster, CEO of the Fruit Company and Mt. Hood Railroad, David Windsor, branch manager at Cardinal Glass, and Kip Miller of Insitu presented to the group and spoke of the importance of a secure bridge for their employees, transportation of goods, and shipping throughout the region. A MountNBarrel Ebike ride via the tunnels trail finished up the day.
The delegation included Washington State Senator King, field representatives from the offices of Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Representative Earl Blumenauer, Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler. Local elected officials included Klickitat Commissioner Anderson, Hood River County Commissioner Arthur Babitz, Port of Hood River Commissioner Mike Fox, and Hood River Mayor Kate McBride. Members of the Bi-State Working Group and the project management team from HNTB were also in attendance.
A special thanks to all attendees and to Mt. Hood Railroad, The Fruit Company, MountNBarrel tours, Cardinal Glass and Insitu for their participation in the day.
The Bridge Replacement Bi-State Working Group members are:
Catherine Kiewit, Mayor, City of Bingen
Mike Fox, Commissioner, Port of Hood River
Marla Keethler, Mayor, City of White Salmon
Kate McBride, Mayor, City of Hood River
Jake Anderson, Commissioner, Klickitat County
Bob Benton, Commissioner, Hood River County