You can’t make this stuff up. From yesterday’s Oregonian.

Bruce Johnson, Oregon’s state bridge engineer…said no one has estimated the cost of seismically retrofitting the Columbia River bridges, but he believes a project would be extremely expensive.

A new substructure would have to be built under the existing bridges for perhaps $500 million or $600 million, which would about equal the cost of the Columbia River Crossing’s bridge portion, Johnson said.

Yet as astute kibbitzers in the comments section pointed out, the Columbia River Crossing project itself released a report on seismic retrofits, concluding:

[I]t is technically feasible to retrofit the existing bridges to the current seismic safety standards…

The Panel discussed and developed their opinion of estimated raw bridge construction costs to retrofit both bridges. This opinion ranges from $88 million to $190 million. This opinion of cost increases from $125 million to $265 million when design, permitting, right-of-way, construction inspection and management, agency oversight, and contingencies are added.

And when you look at the members of the seismic expert panel in Table 2-1, who turns up listed second?

Bruce Johnson, P.E., S.E. State Bridge Engineer Oregon DOT

Down the memory hole, I suppose.