Since 2005, proposals to replace the bridge have been developed and discussed. The bridge is considered to be responsible for traffic congestion and river traffic. Replacement bridge projects, known as Columbia River Crossing (CRC), which is expected to cost at least $3.4 billion, met until 2012 after many delays, but were highly controversial, with strong support and strong opposition.  At the end of June 2013, the CRC project was cancelled after the Washington State Legislature refused to authorize funding for the project.  Outside of shuttle hours (6:30 a.m to 9 a.m. and from 2:30 p.m..m to 6.m), marine traffic on the bridge is determined in accordance with federal law (33 CFR 117.869).   The first bridge has a total of 13 steel ladders of 84 m length each and the remaining 10 lengths of 81 m each.  The docks sit on stakes on wooden piles about 70 feet deep.  One of the 84 m wingspan is the lifting range that allows river traffic under the bridge.  The lifting distance is capable of moving vertically by 41 m and offers a free space height of 53.6 m at the bottom when fully lifted.  The towers are 57.9 m high and above the roadway.  Inslee stated that the replacement bridge should be included in all federal infrastructure packages and added that it was difficult to imagine that the project was not at the high level of transportation needs at the federal level. In 2008, as fuel prices rose and project cost estimates increased, many people in the region began to wonder if the project was worth it.
In addition, many on the Portland side are concerned that a 12-lane highway bridge to Vancouver, which many believe has virtually no restrictions on land use, could promote urban sprawl and development north of the river.  The Interstate Bridge Replacement Program is committed to a transparent data process that prioritizes equity and inclusion. To this end, bi-governmental partner agencies participated in a series of interviews, workshops and staff working meetings during the winter and spring of 2020. They focused on how best to work together to develop a bridge solution that deserves broad regional support, reflects community values and has made progress in construction. Brown said the two states would open a joint project office to review previously completed work and plan a new course to replace the bridge. The construction of a replacement (particularly a fixed-span bridge) is made difficult by the existence of a railway bridge crossing the Columbia River for a short distance downstream (on burlington Northern Railroad Bridge 9.6), which limits the location of the navigation channel; and access routes to Portland International Airport in Portland and Pearson Field in Vancouver that limit the height of each new structure. Some have proposed replacing the bridge at another location. Originally, there were 12 transportation plans that were studied to improve and expand interstate 5 intersection of the Columbia River.  At the end of 2006, four of these plans were selected for a final proposal, as well as a fifth non-construction option.  In 2008, the six local agencies partnering with the Columbia River Crossing project chose to replace the I-5 bridge and the urban train to Clark College as the preferred alternative (LPA) of the project.  This $3 billion project would have replaced the double ladders of the bridge, installed interchanges on both sides of the Columbia River and extended the Oregon Streetcar line to Clark College.