Busy year for roadwork runs on in Clark County

Scheduled traffic delays include Saturday bridge lifts

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Click here for the latest construction updates from the Washington State Department of Transportation

Regional traffic officials have called this one of the busiest construction seasons they’ve ever seen.

It’s not over yet.

Clark County drivers should expect to see plenty more flaggers, traffic cones and barriers (Oh, my!) in the coming months, many related to multiyear projects.

Let’s catch up on some new developments and announcements from the past week. First, the good news:

• I-5 paving work finished.

Construction crews finished repaving and striping a 2.3-mile section of Interstate 5 in downtown Vancouver overnight Thursday, wrapping up six weeks and $2.8 million of work.

Workers began the project in early July to smooth out cracked and rutted pavement between the Interstate Bridge and West 39th Street. The project caused more than a month of nightly lane and ramp closures.

More than 100,000 drivers travel that stretch of I-5 each day, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, which led the project. That traffic load includes thousands of vehicles moving commerce up and down the West Coast, according to WSDOT.

The project laid down 14,000 tons of asphalt. The work was paid for with state highway improvement dollars.

• Watch out for morning bridge lifts.

Maintenance work on the Interstate Bridge will mean three northbound-only bridge lifts Saturday morning, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Crews will lubricate counter-weights on the bridge from Portland to Vancouver. The work requires three 20-minute bridge lifts on the northbound side between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., according to ODOT. Drivers traveling north on the freeway Saturday morning should expect delays.

• Work on state Highway 500/St. Johns Boulevard pushed back.

Construction crews have decided to delay major work on the state Highway 500 intersection at St. Johns Boulevard in Vancouver, WSDOT announced this week.

The first stage of major traffic impacts is now scheduled to begin in October, instead of this month. The entire project is still set for completion in 2013, according to WSDOT.

Contractor Tapani Underground won’t be able to get some key construction materials until this fall, so it decided to put off the first stage of lane closures and turn restrictions until then. The $48 million project will transform the intersection by raising St. Johns Boulevard with a bridge over Highway 500, allowing both thoroughfares to operate more smoothly. The junction now functions as an intersection with signals.

Crews will, however, continue to do off-roadway preparations and other work with minimal traffic impacts until October.

• Repair work on I-205 in Oregon begins Sunday.

Oregon Department of Transportation crews will begin concrete repairs Sunday night on a long stretch of Interstate 205 between West Linn, Ore., and northeast Portland. The work is expected to cause nightly delays and lane closures.

Workers will repair concrete approaches to bridges as far north as Airport Way in Portland. The work will require multiple lane closures from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., but closures will take place in only one direction of I-205 at a time, according to ODOT. At least one lane in each direction will remain open at all times.

The work is expected to continue through September.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541 or eric.florip@columbian.com.