Bridge lift expected to tie up I-5 at noon Tuesday



When a 35-minute lift of the Interstate Bridge snarled freeway traffic Wednesday morning, it took plenty of motorists by surprise.

Turns out, that was just part one. The sequel arrives Tuesday.

A barge carrying parts of two drilling rigs on their way to Alaska is expected to pass under the bridge at noon Tuesday. That means long delays on Interstate 5 in Vancouver and Portland. Drivers should avoid the area if they can.

The lift shouldn’t be as long as last week’s, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. The cargo, which consists of worker dormitories and shop buildings, won’t be as tall as parts of the same rigs that stretched the bridge to its limit last Wednesday.

That lift raised the bridge to its maximum height, 136 feet, as the massive load passed through. The bridge went up just after 9 a.m., tying up traffic for most of the morning. Some drivers turned their engines off as they waited.

The oil rigs, which weigh 4.5 million pounds and stand 200 feet tall when fully extended, were fabricated at Columbia Business Center, just upstream of Beaches Restaurant, by Thompson Metal Fab. The contract was valued at $200 million and employed 300 people. The customer is Parker Drilling of Houston.