High river levels prompt bridge lifts

By Bob Albrecht, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Traffic on Interstate 5 was congested this morning earlier than usual, the result of a bridge lift that occurred at about 6 a.m.

The familiar annoyance has become more frequent of late because of high water levels in the Columbia River. This morning, the Columbia stands at 17.38 feet, well into the 16-foot flood stage.

Federal law gives marine traffic the right-of-way at the bridge, though bridge lifts on Interstate 5 will not occur during peak weekday freeway travel - from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

At its current level, any flooding from the river is not expected to cause much damage. The National Weather Service predicts to the river will rise by Saturday to between 17.8 feet and 18 feet.

Motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists using drawbridges to cross the Willamette River in Portland will also encounter delays due to increased bridge lifts.