Swollen river prompts more frequent I-5 bridge lifts

Columbia River expected to pass flood stage Monday; little impact expected

By Mark Bowder, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Motorists on Interstate 5 were greeted Saturday afternoon with what has become a more familiar aggravation - a traffic-snarling bridge lift - because of high water levels in the Columbia River.

The noontime back-up, which reached to 39th Street on the Vancouver side, is likely to be repeated often over the next couple of weeks due to an increased number of requests for bridge lifts to accommodate marine traffic.

The additional requests are due to higher water levels in the Columbia, which reduces the clearance under the bridge.

Federal law gives marine traffic has 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.

A National Weather Service bulletin Saturday said the river is expected to rise a few inches above flood stage on Monday and remain at that level for the rest of the week. Only minor impacts are expected.