Ongoing bridge work will close span on I-5

Repairs will block flow Sunday morning, again overnight next week

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter

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Ongoing repairs to the Interstate 5 Bridge will close the southbound span briefly Sunday morning, before at least one more all-night closure diverts traffic later in the week.

Crews are working to fix two of the rollers that help guide the span’s massive counterweights up and down during a bridge lift, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. The problem — the two rollers were coming loose from their track — first surfaced during an inspection last month.

ODOT closed the bridge overnight last week to begin the process of replacing them, but workers weren’t able to get all the old parts removed in time. That’s partly because the closure started on a Thursday night, and crews were up against a Friday-morning rush hour the next day, said ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie.

“The priority for that day was just to get the bridge open on time,” Dinwiddie said.

This Sunday’s southbound closure will last from about 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., according to ODOT. Planners picked that day because traffic is expected to be light on the Easter holiday morning, Dinwiddie said. The date for next week’s all-night closure has not been set yet, Dinwiddie said. ODOT hopes that’s enough to finish the $50,000 job and install the new rollers, she said, even if it’s taken a bit longer than expected.

“You’re just working with an old bridge,” Dinwiddie said. “Things don’t always go as planned.”

The northbound side of the I-5 Bridge was built in 1917. The southbound side opened in 1958. Workers replaced all of the bridge’s eight counterweight rollers in 2000, Dinwiddie said, but none since — until now. The rollers generally last about 10 years, she said.

“There is a chance that we could encounter this again,” she said.

During both upcoming closures, southbound drivers will have to use Interstate 205 to cross the Columbia River. The northbound side of the I-5 bridge will remain open.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com.