Rain sets back I-5 work in Woodland

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Overnight rain has delayed construction work on southbound Interstate 5 in Woodland, leaving one lane closed until crews get a long enough dry window to move ahead.

Crews had planned to lay down a waterproof membrane designed to protect the freeway, which is being resurfaced as part of larger project, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. But when raindrops started falling overnight Thursday into Friday, workers were forced to hold off -- for now.

"It's critical that there is no moisture underneath that membrane when they put it down," said WSDOT spokeswoman Abbi Russell.

The southbound right lane of the I-5 bridge over the East Fork of the Lewis River remains closed at least through tonight, Russell said. Workers must put down the membrane before they can repave over the top of it, and they need about a six-hour window of completely dry weather to do it, she said.

WSDOT hopes to have all lanes of the bridge open for this weekend, if the weather cooperates. But it may not -- the forecast calls for at least a chance of showers in Woodland lingering through Sunday.

Southbound I-5 drivers should expect some delays if they're passing through Woodland, Russell said. But work crews are ready to act, day or night, when the time comes.

"If they have a window of opportunity," Russell said, "they will take it."