A tractor-trailer rig going the wrong way in the southbound lanes of the Interstate 205 bridge collided with a passenger car this morning, triggering an epic traffic jam that made going very far in the Vancouver area nearly impossible.
All lanes were reopened across the Glenn Jackson Bridge about 10:15 a.m., but traffic jams persisted on both interstate freeways, both bridges, Highway 14 and surface streets in downtown Vancouver as a cascade of traffic problems slowly resolved.
The driver who allegedly caused the whole mess was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief and reckless driving. Portland police identified him as Kenneth Eugene Burgess, 49, of Medical Lake, a small town west of Spokane. He was driving a tractor-trailer rig belonging to a Spokane firm.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded at 4:20 a.m. to reports of a tractor trailer driving the wrong way on Interstate 84, according to a Portland Police Bureau bulletin.
The sheriff’s office pursued the truck, which continued driving north on I-205 southbound lanes, the bulletin states.
On the north side of the bridge, the truck crashed into a southbound vehicle.
The driver of the southbound vehicle, 24-year-old Katherine Mary Emerson of Vancouver, was transported to an area hospital where she was treated and released.
One Portland police car was damaged by crash debris and had to be towed from the scene.
This story will be updated as information becomes available.
Tweets and Facebook posts of traffic woes
Donna Dunbar wrote: “So far 30 min from Hwy 14 exit 3 WB to Pearson. Almost at 1 mile marker. Wouldn’t bother but need to get to my mother who is in St. Vincent hospital. Thank goodness I drive a hybrid :-)”
Erik Wecks @erikwecks Remember this day #vanwa. Keep it in mind the next time someone says it will be fine if we don’t build a bridge right now.
Kelly Michels wrote: “Had to go to The Bridge of the Gods to get to work 2.5 hours on the road, errr!!!!!”
Nikkie Harbert: “Live by van mall. Work in jantzen beach. Left at 750… Still not to work.”
Cari Corbett “Did not appreciate the drivers going 50mph+ on the shoulders!”
Carol Nelson Keljo wrote: “There was a huge backup on 14 at 7 am. I get on near Beaches. So I went into stealth mode and circled north to Mill Plain and got on there to head south after waiting through two lights. Funny thing was I breezed over the bridge and all the way to the OMSI exit although I was prepared to jump off 5 at Delta Park and head down MLK. I made it in record time today. Several employees who tried to navigate 205 were not so lucky.”
Megan Strand ?@meganstrand #VanWA traffic = 1.5 hours of my life wasted this morning. Ugh!
Josh Mathis: @jlmBTW #vanwa folks, if you think one truck crash is bad, I hope you’re prepared for when a quake takes out one or both bridges.
Ana Lai: ?@Ana_Lai @thecolumbian People were trying alternate routes, which caused congestion in the streets. I heard fourth plain doesn’t have traffic though.
Troy G: @troyglidden @Col_cops took me one hour to go from mall to Jantzen Beach..
River Maiden: @RMCoffee Armageddon here in #VanWAthis morning.
Rob Figley: An accident on I-205 has caused “unprecedented” traffic jams in Vancouver. Two hour commute time to Porland. But we don’t need a new bridge.
Jim Mains: As our entire community is in a stand still because of two lanes closed on 205 let us remember our local elected officials that are against moving our community forward. If we lose this this new bridge I will remember each of you when I vote and today I’m not alone.
View raw video footage taken at the scene by Desmond Moore.
View a KPTV video of the of the tractor-trailer going the wrong way on the southbound I-205 Bridge.