Southbound I-5 reopened between Kalama and Woodland

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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This rainy winter is taking a toll on Southwest Washington’s roadways.

Interstate 5 is still recovering from Thursday’s mudslide and pavement problems. One lane of northbound Interstate 5 outside of Woodland will remain closed through the weekend as crews continue to clean up the mud.

In the Columbia River Gorge, state Highway 14 will have significant speed reductions in certain areas until permanent repairs can be made after the weather improves. 

The biggest traffic impacts Friday were on I-5 between Woodland and Kalama.

“We assessed the hillside and determined we can start removing debris (from the right lane) and no additional stabilization is needed at this point,” said Bart Treece, spokesman for the Washington Department of Transportation. “We’re shooting for Monday to have it reopened.” The northbound freeway was closed Thursday afternoon and evening after muddy debris covered all three lanes; two of the three lanes reopened later that evening.

Just north of the slide area, all lanes of southbound I-5 between Kalama and Woodland were open, but speed limits will be reduced to 60 mph from this weekend through the foreseeable future due to damaged pavement.

On Friday, WSDOT crews closed two southbound lanes and made emergency repairs to the roadway after emergency officials responding to the slide discovered large areas of pavement had been damaged.

Crews finished the temporary repairs by 2:30 p.m. Friday, but by then traffic had backed up for 12 miles.

In the Columbia River Gorge, speed limits will be significantly reduced in sections of state Highway 14 near Stevenson and Carson until crews can repair the roadway this spring.

East of Stevenson, between Lutheran Church Road and Nelson Creek Road, and between Wind Mountain Road and the Dog Mountain trailhead, speed limits will be reduced from 55 mph to 35 mph due to pavement damage.

Also, “We’re seeing numerous pot-holing issues around the state” due to winter weather, Treece said.

The roadway damage comes during a cold and very wet winter. In the 24 hours ending at 8:45 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service  recorded 1.54 inches of rain at Vancouver’s Pearson Field. 

In the first 16 days of February, Vancouver typically gets 2.51 inches of precipitation. This year, the city has received 8.12 inches of rain.