If the Portland commute has been getting you down, and you’ve been thinking about taking an extended vacation, this is probably the summer to do it.
Beginning Sunday night and running through August, several two-week-long, 24-hour-a-day ramp closures at the Interstate 5/Interstate 84 interchange in Portland are expected to dramatically congest the city’s streets and highways.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is warning of congestion similar or worse than typical rush-hour conditions from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays. Commutes could last for a couple of hours. Backups could stretch to the Interstate 5 Bridge, to Troutdale on I-84 and to the Glenn Jackson Bridge and Sunnyside on Interstate 205.
C-Tran is anticipating “major gridlock” and urging its Express service passengers to be prepared.
“Make sure you know this is occurring if you have a time-sensitive job,” said C-Tran spokeswoman Christine Selk.
ODOT and Hamilton Construction will close the ramp that connects I-5 southbound to I-84 eastbound at 10 p.m. Sunday, July 8, through 5 a.m. Monday, July 23.
The ramp from westbound I-84 to northbound I-5 will close starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, until 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 6.
Additionally, the center lane of I-84 westbound will close near Lloyd Boulevard from 10 p.m. Friday, July 27, to 5 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 2. This will leave only the left lane open on I-84 westbound.
During paving between the Fremont and Marquam bridges, travelers will have to use the Fremont Bridge and Interstate 405.
I-5 southbound will close for paving between the Fremont and the Marquam bridges from 10 p.m. Friday, July 13, to 5 a.m. Monday, July 16, and from 10 p.m. Friday, July 20, to 5 a.m. Monday, July 23.
Northbound I-5 between the Marquam and Fremont bridges will close from 10 p.m. Friday, July 27, to 5 a.m. Monday, July 30.
Northbound I-5 will again close between the Marquam and Fremont bridges from 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3 to 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 6.
The ramp from westbound I-84 to southbound I-5 will be closed starting at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, until 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27.
For the duration of the project, the ramp from northbound I-5 to eastbound I-84 will intermittently close overnight, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Selk said the agency has had several meetings to figure out how to navigate the work. It plans to send extra buses into the city and will probably use alternative routes to avoid the congestion, but the agency is anticipating delays.
“We’re expecting the worst but hoping for the best,” she said. “At the end of the day, we are beholden to the traffic patterns. We can plan and try to navigate traffic, but if it’s backed up on the freeways it’s going to spill over onto side streets.”
Whenever possible, commuters should consider using MAX as an alternative. Commuters also might check with employers about working a different schedule or working remotely.