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Nov. 26, 2020

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Climber on Interstate 5 Bridge shuts down freeway traffic for hours

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
8 Photos
First responders keep an eye on the scene as police work on the Interstate Bridge as lanes are cleared of traffic on Tuesday morning, Oct. 20, 2020.
First responders keep an eye on the scene as police work on the Interstate Bridge as lanes are cleared of traffic on Tuesday morning, Oct. 20, 2020. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A person climbing on the southbound span of the Interstate 5 Bridge led to an hourslong freeway closure that snarled traffic throughout Clark County on Tuesday morning.

The incident began about 9 a.m. when a person was seen climbing onto the bridge structure near midspan. Southbound traffic was shut down as emergency crews responded to the scene.

The climber was removed from the bridge shortly after 11 a.m. and traffic resumed more than two hours after it was shut down. No further information was released about the climber.

Traffic quickly backed up on southbound Interstate 5 as well as on the northbound span of the I-5 Bridge, which was later reduced from three to one traffic lane as the incident continued.

Workers attempted to get a harness around the climber about 9:30 a.m. About an hour later, Portland Fire & Rescue reported via Twitter that a tech rescue team and crisis negotiators were on scene and trying to talk the person into climbing down from the bridge.

Traffic continued to back up during the freeway closures, causing significant delays on Interstate 205, state Highway 14 and on surface streets in downtown Vancouver.

By 10:30 a.m., Interstate 205 southbound and state Highway 14 eastbound were showing signs of slowing. I-205 was stop and go to north of Highway 500 by 11 a.m., and the Highway 500 east onramp to I-205 was clogged at the merge. Highway 14 east was slow to east of Lieser Road.

With the bridge’s northbound span down to one lane, traffic quickly backed up to south of Rosa Parks Way.

The Oregon Department of Transportation asked commuters to take alternative routes. C-Tran’s routes 60 and 105 saw extensive delays.

The bridge was reopened about 11:10 a.m., according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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