Barring any more last-minute delays, the big Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project is set to begin Saturday, kicking off the scheduled nine-day closure of the northbound span of the twin bridges and use of the southbound span for all freeway traffic.
The closure was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 12, but the Oregon Department of Transportation announced on Sept. 10 that it would delay the project to ensure Portland region’s freeway system kept running smoothly amid widespread wildfire evacuations in Oregon. The following day, ODOT announced the new Saturday start date.
The wildfires threw a wrench into the proceedings, but there were no other last-minute hiccups during preparations for the project itself, according to ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton.
The pieces were all in place last week, and remain ready: new trunnions and sheaves to replace the worn-out parts of the lift span, temporary falsework to support the bridge and counterweights, a barge-mounted crane to hoist the parts to the top of the tower and a pair of “zipper” machines for the moveable barrier that will allow the middle lane of the southbound span to function as a reversible rush hour lane.
A pair of nearby preparation projects also wrapped up ahead of the original planned start date. The Washington State Department of Transportation’s new Traffic Management System along I-5 in Vancouver was up and running last week, according to spokeswoman Tamara Greenwell, and the agency plans to operate a round-the-clock emergency operations center team to respond to any bridge-related issues.