Saturday, October 31, 2020
Oct. 31, 2020

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Day 1 of I-5 Bridge trunnion replacement project mostly on track

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter
3 Photos
Crews on Saturday began a nine-day trunnion repair project on the Interstate 5 Bridge.
Crews on Saturday began a nine-day trunnion repair project on the Interstate 5 Bridge. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project was largely on track on its first day Saturday, save for some temporary delays.

Crews worked to close all lanes of the northbound span during the first day of the project, which is expected to last nine days. The gradual closure began early Saturday morning and had finished by the afternoon.

Workers installing Jersey barriers on the southbound side were forced into a temporary delay Saturday afternoon due to a traffic crash in the area, said Celeste Dimichina, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Transportation. Crews at one point also needed to adjust ramp meters — mini signals used to control the frequency of vehicles entering the freeway — that were slowing the flow of traffic more than necessary. Overnight rain also slowed efforts to stripe crossovers between northbound and southbound lanes.

The project was supposed to begin a week earlier. But two days before the long-awaited start date, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced that it would delay the project to prevent large traffic delays amid widespread wildfire evacuations.

The hurdles Saturday were more of the typical variety for large infrastructure projects.

“We try to anticipate these delays but they unfortunately happen when we least expect it,” Dimichina said.

The southbound span will feature two southbound lanes and one northbound lane until noon Sunday. At that point, a pair of “zipper” machines will move a barrier to create two northbound lanes one southbound lane.

The process will repeat at 2 a.m. and noon each day.

As expected, traffic stalled at several points throughout the day on thoroughfares near the bridge. Following the crash Saturday, vehicles on the southbound side of Interstate 5 were stopped as far as 4 miles north of the bridge, Dimichina said.

Dimichina suggested that motorists check WSDOT and ODOT traffic cameras, download WSDOT’s mobile app and monitor the WSDOT Twitter account, which will be updated at all hours of the day.

“People were probably anticipating that, today, things would be moving,” Dimichina said. “I’m not sure people took into consideration that traffic would be narrowed down.”

Over the next eight days, the project will involve new trunnions and sheaves to replace aging parts of the lift span, temporary falsework to support the bridge and counterweights and a barge-mounted crane to lift parts to the top of the tower.


Trunnion replacement

Read more about the Interstate 5 trunnion replacement project at

Columbian county government and small cities reporter