Saturday, October 31, 2020
Oct. 31, 2020

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Morning Press: I-5 Bridge repair; Worst air quality in state; COVID-19 linked to schools

The Columbian

Will the rain continue through the weekend and help control the wildfires? For details, check our local weather coverage.

In case you missed them, here are some of the top stories from the week:

Closing time: I-5 Bridge trunnion repair project begins Saturday

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.

Get the details on the massive project that will disrupt traffic next week.

Clark County is worst in state as Washington sets record for hazardous air

Washington has recorded its longest-running period with hazardous air quality in at least the last 14 years, and Clark County has registered the worst air quality in the state during a record-setting period.

Fine particulate (PM 2.5) levels in Vancouver briefly dipped into the “very unhealthy” range Tuesday night but had risen back to hazardous levels before midnight. The PM 2.5 level was at 309 as of data available at 6:45 a.m.

Learn more about the hazardous air quality.

Rain through Saturday should slow spread of Big Hollow Fire

The Big Hollow Fire burning in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest grew in acreage Thursday, but precipitation forecast to stick around through today should help slow its spread.

The wildfire, which is 15 miles northwest of Carson and 7 miles southeast of Cougar, had burned a total of 24,309 acres, or about 38 square miles, as of Friday morning. It was 15 percent contained. The cause of the fire is still unknown, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Get updates on the battle against the Big Hollow Fire.

Plight thickens for Clark County restaurants

This past week, smoke lingering in Clark County has given restaurants a bitter taste of the lost business they’re expecting when outdoor seating disappears in the colder months to come.

“The smoke cut us in half,” said Mark Matthias, owner of Beaches Restaurant & Bar. “It was immediate. Nobody will sit outside.”

Matthias is a member of Restaurant Roundtable, a grassroots group of Clark County business owners that is pressing the state government to ease up on COVID-19 restrictions in restaurants.

Read more on how restaurants are coping.

8 virus cases linked to Clark County schools

Clark County Public Health confirmed eight cases of the novel coronavirus connected to area schools, but officials say there’s no evidence of transmission within the affected campuses.

School and public health officials are working to identify potential close contacts of those with a confirmed case of COVID-19 to notify and quarantine those individuals.

Find out what schools have reported links to the COVID-19 virus.

Inslee challenger Loren Culp rallies Clark County supporters

Part party and part protest against Gov. Jay Inslee, Republican challenger Loren Culp held a rally west of Battle Ground on Sunday.

Arriving in a large pickup truck as a rock band played onstage, Culp spoke to an enthusiastic outdoor crowd of about 500.

Amid wildfire smoke that pushed air-quality to hazardous levels in Southwest Washington, Culp began with a broadside against Inslee’s management of state forestlands and the governor’s scientifically-backed view that climate change is a driver of catastrophic wildfires.

Read more about the rally.