Saturday, October 24, 2020
Oct. 24, 2020

Linkedin Pinterest

Drivers urged to pack patience for Monday commute amid I-5 Bridge project

Lengthy delays expected for first workday drive since trunnion repair project began

By , Columbian Sports Editor
Published:
3 Photos
Traffic in Vancouver is diverted into one lane Saturday as the Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project begins. The project was delayed due to wildfires throughout the region.
Traffic in Vancouver is diverted into one lane Saturday as the Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project begins. The project was delayed due to wildfires throughout the region. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

For drivers about to take part in the first workday commute since Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair project began, transportation officials have two tips.

Plan ahead. Be patient.

Sunday saw backups up to four miles on I-5 and heavier-than-usual traffic on I-205.

What will Monday’s commute will bring? Nobody is quite sure.

“As much as we try to get people to plan ahead, we haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Celeste Dimichina, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Transportation. “Pack patience.”

Saturday, crews closed all lanes of the northbound span during the first day of the project, which is expected to last nine days.

That leaves three lanes on the southbound span to be shared between vehicles headed north and south.

The southbound span will feature two southbound lanes and one northbound lane until noon Monday. 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.

With lengthy delays expected Monday on both I-5 and I-205, Dimichina urged commuters to check traffic cameras and plan for lengthy commutes if they can’t work from home.

“Our crews continue to try to get signage up to try and get as much information as possible out to travelers so they can make an informed decision,” Dimichina said.

This weekend, state transportation workers closely monitored traffic cameras and fine-tuned the timing of meter lights at onramps. But despite their best efforts, Dimichina warned that it takes just one driving mishap to turn a slow commute into a standstill.

“It just takes one person missing an exit, texting or a driver not paying attention,” she said.

The trip over the I-5 Bridge will look unusual, even for drivers who have made the I-5 commute thousands of times. That’s why Dinichina urged drivers to expect the unexpected.

“Pay attention, slow down, expect delays,” she said.

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.

Over the next seven 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.

Loading...