After a smooth morning commute despite some fall rain, Interstate 5 southbound started backing up just after noon Wednesday, the third workday of the Interstate 5 Bridge trunnion repair.
Due to water over the roadway, the northbound I-5 offramp to the City Center exit is closed until further notice, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The northbound I-5 offramp to state Highway 14 is also closed. WSDOT advised drivers to use alternate routes.
The rainwater is pooling in the median between the southbound and northbound sections of the freeway, according to WSDOT spokeswoman Celeste Dimichina, right where northbound drivers would need to cut across to reach the City Center exit ramp. The median barrier normally directs rainwater to flow along the shoulder of the freeway, she said, but that section of the barrier was removed as part of the temporary reconfiguration of the freeway during the I-5 Bridge repair project.
The ramp will likely remain closed until Saturday, she said, based on additional rain in the forecast for the coming days.
North and southbound traffic are sharing the southbound span of the bridge during repairs to the northbound span’s trunnion. The project reduces southbound traffic to two lanes in the morning and one lane in the evening. At noon, crews shift a median to allow two northbound lanes and one southbound lane for the afternoon commute.
By 12:30 p.m. southbound traffic was backed up north of state Highway 500 in Vancouver.
Northbound traffic has been seen back ups each day this week, with slowing starting just north of Columbia Boulevard in Portland during the morning commute and continuing into the afternoon.
Motorists should expect wet driving conditions for the rest of the week as the region gets its first autumn storm, with rain or showers forecast through Saturday. Heavy rain and wind is forecast for late tonight and early Thursday morning.
Interstate 205 has been smooth sailing today.