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Monday, October 2, 2023
Oct. 2, 2023

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Southwest Washington bridges in focus as road work season gets underway

Travelers should be prepared for delays in region’s work zones

By , Columbian staff writer

Seemingly everywhere you look, people are sporting their shades and sandals, blotched with sunscreen — and soon experiencing the road work season in full bloom.

As is typical for the good weather months, travelers can expect to see work zones throughout Southwest Washington into the fall, while maintenance crews conduct planned construction and critical pavement and pothole repair work.

Here are some of the biggest projects:

Lewis and Clark Bridge finger joint and floor beam replacement

The Lewis and Clark Bridge connecting Longview and Rainier, Ore., will be closed for up to eight days starting 8 p.m. July 16. Additionally, there will be nightly single-lane closures starting the week of June 26.

The bridge will be closed for finger joint replacements and a floor beam, which will extend the service life of the bridge.

During the total closure, the nearest detours for vehicle traffic will be the Astoria-Megler Bridge or Interstate 5 Bridge, although pedestrians and emergency vehicles can cross the bridge during the road closure, except during the up-to-two-day beam replacement.

Originally scheduled for six days, the closure was extended to eight after a bridge inspection in April uncovered a fractured floor beam leading to an emergency closure.

North Fork Lewis River Bridge bridge deck repair and overlay

Both spans of the North Fork Lewis River Bridge on I-5 near Woodland are scheduled for a bridge deck repair and overlay this summer and next. Work is expected to begin in late July and has an estimated $17.4 million price tag.

For two months, seven days a week, three lanes will be reduced to two narrow lanes, which is expected to create long backups and significant delays. The most significant impacts anticipated could include more than 50 minutes of delay on Friday afternoons between La Center and Woodland.

The bridge has experienced a litany of problems over the past few months, primarily due to the structure’s age and use — the southbound span was built in 1940 and the northbound span was built in 1968.

Since mid-April, three holes appeared on the bridge causing a lane closure and slowdowns while Washington State Department of Transportation installed a temporary bridge deck patch until more permanent work could be done.

Cowlitz River Bridge concrete deck patching

Starting in June, WSDOT crews will remove all non-concrete patches and replace them with concrete material on several bridges, including the I-5 Cowlitz River Bridges near Toledo and Vader in Lewis County.

If the weather allows, WSDOT officials expect the northbound work to begin on June 5 and southbound work to start on June 12. This project is expected to be finished by June 15.

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During the project, one lane will be closed to traffic for up to four days during both the northbound and southbound work.

I-5 southbound/ Dike Access Road

Work to improve southbound I-5 Dike Access Road Bridge just north of Woodland in Cowlitz County will start in late August or early September. Contractors will repair the deteriorating bridge deck.

During construction, I-5 in the construction area will be reduced from three lanes to two narrow lanes. The most significant impacts anticipated could include up to 60- to 90-minute delays on Sunday afternoons through Woodland.

Interstate 5 and 205 concrete panel replacement and joint rehabilitation

A project replacing roughly 100 concrete panels along both directions of I-205 between the Glenn Jackson Bridge and the I-5/I-205 split, which began in the summer of 2022, will continue.

Several of the existing concrete panels are cracked, broken and not seated properly, causing an uneven driving surface. The approximately $7 million project will also rehabilitate the bridge joints on several bridges along both directions of I-205.

During construction, travelers on both I-5 and I-205 will encounter nighttime single- and double-lane closures, ramp closures and temporary speed limit reductions.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.