On Wednesday, a man stepped out of his olive green Ford Expedition and onto the roadway on Interstate 5 north on Hayden Island and squinted at the bridge ahead, attempting to see beyond the rows of traffic at a dead stop.
“Are you serious?” he exclaimed. “A crash on both sides.”
But there wasn’t a crash; it was a bridge lift.
As is typical for May and June, snow runoff caused by high temperatures has raised water levels in the Columbia River, meaning fewer vessels can pass safely under the “hump” of the I-5 Bridge.
The result? More requests to lift the bridge for river traffic, said Oregon Department of Transportation public information officer Don Hamilton.
And because maritime law gives river traffic priority over highway traffic — except between 6:30 to 9 a.m. and from 2:30 to 6 p.m. — that means one thing: Expect to stop more often when crossing the bridge, at least for a while.
Water levels are at 13 feet, three feet below “flood level,” when some islands and low-lying areas, including parks and trails along the river, will flood.
Water levels are anticipated to hover around 12 feet for the next week, according to the National Weather Service.
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