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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023

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Expect more bridge lifts on Interstate 5

River water levels to remain around 12 feet for next week

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

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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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.

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