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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Interstate 5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge reopens after repairs

By , Columbian staff writer

Work on the Interstate 5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge has concluded until next summer, ending construction-caused delays of up to 50 minutes at peak times and limiting emergency lane closures to repair holes in the bridge.

Located near Woodland at the border of Clark and Cowlitz counties, the bridge’s northbound span has been under the knife since early August as a Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crew repaired the bridge deck and modified its expansion joints, extending the usable life of the 55-year-old structure.

With the repairs, travelers will experience fewer unplanned emergency lane closures on the northbound span. Heavy truck traffic will no longer need to shift to the center lane to cross the bridge.

Due to a delay, crews were unable to install a polyester concrete overlay. The work requires dry and warm conditions and will be completed next summer. It is expected to take a few days to complete.

Work on the bridge’s southbound span will also start next summer. It will mirror the work done on the northbound span.


The bridge has experienced a litany of problems over the past year, primarily due to the structure’s age and use. The bridge has been patched so many times that there is little surface left that is not patchwork.

The southbound span was built in 1940 and the northbound span was built in 1968. About 41,000 vehicles drive over it daily (for reference, about 130,000 people drive over the Interstate 5 Bridge and 20,000 drive over the Lewis and Clark Bridge between Longview and Rainier, Ore.).

The deck repairs are part of a $17.4 million, two-summer project to improve the safety and driveability of the bridge.

The bridge joins a group of other bridges in Southwest Washington that require replacement or work. There are replacement efforts for the Interstate 5 Bridge, the Hood River-White Salmon Bridge and the I-5 East Fork Lewis River Bridge (near La Center, south of the I-5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge).

Additionally, the Bridge of the Gods near Stevenson requires seismic upgrades and the Lewis and Clark Bridge was closed to non-emergency vehicle traffic for a few days in July to replace two expansion joints and a fractured floor beam.

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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.