BREAKING: Nine-day Interstate Bridge closure project delayed due to wildfires

Oregon transportation officials say the decision was made to keep the highways flowing for potential evacuees

VANCOUVER — The long-awaited nine-day closure of the northbound Interstate Bridge span along I-5 has been delayed by Oregon’s Department of Transportation, thanks to wildfires burning on both sides of the Columbia River.

ODOT had planned to begin the closure at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, pushing traffic onto the northbound span for both directions until Sept. 20.

A scheduled nine-day closure of the northbound span of the Interstate Bridge on I-5 has been postponed due to wildfires forcing evacuations in Oregon. File photo
A scheduled nine-day closure of the northbound span of the Interstate Bridge on I-5 has been postponed due to wildfires forcing evacuations in Oregon. File photo

“ODOT and our many partners have put a lot of work into this project over the last few years and it absolutely needs to get done,” said Rian Windsheimer, ODOT manager for the Portland area in a news release Thursday evening.  “But this closure would have created additional congestion and right now we need to keep the highways moving for evacuees and emergency responders.”

The $13 million project has been in the works for more than two years. It involves replacing lift span parts, some of them 103 years old, in the south tower on the northbound bridge, which opened in 1917. A similar project took place in 1997 on the north tower on the northbound span.

A new date for the project has not been set. ODOT said they will work with their partners at Washington Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard to figure out a timeline that works.

The delay comes as welcome news for some, but may anger others. Businesses and their employees have been planning for nearly two years now to take time off in order to hopefully avoid the hours-long backups anticipated during the nine-day closure.

With wildfires forcing tens of thousands to evacuate in Oregon, and threatening some homes in Skamania County, the decision was made to keep the highways open in order to allow people to leave their homes as quickly and safely as possible if needed.

Wildfire resources are available on the governor’s website. The site is being continuously updated.

For more information about the project go to the project web site.

Go to TripCheck.com for up-to-date real time road conditions.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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