The planned nine-day closure of the northbound span of the Interstate 5 bridge starting Saturday has been postponed to prevent congestion during evacuations from wildfires, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced Thursday evening.
Initially scheduled to begin at midnight Sept. 12, the planned closure to replace the lifting mechanism of the northbound span was pushed back given the potential for greater traffic of individuals following evacuation orders due to the recent wildfires across the west coast.
“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,” ODOT Portland-area manager Rian Windsheimer said in the announcement, “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 planned for two years, the announcement stated, and would replace lift span parts that were up to 103 years old. This year’s planned project would work on the south tower of the northbound bridge, similar to a project on the span’s south tower in 1997.
ODOT recommended those who could stay put to stay off the roads during the wildfire crisis, prioritizing the roads for evacuees and emergency responders.
Both Oregon and Washington’s departments of transportation will be reaching out to contractors and the U.S. Coast Guard to discuss a new schedule, the announcement stated.
— The Reflector