A major span across the Columbia River that connects important economic traffic to and from Columbia County closes Saturday, Sept. 19 for improvement work.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is alerting motorists to be prepared for nine days of shifting lanes, travel delays and slow traffic on both the north and south sides of the bridge carrying I-5 over the Columbia River.
The nine-day closure of the northbound span of the I-5 Interstate Bridge is set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
The closure will bring with it the possibility of nine days of major congestion throughout the Portland and Vancouver area.
Travelers should be prepared. Consider delaying or shifting trips, taking transit, or working from home or another location if possible. Make a plan and not only will you help your own commute but maybe help reduce congestion for everyone else as well.
The northbound span is 103 years old and this closure is needed to replace some of those original components. This is early 20th century technology with clanging steel, blaring horns and a system of pulleys and cables that raise and lower the bridge. These parts perform an essential function in keeping the bridge operating and keeping river traffic moving on the Columbia River.
If drivers change their traveling habits, we can reduce the amount of potential congestion throughout the region. So make your alternate travel plan now, check TripCheck.com (and WSDOT alerts in Washington) and feel confident that you can make it to your destination on time.
Friday night, Sept. 18, double lane closures begin at 8 p.m. in both directions of I-5 to install the zipper barrier.
During the nine-day closure, northbound and southbound traffic will share the three lanes and sidewalk on the southbound span. Movable concrete barriers will allow two lanes of traffic in the busiest direction, with two southbound lanes open for the morning commute and two northbound lanes open for the afternoon commute.
The sidewalk on the southbound span will remain open at all times for people walking or riding bicycles. View detour information.
During the bridge closure, four ramps in the project area will close for traffic control and to ensure a safe work zone:
- Marine Drive on-ramp to I-5 north in Portland.
- Hayden Island on-ramp to I-5 north in Portland.
- I-5 north to SR 14 off-ramp in Vancouver.
- SR 14/Washington Street on-ramp to I-5 south in Vancouver.
Signs will direct travelers to detour routes. Learn more on the project website.
Sept. 27-Oct. 4: Lane closure on I-5 south
The left lane on the southbound span will close Sept. 27-Oct. 4 around the clock as crews upgrade the median barrier, remove equipment and wrap up the project.
Before and after the closure, travelers should expect occasional night lane closures on I-5, up to 30-minute bridge lifts on the northbound span and nighttime ramp closures between Victory Boulevard in Portland and SR 14 in Vancouver.
Slow down and watch for traffic changes
- Be alert: Traffic patterns will be new and unfamiliar. Pay complete attention to your driving. Inattentive drivers are the most common cause of work zone crashes.
- Slow down: The speed limit will drop to 40 mph. Expect delays — plan for them — and leave early so you can drive safely through the work zone.
About the project
The northbound span of the Interstate Bridge will close Sept. 19-27, 2020 as crews replace century-old mechanical parts that help lift and lower the bridge. The Interstate Bridge is located on I-5 where it connects Oregon and Washington across the Columbia River.
The bridge closure is scheduled for September in part due to the low river levels, which allow most vessels to travel under the Interstate Bridge without a bridge lift. This is essential for marine traffic on the Columbia River, a critical international shipping channel.
About the bridge
The Interstate Bridge is jointly owned by Oregon and Washington and is maintained and operated by ODOT. The two states are sharing the $13 million cost of this project. The northbound span opened in 1917 and the southbound span in 1958.
- Go to InterstateBridge.org, the project web site, for maps and detour directions, bike and pedestrian information, travel strategies and other project details.
- Visit our Flickr for video and photos.