Drivers headed north on Interstate 5 in Clark County now have a respite from significant backups as repair work on the North Fork Lewis River bridge was completed ahead of schedule.
As of 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 18, all lanes of northbound I-5 on the bridge were clear, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced. Work on the bridge began Sept. 8, snarling traffic heading north toward Woodland.
This year’s work included deck repairs and modifying expansion joints, a release from the department stated. The work extends the usable life of the structure.
The work was the most serious undertaken on the span since it was built in 1968, according to the department. Other than painting in 2013, most previous work was done on an emergency basis.
The intensive repairs of the past several weeks will keep the need for emergency repairs down, and future closures and traffic changes as well, according to the department. Heavy truck traffic will no longer need to shift to the center lane to cross the bridge.
“We understand this work was disruptive to the community, and we appreciate your patience while we made critical repairs to keep this bridge open and safe for the traveling public,” the department stated in the release.
The project was initially expected to take two months to complete. Work crews still need to install a polyester concrete overlay, though warm, dry weather is needed, according to the release.
That overlay is expected to be installed next summer. Crews will utilize nighttime double lane closures to complete this work. In the interim, travelers may experience a rough ride over the bridge.