Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Lewis and Clark Bridge to close for repairs

Travelers using the Lewis and Clark Bridge connecting Longview and Rainier, Oregon will need to plan ahead, expect extra congestion during nighttime commutes and prepare for a lengthy detour as this five-week repair project begins next week.

On Monday, June 26, Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crews from Combined Construction, Inc. will begin the long-awaited project to replace two bridge expansion joints and a fractured floor beam. Each evening one lane will be closed, and flaggers will alternate across the bridge one direction at a time.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, July 16 the Lewis and Clark Bridge will close to vehicle traffic for up to eight days. The bridge must be closed to ensure a long-lasting repair and for the safety of travelers and construction crews in the work zone. To set the new expansion joints in place, crews will pour concrete which needs four days to cure and strengthen, without movement and disturbance from moving traffic. The replacement of the floor beam also requires there be no traffic on the bridge. Pedestrians, bicyclists and emergency responders will be able to cross the bridge during the closure except during a 10-hour window when the floor beam is being replaced.

“Safety is our number one priority during the closure of this critical bridge, for travelers, construction crews and those who need access across the river for life-saving medical care,” said WSDOT Southwest Region Administrator Carley Francis. “We are asking the public to avoid use of the low-capacity ferry in order to prioritize its use for first responders, healthcare workers and patients needing medical care who can’t wait.”

Construction schedule

Five weeks of construction will begin Monday, June 26 with nightly single lane closures until the full closure of the bridge to vehicle traffic. Contractor crews will reduce travel across the bridge to one lane each night beginning at 8 p.m. and alternate traffic through the work zone.

Most single lane closures will occur Monday through Thursday evenings, but occasional weekend evenings may be used. Single lane closures may occur during the following times:

· 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sundays through Fridays

· 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Fridays to Saturdays

· 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. Saturdays to Sundays.

There will be no single lane closures during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Friday, June 30 – Tuesday, July 4 and during the Rainier Days event on Saturday, July 8.

The closure of Lewis and Clark Bridge for up to eight days begins at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 16.

Emergency vehicles – including only ambulances with active critical medical needs or law enforcement emergency response – can use the bridge during the closure except when crews install the new floor beam. The timing of this work will be communicated with first responders in advance. Ferry access is being prioritized to accommodate urgent, but non-emergency medical needs and first responder travel.

Pedestrians and bicyclists will have access during the bridge closure, except during the floor beam replacement work, but due to safety, no park and ride facilities are available.

For the safety of travelers and the construction crew, the work zone will have reduced speed limits.

Plan ahead for lengthy detours

During the closure, all traffic crossing the Columbia River will detour to either the US 101 Astoria-Megler Bridge between Megler, Washington and Astoria, Oregon, or the Interstate 5 Bridge between Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon.

Ferry service

The Wahkiakum County Ferry between Cathlamet, Washington and Westport, Oregon will run twice an hour 24 hours a day while the bridge is closed. This ferry has extremely limited capacity. Its use should be reserved for urgent matters that do not require an ambulance. A priority lane will be established and enforced to accommodate ambulances and first responders on return trips from the hospital in Longview; healthcare and first responder commutes to work; and medical needs like chemotherapy or other critical but non-emergency medical appointments. All other travelers should expect hours of lengthy wait times and long lines.

Medical access

Depending on where people begin and end their travel, using the detour routes can add upwards of two and a half hours of travel time. People who use the SR 433 Lewis and Clark Bridge to access scheduled medical services should plan their travel time with this in mind and contact their providers to confirm or reschedule their appointments.

The five-week construction schedule of nighttime lane closures and a bridge closure shortens the construction timeline for this approximately $1.4 million preservation project. It also avoids months of daytime single lane closures that would create congestion throughout southwest Washington and northwest Oregon.

On April 12, bridge inspectors discovered a fractured floor beam resulting in an emergency 12-hour closure. Prior to that discovery, the bridge was scheduled to close for up to six days for expansion joint replacement work. The closure has been extended to accommodate the additional work of installing a new floor beam.

The traveling public can stay up-to-date on bridge repair news and closure dates and may subscribe to email alerts for this project.

 

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