The Washington State Department of Transportation doesn’t know exactly when the eastbound Interstate 82 bridge across the Columbia River will reopen, but it won’t be in 2018.
The department had previously said construction on the bridge deck near Umatilla would finish in October, then pushed that timeline to December. But on Wednesday in an email to the East Oregonian, spokeswoman Jackie Ramirez said the bridge that previously took drivers into Oregon will continue to be closed through the winter because crews cannot finish work on the bridge until the weather warms up again.
“Crews will finish pouring the concrete once the weather gets better and completion of the bridge will be in spring/summer of 2019,” she said.
Ramirez said there was some “additional repair work” that cropped up unexpectedly as contractors worked on replacing the bridge deck, and that extra work put them too far behind to finish up concrete overlay pours before cold weather set in.
A smaller crew will continue throughout the winter on repairs that can be completed in cold weather.
The eastbound bridge, built in 1955, had originally carried traffic to and from Oregon before a second westbound bridge was added in 1988 to carry two lanes of traffic into Washington while the 1955 bridge carried two lanes of traffic into Oregon.
Since the summer of 2017 the westbound bridge has carried one lane of traffic each direction while construction crews rebuild the eastbound bridge deck, which had been riddled with holes and patches over time.
Oregon and Washington split the cost of maintenance for bridges that span the Columbia River between the two states. In this case, Washington is managing the project, originally budgeted at $10 million.
Ramirez said WSDOT wanted to remind drivers to be cautious and allow themselves extra time to cross the bridge, as the department has seen traffic delays during peak travel times, such as Thanksgiving weekend.
“We especially see the bridge back up when there is a collision, as crews have to block both lanes to clear the collision,” she said.