Bridge work

Progress across the Interstate 82 bridge was slow going in June 2018 for motorists on the way to the Hermiston High School graduation at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.

Work on the Interstate 82 bridge over the Columbia River at Umatilla is currently on schedule to wrap up in early October, according to a project engineer for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“Because of the weather it could be pushed back a little, but it’s scheduled for October,” Alex Sanguino said.

The eastbound bridge (headed into Oregon) has been closed since the summer of 2017, when WSDOT announced it would be embarking on a roughly 18-month project to replace the bridge’s deck. The roadway was full of patches and had sprouted new holes multiple times in recent years.

After about a year of necessary prep work — including construction to re-reroute all traffic to the parallel bridge that had previously carried two lanes of traffic west — Sanguino said contractors just did their first deck pour last week and have 12 more to go, then an overlay. While the new deck is being put into place crews, are also working on replacing steel parts on the bridge.

“There’s quite a bit of structural work going on,” Sanguino said.

The bridge was built in 1955 and originally carried one lane of traffic in each direction. In 1988 a second bridge was built to carry traffic into Washington and the 1955 bridge was designated for carrying vehicles into Oregon.

Sanguino said that overall, narrowing traffic down to a single bridge hasn’t created many delays, as long as there is not a crash on the bridge. There was one non-crash related backup recently before Hermiston High School’s graduation, which took place for the first time at the Toyota Center in Kennewick. The ceremony started late to accommodate parents who were stuck in traffic while cars merged one at a time onto I-82 at the bridge.

He encouraged drivers crossing the bridge to slow down and keep their eyes on the road.

Washington and Oregon split the cost of maintenance for bridges spanning the Columbia River where it forms the two states’ borders. The I-82 project was expected to cost $10 million and is being managed by Washington.

Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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