The Oregon Dept. of Transportation calls it Big Fix PDX. Locals may have some other choice phrases for the effort, but the major repaving and bridge repair work in downtown Portland is much needed despite major traffic woes.
Normally in the world of Portland roadwork, closing a bridge over the Willamette River marks one of the largest congestion-makers in the city. But this summer's roadwork on both Interstate 5 and Interstate 84, often during the same stretches of time, will likely cause traffic backups at a whole new level for the Rose City. Then again, maybe ODOT's threat of three-hour delays simply to move a few miles will do the trick and keep people away from the roadwork area.
As July winds to a close, the Portland metro area remains in the midst of no less than five projects, but two projects will dominate the traffic hassles. A $17.2-million project to pave six miles of I-5, including ramps, will stretch from the Columbia River south to downtown.
At the same time, there is a $6.5-million project to repair and resurface the bridges connecting I-84 and I-5 near downtown. Closing northbound I-5 at the I-84 intersection over multiple weekends will send all traffic off the interstate. ODOT says the repaving will maintain the roadway and ramps to avoid the need for a complete replacement of the stretch, which was last paved 15 years ago.
The timing of the paving coincides with the closure of the three bridges that connect the city’s major north-south interstate (I-5) with its major east-west interstate (I-84). The 24-hour closures that run in multiple two-week stretches, ending Aug. 27, close one of the two ramps at a time, completely eliminating multiple lanes during each closure. I-84 basically Ts at the connection to I-5, sending travelers either north or south along I-5 near the Willamette River.
ODOT says an average of 147,000 vehicles per day pass through the interchange and the concrete ramps that carry the traffic have shown deterioration. Work includes replacing bridge joints and performing structural repairs and resurfacing. In addition to multiple two-week closures this summer, ODOT expects overnight closures through November as the project features a December completion date.
Other projects in the area include paving nine miles on I-205, paving and the addition of an auxiliary lane on I-5 south of Portland and sign replacement projects on stretches of both I-5 and I-84 in the Portland area.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.