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This ‘structurally deficient’ I-82 bridge took 2 years to fix. It’s ready to open again

The bridge carrying Interstate 82 into Oregon reopens next week after a two-year $11 million project to rebuild the aging bridge deck. The two-bridge crossing will be fully open in time for July 4, 2019.
The bridge carrying Interstate 82 into Oregon reopens next week after a two-year $11 million project to rebuild the aging bridge deck. The two-bridge crossing will be fully open in time for July 4, 2019.

The bridge carrying Interstate 82 into Oregon reopens next week after an $11 million reconstruction diverted traffic to a separate bridge for more than two years.

I-82 crosses the Columbia River on two spans.

The older of the two, built in 1955, was the lone bridge until 1988, when a second bridge was built to divide opposing traffic.

Routine wear and tear landed it on Washington’s list of more than 130 “structurally deficient” bridges.

Rebuilding the deck of the steel truss structure began two years ago. During construction, the newer bridge carried the 8,150 vehicles that cross the river on I-82 each day.

The Oregon- and Washington-bound bridges will be fully open by the end of June, in time for July 4 holiday traffic, said Jackie Ramirez, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Transportation.

Umatilla Bridge reconstruction.jpg
The bridge carrying Interstate 82 into Oregon reopens next week after a two-year $11 million project to rebuild the aging bridge deck. The two-bridge crossing will be fully open in time for July 4, 2019. Courtesy Washington Department of Transportation

DOT expects to reopen the closed bridge sometime next week, but the exact day has not been set.

Open for July 4 holiday traffic

DOT said there will be lane closures on both bridges as workers complete repairs and remove the temporary barrier installed on the Washington-bound bridge during construction.

The results included slowdowns at the Columbia River and an epic traffic jam in 2017 when a solar eclipse cast a shadow across a swath of Oregon.

Umatilla Bridge.jpg
A pair of bridges carries Interstate 82 over the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. The older Oregon-bound bridge is reopening after a two-year, $11 million project to rebuild the deck. Both bridges will be fully open by July 4. Courtesy Washington Department of Transportation

Washingtonians who trekked to Oregon to experience the eclipse in the path of totality found themselves backed up for miles on the homeward trip.

Work was supposed to wrap up in a little more than a year but was delayed by cold weather and unexpected complications.

Washington and Oregon share responsibility for the nine “Border Bridges” crossing the Columbia at Longview, Portland, The Dalles, Biggs Junction and Umatilla.

Washington took the lead on the Umatilla project.

Spokane-based Max J. Kuney Co. is the contractor.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.
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