Interstate ramp closure, lane closures create nightmare commute on I-205

I-205 backup on July 9, 2018. KATU photo

PORTLAND, Ore. – Major delays on Interstate 205 caused Vancouver drivers to be stuck in traffic for 80 minutes on their way to Portland Monday morning, and officials say a mechanical problem is to blame.

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials were already warning motorists of delays after to the Interstate 5 South ramp to Interstate 84 East closed Sunday night for repairs.

I-205 South was a recommended detour.

Unfortunately, an “equipment and material malfunction” caused ODOT to close two lanes of I-205 South, creating a horrible backup well into Vancouver.

The lane closures were just north of I-84 at Northeast Halsey Street.

A contracting crew was replacing concrete approaches to a freeway overpass, which is the first of several projects adding a lane on I-205.

The concrete didn't harden like it was supposed to because of a mechanical breakdown that kept a hardener from mixing into the concrete. Workers tried fixing the machine, but a second pour failed too.

The lanes reopened around 8:40 a.m.

"At that point we realized we need to get the road open because we are ruining the commute of thousands of people," said ODOT spokesperson Kimberly Dinwiddie.

Some drivers ask why the department took a risk of tying up traffic when another major closure was expected on the other primary north/south route.

Dinwiddie says ODOT doesn't have much choice.

"We don't have much dry weather and warm enough temperatures to do this work. Because of the weather conditions, we're frequently balancing our projects and working on various corridors at the same time," she said.

ODOT said it has suspended the I-205 work with that contractor.

"Until the contractor can come up with a contingency plan to ensure that these delays don't happen again," Dinwiddie said.

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