• Project

I-5 NB/SB North Fork Lewis River Bridge – Bridge Deck Repair & Overlay

Project overview

This project includes repairing the bridge deck, modifying expansion joints and installing a polyester concrete overlay on both I-5 northbound and southbound bridges over the North Fork Lewis River. Once complete, travelers will experience a smoother, safer driving surface and the commercial vehicle load restriction will be removed.

Spring 2023 - Fall 2024
Project status
The cost of this project is estimated at approximately $17.4 million

What to expect

In summer 2023, deck repair work was completed on the northbound I-5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge. Weather permitting, contractor crews will return this spring/summer 2024 to place a polyester overlay on the deck of the bridge. Travelers should expect weekly nighttime single and double lane closures.

Starting July 2024, contractor crews begin deck repair work along the southbound I-5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge. This work includes structural steel repairs, modifications to the expansion joints and placement of a new polyester concrete overlay. 

Once Construction Begins

Bridge deck work will be performed by working on half of each bridge deck at a time. To create a safe work zone, temporary traffic barrier will be placed down the center of the bridge, and traffic will be reduced and shifted from three lanes down to two narrow lanes (10 feet and 10.5 feet wide) and narrow shoulders.

Additionally, the speed limit will be reduced from 70 mph down to 60 mph through the work zone and reduced again down to 45 mph along the bridge.  

When work has been completed on half of the bridge, the temporary traffic barrier will be shifted slightly and travelers will begin using the remaining half of the bridge, and work will resume. 

Traffic is anticipated to be in these two stages for up to two months. For some construction activities, the highway may be reduced down to a single lane at night.    

Nighttime single and double lane closures will be needed to set-up the Smart Work Zone at the start of construction and for clean-up once deck work is complete. 

Significant delays are expected during peak travel hours. Traffic data shows that Friday afternoons are the worst days to travel, with delays of up to 70 minutes or longer, and traffic backups extending beyond ten miles or more, along the interstate. To minimize delays, plan ahead and travel during non-peak hours!  

Graphic shows the temporary traffic revision along southbound Interstate 5 at the North Fork Lewis River Bridge just south of Woodland Washington.
During construction, traffic on the southbound span of I-5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge, will be shifted from three travel lanes, down to two narrow travel lanes. Ahead of the bridge, travelers will follow signs directing them to begin shifting to either the left and center or right and center lanes.

Use the Travel Delay Charts located under the "Maps & Drawings" tab below, to help you make decisions on when to travel! 

To improve safety, minimize delays and reduce congestion, contractor crews will utilize a temporary Smart Work Zone System and Zipper Merging throughout the work zone.

What is a Smart Work Zone?

Using sensor technology, the Smart Work Zone System analyzes roadway conditions to give travelers real-time traffic information on reader board signs which will be placed at one mile intervals leading up to the work zone. Providing travelers with real-time traffic information helps increase safety by allowing people to make more efficient driving choices as they approach a work zone. In addition to providing real-time traffic information, the reader board signs will provide travelers with an advanced warning that a traffic taper/traffic revision is ahead. This advanced warning system is designed to increase safety by notifying travelers in advanced that they'll begin merging into the reduced number of travel lanes. 

What is Zipper Merging?

As travelers approach the work zone, they'll be directed to begin merging from three full travel lanes down to two narrow travel lanes, across the bridge. To accomplish this, travelers will use Zipper Merging driving the full length of the travel lane and merging just before the lane ends.

Generally, the length of a work zone (closed lane) has minimal effect on traffic delays - the majority of the delays occur at the point where traffic begins merging into the reduced number of lanes.

While it may seem counterintuitive, the early merger who is trying be polite and wait in the queue, is often making congestion worse than the driver who merges closer to the end of the travel lane.

Studies have shown that when traveler’s zipper merge, congestion can be reduced by up to 40 percent, while reducing crashes, backups and delays.

Image shows location of critical bridge deck repair work happening along the I-5 North Fork Lewis River Bridge, at the Clark and Cowlitz county borders, just south of Woodland, WA.