As the Bridge of the Gods repair work enters its next phase, the structure will be closed to traffic at night starting Monday, Nov. 18.
The bridge will be shut down Monday through Friday, 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m., starting next week, so that contractors can begin replacing and repairing the bridge’s “stringers,” or support beams that are corroding. There will no closures on the weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Day. The Port of Cascade Locks, which owns the 87-year-old bridge, anticipates that the nighttime closures will continue until work on the bridge is completed by the end of January.
The repairs are needed in order to restore the bridge’s weight restrictions, which were lowered to 8 tons by the Oregon Department of Transportation in July. Normally at 40 tons, the structure’s current 8-ton weight limit has essentially forced trucks off the bridge and to find another way to cross the Columbia River. During the nighttime closures, emergency vehicles will still be allowed to cross the bridge, although the port estimated it could take “up to 30 minutes for the work crews to clear the bridge so that emergency vehicles can pass over the bridge.”
Work on the bridge began last month and is expected to continue until the end of January, but the repairs needed to restore the structure’s original weight restrictions are expected to be finished by the end of 2013.
The port received $1.4 million in state and federal funding and contributed $170,000 of its own funds to complete the project and has started a bridge repair and replacement fund to address long-term infrastructure concerns. In order to help support the fund, the port has discussed the possibility of raising bridge tolls. Port of Cascade Locks Interim General Manager Paul Koch said a discussion on a possible toll increase will occur Thursday, Nov. 21, at 5:30 p.m. — half an hour before a regularly scheduled port meeting at Cascade Locks City Hall.