New permanent southbound I-5 off-ramp opens to traffic this week; $70M project still ahead of schedule

The ongoing Woodburn Interchange Project is set to clear another lap — ahead of schedule.

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, the interchange’s new permanent southbound Interstate 5 off-ramp was set to open to traffic. The opening marks the first of six new ramps that will be constructed as part of the $70 million capital project.

“We’re hitting a real key landmark here,” said Lou Torres, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of?Transportation. “This is a real milestone for the project.”

The opening of the ramp will bring a couple changes to the movement of traffic at the interchange, not the least of which is that westbound traffic coming off of the new ramp will make a right turn using the new alignment on the north side of Highway 219.

Southbound ramp traffic turning eastbound will continue to use the old alignment, while westbound traffic will split coming off of the bridge and use the new alignment.

Torres said such alignment changes are often difficult to describe in abstract terms, but are easy to implement as long as motorists stay alert and follow the signs and striping.

“It’s all kind of vague to a lot of folks until you actually drive it,” he said. “To build this project requires us to change the alignment periodically and on an ongoing basis, but as long as people are driving cautiously and carefully, they shouldn’t have any problem adjusting.”

The on- and off-ramps are being replaced with new ramps that meet current standards and have higher capacity. In addition, the project adds two new loop ramps for traffic getting on I-5.

Overall, Torres said his agency and the project’s lead contractor, Salem-based K & E Excavating Inc., have been impressed with how traffic has worked with the ongoing construction.

“We’ve been really pleased with the way motorists have adapted,” he said. “And we haven’t had a lot of complaints from folks not understanding or not comprehending.”

Torres has also been very pleased with ODOT’s contractor on the project, with the interchange ahead of schedule to the point that construction looks sure to wrap up by the end of next year. Estimates at the beginning of the project had set the completion date in 2016.

“It’s progressing well. We’re on budget and ahead of schedule,” he said. “Our contractor’s done a great job of keeping this project moving along. We’re all excited. We think this is just going to be a tremendous project for the area.”

For more information, visit the project website at or email wood This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.

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