Night lane closures on the Interstate 5 paving project between Woodburn and the Boone Bridge will begin an hour earlier, starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, in an effort to improve safety and complete the project sooner.
The additional hour is part of an overall safety review in response to recent work zone fatalities, including one in this I-5 work zone.
"We've seen three people killed in Oregon work zones in just the past month," said ODOT Director Matthew Garrett. "We have to do everything we can to protect everyone in work zones—workers and travelers alike."
The project will replace badly rutted pavement on 12.5 miles of I-5, from milepost 271.5 in Woodburn to milepost 283 at the Boone Bridge at Wilsonville. This work, scheduled to be completed in October, will produce a smoother, safer ride and extend the life of the road.
Up to two lanes will be closed at a time. The closures will take place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday night through Friday morning. Travelers should anticipate delays, lane changes and rolling slowdowns in the area.
Longer work hours will mean fewer nights of closed lanes. Even one hour's additional work time each night could mean a reduction in the number of nights needed to complete the paving project, potentially reducing the time needed for the project by as much as three weeks, an ODOT press release said.
The work is being done at night when traffic volumes are low to minimize public inconvenience. Travelers should always expect delays in work zone areas and plan their journeys accordingly, using alternative routes or delaying trips if necessary.
A long-time Knife River Construction Co. employee, Ron Davis, was killed in this work zone in early June.
"Ron's death was a tragic accident that just didn't have to happen," said Knife River Northwest Region President Brian Gray. "The public support since the accident has been very welcome, and we hope that support extends to this new lane-closure practice. We understand an extra hour of closures is a temporary inconvenience, but it should allow us to get in, get done and get out faster."
State crash data for the years 2011-2015 (the most recent available) shows that, on average, one crash occurs in an Oregon work zone every 18 hours.
Travelers should remember the importance of slowing down and focusing as they approach, enter and travel through a work zone, for their own safety, the safety of their passengers, other drivers and workers.
The Oregon State Police will provide increased police presence at the beginning of the work zone to help travelers remember their shared responsibility to travel safely.
"We're fixing your house while you live in it," Garrett said. "Some amount of inconvenience is inevitable. We're trying to keep it to a minimum, but we also need to protect workers' lives."