Cable collapse highlight I-5 Bridge safety concerns
A 275-foot, 2-inch-thick cable fell along a narrow pathway of the southbound Interstate Bridge span on Thursday, Nov. 17. No cars or pedestrians were in the area, and nobody was hurt. The incident required a lift of the southbound span for repairs, however.
Experts say this is just the latest of many safety issues on the bridge that thousands cross every day between Oregon and Washington. A project to replace the aging spans has been authorized by both states.
"We've always got a lot of safety issues with this bridge," said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton. "This is just one of the issues going on with the Interstate Bridge."
The cable came crashing down just after 3:30 p.m.
"This was 275 feet of cable that connects the two towers," Hamilton said. "Two inches thick. That's a lot of very, very heavy cable that fell onto the southbound sidewalk basically."
Crews were able to successfully remove the cable and repair the damage in roughly 30 minutes following a brief bridge lift. While transportation teams are still working to determine what caused the cable to come down, Hamilton said they do not believe it was weather related.
"The southbound span opened 64 years ago," Hamilton said. "This is not a new bridge; it is always needing upgrades. This is why there is a bridge replacement process underway right now."
According to Hamilton, frequent closures, repairs, and an active joint problem have created regular hazards and delays for commuters.
Plans to build a new bridge over the Columbia River received a boost last summer, with Portland and Vancouver city council signing off on the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program.
"The Interstate Bridge is a vital link connecting the region," said Program Director Greg Johnson. "Replacing the aging Interstate Bridge with a modern, seismically resilient, multimodal structure that provides improved mobility for people, goods and services is a high priority for both states."
Last month that program was awarded a $1 million tanning grant to conduct studies that mitigate the effects of earthquakes, boost development and analyze risk reduction.
A previous Business Tribune story on the I-5 Bridge can be found here.
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