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Freeway traffic will be delayed on four coming weekends
by: Tribune File Photo, An $11 million repaving project will close sections of Interstate 405 for four weekends. Oregon’s Department of Transportation plans to use a new type of asphalt for the project.

Portland-area drivers should prepare for major traffic delays on four weekends through mid-September when a two-mile section of Interstate 405 is repaved between the Marquam and Fremont bridges.

'We are asking people to plan ahead, to take their time and be patient,' said Oregon Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Miles.

The repaving is scheduled to minimize the impact on rush hour traffic. It is set to occur between 10 p.m. on Fridays and 5 a.m. on Mondays. However, all lanes of traffic in one direction will be closed on each of the weekends. The ramps connecting those lanes to other roads will also be closed.

'Full closures will be safer for the construction workers and the public,' said Miles. 'They are only one direction at a time and detours will be set up to help people get around.'

Both bridges will remain open during the repaving, with traffic in the affected lanes being detoured off I-405 before the construction zones. Interstate 5 is the major alternative route through Portland. Routes in and out of downtown and the Pearl District will also be marked.

Workers will be applying a form of asphalt that is relatively new on the West Coast. Called Stone Matrix Asphalt, it has been used in Europe, on the East Coast and in the Midwest for more than 20 years, said Ron Larson, ODOT's manager for the project.

According to Larson, SMA is more durable than other asphalt mixes. He said it can also be applied thinner, an important factor on I-405 where five overpasses have limited clearances.

'We literally cannot increase the height of I-405 at all, so SMA is a big advantage there,' he said.

Although Larson said the SMA mix is more sensitive than other forms of asphalt, ODOT officials are not anticipating the kind of problems that occurred more than 10 years ago on Highway 217. There repaved asphalt quickly broke up after the highway was reopened. Miles said that happened because the asphalt was applied when the temperature was too cold, preventing it from curing.

Although Miles admits the project will inconvenience many motorists, she said full directional closures are more practical than nightly closures on shorter stretches of the freeway.

'We determine the full closures will be safer for the workers and public,' said Miles.

I-405 Paving map

Here is a map of ODOT's repaving project.

The first weekend a direction is closed, the old asphalt will be removed and the new asphalt will be applied on those lanes. The second weekend the lanes are closed, the signs will be replaced and the lanes will be restriped.

The construction schedule is subject to change, depending on weather and other conditions. The current schedule is as follows:

• Friday, Aug. 14, through Monday, Aug. 17: All northbound lanes and ramps on I-405 will be closed between the bridges. Southbound lanes and ramps will remain open.

• Friday, Aug. 21, through Monday, Aug. 24: All southbound lanes and ramps on I- 405 will be closed between the bridges. Lanes and ramps on northbound I-405 will remain open.

• Friday, Aug. 28, through Monday, Aug. 31: Southbound I-405 will once again be closed. Northbound I-405 will remain open.

• Friday, Sept. 11, through Monday, Sept. 14: Northbound I-405 will be closed. Southbound I-405 will remain open.

The project is budgeted at $11.6 million, with about 30 percent of the money coming from federal stimulus program, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The work is done by Kerr Contractors Inc. of Woodburn.

More information on the project is available at

Updates are also availlable at

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