Many motorists traveling north through Southeast Portland said they were angered, flabbergasted, or stupefied (or perhaps all three) – while other drivers claimed to be just plain surprised – to find northbound Interstate 205 totally closed to all traffic from the evening of August 2 through the morning of August 5.
The closure allowed the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to complete the final phases of announced freeway improvements.
"Only people in the government could come up with such a stupid thing as 'shutting down the freeway' for an entire weekend," fumed Frank Jackson, stuck in a line of northbound traffic on S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses on Saturday, August 3.
"I've had to turn off my air conditioner, because my SUV is overheating," remarked Susan Dumfries, as she waited for vehicles to move through the intersection at S.E. Holgate Boulevard.
ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton gave THE BEE the details: "This work, soon to be concluded on Interstate 205, between Johnson Creek Boulevard and the Glenn Jackson Bridge, includes paving the freeway, ramps, and intersections; building auxiliary lanes in three locations; installing ODOT 'RealTime' signs; improving the entrance to the multi-use path at Glisan Street; and improving sidewalk curb ramps within the project area."
Asked about what led to the decision to shut down a major freeway for an entire weekend, Hamilton said he could sum it up in two words: "'Quicker, cheaper.'
"The evaluations showed that otherwise the work that needed to be done would have required 17 nighttime-only full closures – and it would have cost an additional $600,000, due to starting and stopping the construction every day."
Are you now worried about a massive southbound freeway closure coming next? "Don't be," Hamilton said. "The southbound improvements were done last year – but there may be lane closures for installing 'sign bridges' over the freeway before the project concludes." One of those was set for the Glenn Jackson Bridge over the Columbia River over the weekend of August 10-11.
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