PORTLAND -- Oregon Department of Transportation officials are meeting this week to sort a weekend driver's nightmare created by a construction closure of southbound I-5 through central Portland.

Dave Thompson with ODOT thanked drivers who avoided the area, and issued an apology to those stuck in the jam.

We told people to expect congestion, we told people to expect delays, and then quite honestly it was worse than we predicted. So I want to thank the drivers who got caught in this that kept their patience, I want to thank the drivers that stayed away- and I want to apologize to everybody because it was a mess.

Traffic snarled on the first day of a detour around Interstate 5 repaving between the Rose Quarter and the Marquam Bridge.

Concrete pavement between the interstate bridges, along with Holladay Street in the Rose Quarter is being replaced. Deck joints on the elevated freeway are also being replaced, along with the stormwater drainage system.

Background: ODOTasks drivers to avoid major freeways in Portland

By Sunday, ODOT had put up more signs before the detours to warn drivers, and also added more traffic diversion barrels to force drivers into the proper lanes sooner.

We should have started the barrels sooner, ODOT spokesperson Kimberly Dinwiddie told KGW. They should have been placed at Alberta Street, but for whatever reason that didn t happen.

The barrels to divert southbound I-5 traffic did start at Alberta Street on Sunday, farther north than they were placed Saturday.

Map: I-5 closures for next few weekends

Vehicles moved more smoothly throughout most of Sunday as a result of the changes, and lighter traffic volumes helped, as well.

Still, delays developed late in the afternoon, especially for traffic using the Rose Quarter exit.

ODOT continues to recommend avoiding the area altogether, and using Interstate 205 if possible, during the construction periods. The southbound lanes will be closed again next weekend, and then the northbound lanes will close for the following two weekends.

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