PORTLAND – A new lane change on the Interstate 84 exit to Interstate 5 North caused confusion Monday as drivers made sudden lane changes, jamming traffic.
The I-5 North on ramp was permanently changed from two lanes to one to cut down on crashes involving sideswiped cars, said Don Hamilton, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation. But on the first day of the change, many motorists were confused and making sudden turns across lanes of traffic to exit onto I-5.
“We’ve seen an awful lot of sideswiped crashes here in the last couple of years in this stretch, when two lanes were coming off of Interstate 84 going onto I-5 north,” said Hamilton. “Once you got on that ramp, motorists were faced with two quick choices for exit-only lanes. And that created an awful lot of sideswiped crashes.”
Hamilton said just a few weeks ago, a truck ended up going over the side of the overpass and fell down onto the road below after getting hit from the side.
Hamilton also said there have been a high number of rear-end crashes in the area because of the two lanes. ODOT officials said they hope this new exit ramp will cut down on the number of crashes.
Officials said drivers who want to exit onto I-5 north should move to the right lane as soon as possible, at least by the time they reach Lloyd Center.
"Some people are still getting used to it at this point," said Hamilton. "It's going to take a little bit of time as everybody gets accustomed to the new pattern."
The new lane was installed as part of the repaving project that closed I-84 for three weekends this summer. The paving project was completed Sunday and all other highway lanes were open Monday morning.