Reading this on the KGW app? Tap here for a multimedia story.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The ramp connecting Interstate 5 southbound to Interstate 84 eastbound closed Sunday night and will remain closed for the next two weeks.
About 140,000 drivers use the ramp daily, so the Oregon Department of Transportation said to expect major delays. Drivers are bracing for the worst.
The closure is expected to make driving especially tough for people commuting south into Portland from Clark County.
In the months leading up to the closure, the Oregon Department of Transportation said the best alternate route was to take Interstate 205 from Clark County to I-84 to come into Portland.
However, bad surface repairs Sunday night kept two of the three lanes of the ramp from I-205 to I-84 closed until about 8:30 a.m. The backup on 205 caused delays of 20 minutes to two hours, according to tripcheck.com.
"We have spent months directing traffic to I-205 as an alternative to the ramp closure on southbound I-5 and we wound up sending them into an awful delay," said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton. "We apologize and are taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Hamilton also said ODOT will fine the contractor $13,000 for the delay in opening the road, per the terms of the contract.
The other alternative for I-5 commuters who took their usual route from Clark County was to take the Fremont Bridge, get on I-405 south to the Marquam Bridge, and catch the I-84 ramp from I-5 northbound.
“Pray a lot,” said Annissa Hollenbeck on Sunday about how she planned to deal with the traffic backup. “Lord, give me patience.”
“It is going to be horrible,” said Dustin Jones, who said he was anticipating an awful morning commute.
Horrible, a nightmare, and "Carmageddon" are just a few of the ways people have described what is ahead for drivers this summer.
"This is going to be a huge traffic headache for really everybody in the area,” Hamilton said. “Any time you take a major ramp like that out of action, it's going to cause a lot of residual problems on some of the neighborhood streets, on some of the other interstates in the area, we're expecting this to be major delays.”
“I'm pretty much setting aside a few hours to get to and from the bridge,” Hollenbeck said.
ODOT suggests working from home, taking public transit, or even going on vacation if you can.
Those options are not realistic for everyone, so ODOT released a Spotify Playlist with songs such as Stealers Wheel's “Stuck in the Middle With You” and the Talking Heads' “Road to Nowhere” for those stuck in traffic. The playlist is named Gridlock Grooves.
“It's not going to make it any easier or better, but it might make it a little more fun,” Hamilton said.
“I hope it's like three hours long because that's how long you're going to be sitting in your car,” Jones said.
What’s closed: I-5 southbound ramp to I-84 eastbound
When: July 8 at 10 p.m. through July 23 at 5 a.m.
What’s closed: I-84 westbound to I-5 northbound ramp
When: July 25 at 10 p.m. through August 6 at 5 a.m.
What’s closed: I-84 westbound to I-5 southbound ramp
When: August 17 at 10 p.m. through August 27 at 5 a.m.
Other closures: Some nighttime lane closures
See all these projects on ODOT's closure map.