ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — High winds prompted transportation officials to close the Astoria-Megler Bridge near the mouth of the Columbia River for about four hours late Monday.
The bridge that links the southwest corner of Washington and the northwest corner of Oregon reopened about 10:30 p.m. It was the second time in two days that strong winds had closed the bridge.
Oregon highways spokesman Rick Little said the winds were again threatening to detach segments of contractor work decks attached to the bridge. Workers have been repainting and refurbishing the bridge.
Gusts to 40 mph were reported nearby, the National Weather Service said.
When the span reopened, highway officials said they had determined that the deck segments posed no threat to bridge traffic.
The span was closed in high winds Sunday night as a safety precaution, but both lanes reopened Monday after engineers inspected the bridge. The bridge itself wasn’t damaged, highway officials said.
The weekend winds were strong but not exceptional by coastal standards — weather service equipment registered a top gust of 41 mph, and volunteer observers reported gusts of 50 mph, said meteorologist Beth Burgess.
“We’re not quite sure why the cable ties broke in the wind,” Little said of the earlier problems.
The cables secured decking at the side of the bridge that gave workers access to repaint and re-rivet the structure. It was built in the 1960s and once called “the most valuable public asset in Clatsop County” by Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen.
Work began in July on a five-year, $50 million project to renovate the bridge, which was originally built for $24 million. It was repainted in the 1980s.
The department’s project manager, Steve Templin, said the decking is thin sheet metal, and 500-700 feet of it was hanging by a cable from the side of the bridge Monday morning.
Workers began removing that decking.