With the closure of I-84 there has been significantly increased traffic congestion on the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge. The bridge is a toll facility, with a toll plaza located on the Oregon side. The plaza has four lanes; two automated “BreezeBy” lanes for prepaid electronic tolling and two “All Transactions” lanes for cash or electronic toll payment. Toll plaza staff are authorized to wave motorists through without charge whenever traffic backs up through the nearby Marina Way intersection or causes impacts on SR-14. During this freeway closure, tolls have been waived frequently. However, this has had a very minimal effect on congestion. The sheer volume of vehicles using the bridge, combined with the narrow travel lanes and traffic control signals on both the Oregon and Washington sides contribute to the congestion. For such a narrow bridge to become, essentially, part of the interstate highway system, backups are simply unavoidable.
With the closure of the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, the Hood River Interstate Bridge is now the first Columbia River crossing east of I-205, more than 60 miles away. Non-resident motorists are encouraged to utilize alternate routes and to cross the Columbia River at The Dalles or Biggs to avoid both tolls and possible congestion at the Hood River Interstate Bridge.
Originally constructed in 1924, the Bridge is functionally obsolete with travel lanes less than 9′ 5″ wide and no shoulders. The Port of Hood River is very grateful for the excellent work of ODOT and WSDOT during the Eagle Creek fire closures as they are directing commercial truck traffic in the region away from the bridge. Large trucks crossing in opposite directions on the bridge can cause major slowdowns because they must pass within inches of each other and it can be very hazardous.
In response to freeway closures and poor air quality, the Port of Hood River suspended tolling on Friday, September 8. Tolling resumed on Wednesday, September 13, at 11:00 a.m. Tolls will continue to be waived when traffic impacts intersections at the bridgeheads. Tolls will continue to be waived for all emergency response vehicles, school buses, and residents of Cascade Locks until further notice.
BreezeBy customers will receive a credit to their account for tolls charged from 12:01 a.m. September 8 through 12:00 noon, September 12.
All bridge users are urged to observe speed limits in the toll plaza area – 5 MPH in the inside, All Transactions lanes and 10 MPH in the outside, BreezeBy Only lanes. Speed limit on the bridge is 25 MPH.
As costs to maintain the aging structure accelerate rapidly while the Port conducts simultaneous efforts to plan for the construction of a replacement bridge, toll revenue remains the primary source of funding for the bridge. The Port wishes to thank all of our transportation partners, bridge users, and especially fire fighters and emergency personnel for their partnership in response to this remarkable situation in the central gorge region.