ODOT says the goal is to open another lane of traffic in each direction on the structurally troubled bridge. Currently, two of the four lanes of traffic in each direction are closed and have been closed for weeks.
While ODOT says it is considering opening a third lane each way to car traffic, it says it is also considering simultaneously eliminating all heavy truck traffic from the bridge. A decision is expected to be made perhaps in 2 weeks or at the latest by the end of the month.
ODOT is concerned about how much weight the bridge can support. Studies are underway right now mapping out different scenarios on what the bridge can handle. The information was collected during a stress test that was ordered for the bridge last month after ODOT said the support beams were aging faster than expected.
ODOT says if the tests results allow for the opening of another lane for cars, the East 9th ramp would also likely be reopened as well. Right now, the ramp is closed along with several others because the flow of traffic would be difficult to manage with the current two lanes of traffic.
ODOT is considering all its options including replacing the entire bridge or trying to determine whether it can be fixed in sections.
A $140 million dollar overhaul project for the Innerbelt isn't scheduled to take place until November 2009.