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Originally published Monday, October 15, 2012 at 7:27 PM

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More wind, Astoria Bridge closes again

For the second time in 24 hours, high winds have prompted transportation officials to close the Astoria-Megler bridge near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The Associated Press

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For the second time in 24 hours, high winds have prompted transportation officials to close the Astoria-Megler bridge near the mouth of the Columbia River.

Oregon Transportation Department spokesman Rick Little says winds Monday evening once again threatened to detach segments of contractor work decks attached to the bridge.

The National Weather Service says gusts to 40 mph have been reported nearby.

Little says weather conditions may improve after midnight Monday but motorists should anticipate a bridge closure that will last into Tuesday morning.

Workers have been repainting and repairing the bridge. High winds prompted closure of the span Sunday night as a precaution but both lanes had reopened earlier Monday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

High winds over the weekend ripped away platforms workers were using to repaint and repair the landmark Astoria-Megler Bridge near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The span was closed Sunday night as a safety precaution, but both lanes were reopened Monday after engineers inspected the bridge and repairs were started. The bridge itself wasn't damaged, highway officials said.

The bridge links western corners of Washington state and Oregon. Drivers were detoured inland to the Highway 30 bridge between Longview, Wash., and Rainier, Ore.

A ferry between Westport, Ore., and Puget Island, Wash., abandoned its regular schedule to shuttle vehicles continuously across the river, the Daily Astorian reported (

The winds Sunday were strong but not exceptional by coastal standards - National 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," said Rick Little, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The cables secured decking at the side of the bridge that gave workers access to repaint and re-rivet the structure built in the 1960s and once called by the Astoria's mayor, Willis Van Dusen, "the most valuable public asset in Clatsop County."

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, and Little said crews expected to add cable ties to reinforce the decking that wasn't damaged.

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