Ashland residents and hotel guests near Exit 14 will have to put up with three to five more nights of construction noise after an equipment breakdown temporarily halted work in the area, Oregon Department of Transportation officials said on Monday.

Ashland residents and hotel guests near Exit 14 will have to put up with three to five more nights of construction noise after an equipment breakdown temporarily halted work in the area, Oregon Department of Transportation officials said on Monday.

Bridge deck demolition work on the Exit 14 overpass had been going ahead of schedule, with crews hoping to wrap up the work by Saturday.

An equipment breakdown on Thursday slowed down the project. A compressor part had to be flown in, ODOT officials said.

"I am really sorry Ashland has had to go through this, especially at night," ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said on Monday. "It's a real unfortunate event. Our hands are tied. It has to be done. I'm presuming that ear plug sales are doing really well in Ashland."

Leaming said ODOT officials are hoping that the contractor on the project doesn't experience any more equipment breakdowns. However, high water pressure needed to blast the bridge deck also puts strain on equipment, he said.

Workers are blasting decaying concrete from the bridge deck using high pressure water.

The work is being done at night to lessen impacts on I-5 traffic. Freeway traffic is being diverted off I-5 and through the Exit 14 on- and off-ramps because of falling debris from the overpass bridge.

ODOT officials originally had not planned to have to do so much bridge demolition work, but crews discovered that the bridge deck was in worse shape than expected once construction work started.

Hotels have been advised to book guests in rooms that are farthest from the construction area. ODOT has been fielding complaints about the night-time noise, especially from Ashland residents living in the Tolman Creek Road area, Leaming said. ODOT had originally planned to have the Exit 14 overhaul finished in April, but now the completion date has been pushed back to Labor Day in early September, Leaming said.

He said the bridge will begin looking fairly complete by June, when Ashland's summer tourist season kicks into high gear and California tourists flood through Exit 14. Lighting, landscaping and other aspects of the project will still be unfinished in the early summer, Leaming said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.