OnTrac is the largest regional ground transportation network in the country. We rely on the road infrastructure to move our trailers through states, between facilities, and from our docks to the customer’s doorstep. Along the three Pacific Coast states, Interstate 5 is vital to our network connectivity.Running 1,381 miles through California, Oregon and Washington, I-5 spans all the way from the country’s busiest border crossing in San Ysidro / San Diego continuing north to the Peach Arch Border Crossing into Canada. Each day OnTrac transports freight up and down the I-5 corridor. Each section of I-5 has its unique territorial challenges. Near major metropolitan areas, heavy traffic is the biggest headache for our freight delivery teams. The I-5 bottleneck through downtown Seattle is rated the 17th worst in the entire nation. In California, the evening rush hour on I-5 Los Angeles and Orange County is the worst traffic in the state. Ask any resident in Southern California about traffic and you’re in for an ear-full. The afternoon commute from Portland across the Interstate Bridge into Southwest Washington is pure gridlock – bumper to bumper every day with an average speed of 13 mph.
While traffic gives everyone a headache, I-5 isn’t always a parking lot. If you start in Southern California and drive up and over Tejon Pass, eventually the freeway goes through long, flat, rural stretches of California’s Central Valley. Tejon Pass, elevation 4,160, is the highest point on I-5 in California and sometimes closes when severe winter weather hits. In the Central Valley, I-5 runs parallel to Hwy 99 and bypasses the region’s major population centers and therefore has less traffic. Depending on the person, this section of I-5 could be described as pleasant or desolate. On this leg of I-5, farms and fields stretch out to the East and the Coastal Mountain Range in the distance to the West.
If you keep going north on I-5 through the Sacramento Valley you start gaining back elevation. After you pass through Redding, CA, and enter the Cascade Mountain Range the increase in elevation creates some nasty winter weather. Winding roads, snow, ice, and fog slow transportation through the mountain passes. The highestpoint on I-5 is Siskiyou Summit just north of the California-Oregon border. With an elevation of 4,310 feet and steep, winding terrain, this neck of I-5 can become impassable and is often closed until the weather subsides and the roads are safe to travel. Travelers are often required to chain up and use extreme caution.
Once truckers and travelers safely pass through the Siskiyous and cruise on through Medford, OR, it is smooth driving for a few hundred miles through the Umpqua Valley and north through the Willamette Valley until you hit the major metropolitan areas of Salem and Portland. Passing over the Columbia River on the border of Oregon and Washington, the speed limit on I-5 increases to 70 MPH, making your trip a little faster! If you’re heading from Vancouver, WA to Vancouver, BC you’ll be on the road for a little over 300 miles.
Love it or hate it, I-5 is travelled for thousands of miles each day by drivers and truckers carrying OnTrac freight. This one stretch of freeway continuously spans three states and connects three different countries and hundreds of cities and towns. Next time you drive the five, consider all the folks who spend their day on the road for OnTrac!