Be prepared for big backups region-wide during Interstate 5 closures June 1-4

Contractor crews tear up old concrete on northbound I-5
in Seattle during the May 19-20 weekend closure. (Photo courtesy WSDOT)

While you may have just finished battling Memorial Day traffic, the Washington State Department of Transportation is warning about traffic jams next weekend, June 1-4, as Interstate 5 road construction returns in a big way.

This work includes two weekends of a full closure of northbound I-5 at the West Seattle Bridge. The full closures of the freeway allow crews to complete work equal to six partial closures in just one weekend.

Completely closing northbound I-5 will also allow the contractor access to 14 of the 37 expansion joints located in a very tight space, with limited shoulder widths and large machinery, WSDOT said. Unlike previous weekends with partial lane closures, there’s simply not enough room in this section of I-5 to replace the old expansion joints while keeping lanes open for travelers.

Northbound I-5 will begin narrowing to two lanes at 8 p.m. Friday, June 1, near Southcenter as crews also repair expansion joints at the Duwamish River in order to combine work and reduce the number of weekends of lane closures on this major north-south route.

The second weekend closure is tentatively scheduled for Friday night, July 13 to Monday morning, July 16. The weekend work is weather dependent which means rain could postpone the closures.

The bottom line: Expect regional traffic backups 8 p.m. Friday, June 1 to 5 a.m. Monday, June 4. So if your quest for fun involves a trip on northbound I-5 through Seattle (or really anywhere in the greater Puget Sound region), you’re going to need to plan for major region-wide travel delays, WSDOT said.

This is a major closure that will affect people who use northbound I-5 and beyond. “Let’s think about the ripple effect: Some will decide to wade through the backups, but others will use alternate routes,” WSDOT said. “Enter state routes 18, 99, 167, 509, 599, 520 and I-405 and I-90. During our May 18-21 partial closure of northbound I-5, we saw backups of 7 miles or more on both I-5 and I-405. City streets also see significant congestion as folks try to sneak around the backups.”

The more people who carpool, use transit or delay discretionary trips, the more manageable the backups and delays will be,” WSDOT said.

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