If you plan to drive through downtown Seattle next weekend, note that the first of many weekend-long lane reductions on southbound Interstate 5 in Seattle will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, June 25.
That’s when the latest round of Revive I-5 work to rehabilitate the interstate starts. During the next two years, this project will require 16 weekends with lane reductions to repave and replace expansion joints between Interstate 90 and Spokane Street. That includes one weekend when all lanes of southbound I-5 will be closed.
In addition, southbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane from Friday night, July 9, to Monday morning, July 12. Other weekend dates have yet to be announced.
This is the first major work on this section of I-5 since the freeway opened in 1965. While there have been some smaller repairs to the pavement and expansion joints, it’s time to repave the 1¼ -mile section and replace about 40 expansion joints on I-5, Washington State Department of Transportation Project Engineer James Harper said.
“Most people don’t think about it, but this section of I-5 is a bridge supported by columns and has expansion joints to help the bridge adjust to changes in weather and the weight of vehicles,” Harper said. “We’ve had to do several emergency repairs on joints in this area in the middle of workdays during the past few months. Replacing these joints during planned closures will reduce the need for emergency repairs.”
Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, June 25, the mainline of southbound I-5 will close just south of the convention center, with all traffic funneling through the southbound collector/distributor lane. To make room for all the I-5 traffic in the collector/distributor lanes, the I-90 eastbound and westbound ramps to southbound I-5 will be closed until 5 a.m. Monday, June 28.
During weekends with lane closures, people who travel this section of I-5 need to plan ahead. When possible they should:
- Use alternative routes
- Use transit
- Travel before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
- Postpone trips
“We expect some delays when we close lanes on weekends, but people who travel can have a big effect on the length of the delays,” said WSDOT Traffic Engineer Mike Swires. “We understand some people can’t avoid I-5, but if those who have other choices take advantage of them, that can reduce the backups for everyone.”
If people must use I-5 during the lane reductions, they should allow extra time, Swires said.
During recent night shifts for this project, contractor crews from CA Carey already have been grinding off a thin layer of concrete on the freeway between I-90 and Spokane Street. During the first two weekend-long lane reductions crews will repave a thin layer of concrete over this section. Crews can only remove and repave a thin layer of concrete at a time to keep this bridge section strong.
This work requires dry weather and could be postponed if rain is forecast.
Work later this summer and in 2022 on this $25.7 million project will focus on expansion joints, which run across the width of the freeway. Each weekend they work, crews will replace either the left or right half of several joints at a time. It takes about 55 hours to chip out concrete and remove the old joint, then install the new one, pour the concrete and allow it cure.
The rehabilitation work will spread across two years because, to reduce large-scale congestion, work will not take place on weekends that have major sporting or other events in Seattle.