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Fixing up the joints on northbound I-5, part 2

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Date:  Monday, April 01, 2013

Contact: Broch Bender, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4699 (Shoreline)

SEATTLE – All lanes on northbound Interstate 5 in South Seattle reopened on schedule Monday morning, April 1, 2013 following a weekend of closures to replace four aging highway expansion joints. But the work isn’t over yet.

Next verse same as the first: This weekend contractor crews for the Washington State Department of Transportation will again close three of northbound I-5’s five lanes in South Seattle to finish replacing the joints.

Beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, April 5, traffic barrels will section off a three-lane work zone on northbound I-5 from the Swift Avenue South/South Albro Place off-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge/South Columbian Way interchange.

“Sunny skies, hard-working crews and cooperative drivers combined to make the first of two weekend-long closures a success,” said WSDOT project engineer Aleta Borschowa. “We’re hoping for an exact repeat for part two this weekend.”

Weekend traffic recap

Last weekend crews ripped out and replaced the west side of four worn-out expansion joints on northbound I-5. Dry weather and coordinated planning helped the team finish the first half of the work on time. Crews closed three of five lanes all weekend and reopened them at 2:30 a.m., well ahead of this morning’s commute.

Drivers did their part to keep traffic flowing. While some experienced delays, most of the traffic backups were minimal thanks to people who adjusted their travel plans. Backups on northbound I-5 last weekend stretched from two to four miles, resulting in delays of up to 45 minutes through the construction area.

“This stretch of I-5 is a notorious bottleneck heading into Seattle any time of day,” said WSDOT traffic engineer Mark Leth. “Add a beautiful, sun-filled sky and construction closures to the mix and you’re asking for delays of more than hour. That didn’t happen this weekend. We asked drivers to do their part by taking alternate routes, and they came through for us.”

Weekend lane closure details 

    Friday, April 5 – Monday, April 8
  • Up to three lanes closed on northbound I-5 between South Albro Place and South Spokane Street 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
  • Swift Avenue South on-ramp to northbound I-5 closed 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
  • Four lanes will be closed midnight to 4 a.m. Saturday and Monday to set and remove traffic barriers.
Alternate routes to Seattle
  • Northbound I-405 to westbound I-90
  • Northbound SR 599 to SR 99
Keeping traffic moving

WSDOT will do everything possible to keep traffic moving during the weekend closures:

  • I-90 express lanes will remain westbound all weekend.
  • Additional Incident Response Team vehicles will be on duty to clear incidents and stalled vehicles.
Tools for drivers

The aging expansion joints on this mile-long section of I-5 top the state’s expansion joint replacement list, according to WSDOT bridge inspectors. The joints are nearly 50 years old and have reached an age when the steel plates covering them could pop up and pose a traffic hazard.

The expansion joint replacement is part of the $4.5 million I-5: Spokane Street Special Bridge Repair project.


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