More new concrete. More expansion joint replacements. More weekend traffic backups. People who drive can expect all of these on northbound Interstate 5 in Seattle as the Revive I-5 project shifts from nights to a weekend-long lane reduction, Aug. 11-12.
Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will begin northbound lane reductions at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, near the Swift/Albro off-ramp. All lanes will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13. The work also requires the express lanes to close for the weekend in both directions.
Two lanes of northbound I-5 will remain open throughout the weekend, unlike weekends in June and July when all lanes were closed for a short distance. With northbound I-5 reduced to two lanes, drivers throughout the region should prepare for heavy traffic.
“In our past experience when we had lanes reduced, not as many people tried to find other ways to get around and we saw huge backups,” said WSDOT Traffic Engineer Mike Swires. “In contrast, during the full northbound closures a lot of people chose alternative routes and light rail, which reduced congestion. If drivers can do that again, we’ll still see backups, but they’ll be smaller.”
Work to rehabilitate northbound I-5 takes place on more than 7.5 miles of the interstate, between the West Seattle Bridge and State Route 520. The work includes:
- Tearing out and repaving 2,000 feet of two northbound I-5 lanes between Edgar Martinez Drive and the northbound express lanes entrance.
- Replacing portions of 11 expansion joints.
- Replacing a full expansion joint in the express lanes.
All work is weather-dependent.
While the contractor crews are busy paving and replacing expansion joints, WSDOT maintenance crews will repair pavement on the northbound I-5 Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge. This will take place between 2 a.m. and noon on Saturday, Aug. 11, and Sunday, Aug. 12.
Combining the maintenance work with a major project limits the effect on people who travel because the biggest backups occur as lanes are reduced.
Know before you go
People who travel during the weekend should plan ahead and expect delays. To limit congestion, people should:
- Use transit, particularly light rail.
- Postpone discretionary trips. Fewer trips means fewer cars and less backup.
- Travel before 8 a.m., when traffic volume picks up, or after 8 p.m., when it decreases.
More weekends remain
Two weekend-long lane reductions remain for this project, along with more than a year of nighttime work. The next scheduled weekend is Sept. 15-16. The final weekend has yet to be scheduled.