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Thursday, December 27, 2012
Jamie Holter, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4698
Visit: Puget Sound 2013 construction
SEATTLE – Put away that Santa hat and reindeer sweater. Orange construction vests and hard hats are now the fashion as the Washington State Department of Transportation kicks off a very early annual construction season.
Work crews for WSDOT begin the 2013 construction season the first weekend in January. The first major freeway closure on southbound Interstate 5 is scheduled for Jan. 4-7. This is the first of nearly 20 weekend and weekend night closures in Seattle between now and April.
“There are so many construction projects in the Seattle area, we didn’t want to add to the summer construction jam,” said Russ East, WSDOT assistant regional administrator. “We planned ahead, worked with other agencies and determined that construction in January through April was the best way to get our work done and cause fewer headaches for drivers.”
Between January and April in downtown Seattle, crews will:
- Replace 31 expansion joints on ramps linking I-5, the West Seattle Bridge and Columbian Way and one joint on northbound I-5 just south of the ramps.
- Grind and smooth out three lanes of southbound I-5 between 50th Street and Roanoke Street in the University District and add durable striping to both directions of I-5 between Northgate and Roanoke Street.
- Use concrete and Geofoam to replace the creosote-soaked timber of the old SR 99 bridge over Spokane Street just south of the West Seattle Bridge.
- Replace bridge expansion joints and repave the ramp on northbound I-5 to Spokane Street (the West Seattle Bridge) and northbound and southbound I-5 off-ramps at Corson Avenue.
Total cost for these four projects is less than $30 million.
“These aren’t high-dollar projects,” East said, “but they are important safety and preservation projects.” Left unfixed, potholes, cracking concrete and steel expansion joints that unexpectedly pop up or pop out can bring traffic through downtown Seattle to a stop.
I-5 is more than 50 years old and falling apart faster than WSDOT can repair it. Each year, WSDOT identifies areas most in need of repair and schedules critically important construction work.
“Waiting for an emergency to repair the backbone of our transportation system isn’t safe or a good use of taxpayer dollars,” East added. While crews can’t repair everything, engineers take a triage approach to I-5 through Seattle by targeting the most pressing needs. They balance repair work with daily traffic demands and other construction in the area. This year, crews will focus on high-traffic areas, such as I-5 in downtown Seattle, the West Seattle Bridge interchange and the University District.
WSDOT traffic engineers coordinated with the city of Seattle, Eastside and South Sound cities, sports teams, event planners and other project teams to avoid overlapping construction and detours. While traffic engineers have scheduled construction closures on weekends when traffic is lightest, WSDOT also depends on Puget Sound drivers to know before they go.
“We are fortunate to have such engaged drivers,” East said. “They know their route, they check the Web, they’ve downloaded our WSDOT traffic app, they’re on Twitter and they listen to traffic on the radio. We count on these drivers every time we do major work, and they rarely fail us.”
In 2013, crews will complete more than two dozen small and large construction projects in King County, from paving State Route 18 in Federal Way and I-5 in Shoreline to replacing concrete on I-405 in Bellevue and on State Route 518 near SeaTac. All that in addition to on-going SR 99 tunnel boring in Seattle, building new SR 520 floating bridge and installing I-405 express toll lanes. Crews begin projects in other counties later in the spring.
“We all have the same goal: working roads and smooth commutes,” East said.
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