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I-5 concrete pavement repair work starts this week in Kent and Seattle’s U-District

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Date:  Tuesday, February 05, 2013

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

SEATTLE –Interstate 5 through King County has a reputation for being bumpy, cracked, rutted and loud. Starting tonight, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will begin work on a $6.4 million project designed to smooth and repair some of the worst sections of the 50 year-old highway.

“The two worst sections of I-5 are located in Kent and the University District in Seattle,” said Lorena Eng, WSDOT regional administrator. “We have emails from drivers that compare driving on I-5 to driving on a sea of stones. This work will fix the worst of the worst until we receive the funding to begin replacing the interstate.”

Work begins at two locations this week

On Monday, Feb. 4, in South King County, crews using four-foot-wide, diamond-tipped,industrial pavement grinding machines will begin smoothing of the bumps and ruts on northbound I-5 between Military Road South and South 260th Street. Crews will work across all five lanes from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday through Thursday nights through April.

On Thursday, Feb. 7, crews in the University District will begin work to smooth and replace a basketball-court-sized swath of cracked concrete near NE 50th Street. On Friday, Feb. 8 crews begin grinding. The work will take place on long weekend nights through March. Each 12-foot lane requires crews to make several passes over the whole width of the lane. The process is similar to mowing a lawn row after row.

One or two lanes will remain open at all times. The I-5 express lanes will remain open during night work to ensure quick access for emergency vehicles.

Construction noise

Pavement preservation work is typically done during the peak summer construction season. With this noisy work, state transportation planners pushed construction out a few months to take advantage of the cooler weather, when residents can close their windows to block out some of the noise. They also consolidated the noisy work into several long weekend nights rather than dozens of weekday nights.

“Our challenge is to grind down the rutted highway while keeping neighbors happy and traffic impacts to a minimum,” said Hien Trinh, WSDOT Project Engineer.

Pavement grinding is a moving operation, which means the location and level of noise will vary from night to night in Seattle and South King County.

Residents can find localized noise and construction tracking tools on the Web:

Seattle - University District and Eastlake
• See where crews are grinding pavement in Seattle.
• Sign up to receive the Seattle Area News email update.
• Get southbound I-5 lane and ramp closure information.
• Call 206-440-4DOT (4368) for overnight construction information and free earplugs.

South King County - Kent and Federal Way

• See where crews are grinding in South King County.
• Sign up to receive the South King County email update.
• Get northbound I-5 lane and ramp closure information.
• Call 206-440-4DOT (4368) for overnight construction information and free earplugs.


Interstate 5 in King County was built in the early 1960s, and engineered to last through the 1990s. Large cracks, potholes, and uneven pavement are tell-tale signs of the highway’s decay. Smoothing out wheel ruts and removing bumps will bring relief to drivers, who tell us “driving on I-5 in King County is like driving on stones.”


Last fall, contractors working for the state ripped out and replaced nearly a quarter-mile of broken concrete in Federal Way and Kent. In 2009, crews ground down seven miles of rutted and cracked pavement from Seattle to Shoreline. Drivers said they noticed a smoother and quieter after we were done.

More information about I-5 pavement repair can be found here:
I-5 Pavement Repair Kent/ Federal Way Project
I-5 Pavement Repair University District
I-5 pavement repair Reconstruction Projects in King County


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