SEATTLE – Culvert excavation, concrete replacement and pavement preservation all take center stage as the summer road construction season kicks into high gear. The Washington state and Seattle departments of transportation recommend drivers begin planning ahead now for what promises to be a summer full of weeknight and weekend closures.
This summer, WSDOT will undertake more than a dozen projects on major commute and freight corridors in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area. Although most construction work will occur overnight when fewer people are on the roads, around-the-clock weekend closures are unavoidable.
Between July and October, weekend closures will be needed on many of the projects including major north/south routes such as Interstate 5 and I-405, State Route 99 and SR 167 as well as major east/west routes including SR 16, SR 18 and SR 520. In addition, SDOT will continue work to widen and improve the Mercer Street corridor.
“This is vital maintenance and preservation on aging infrastructure that has seen better days,” said Northwest Region Administrator Lorena Eng. “We’ll get rid of a horribly bumpy ride on northbound I-405 through Bellevue, we’ll replace failing freeway expansion joints on I-5 near Seattle, replace an old timber bridge over Spokane Street and perform the annual inspection of the SR 520 floating bridge.”
While shutting down a highway for a weekend is inconvenient for drivers, it allows construction crews to complete large and time consuming amounts of work that cannot be completed during shorter nighttime closures. Examples of this work include pouring new concrete panels, which need time to cure or demolishing an out-of-date highway overpass.
Weekend closures start in July
First out of the gate is SDOT’s Mercer West project, which will close both directions of SR 99 approaching the Battery Street Tunnel and eastbound Mercer Street from late evening July 5 to early morning July 8, to demolish a portion of the SR 99 bridge over Mercer.
The following weekend, July 13 and 14, WSDOT will close both directions of SR 520 and northbound I-405 through Bellevue, as well as reroute westbound traffic on the SR 16 Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
During these closures, bridge crews will perform the required yearly inspection of the SR 520 floating bridge, begin installing a fish-friendly culvert under the highway and replace hundreds of failing concrete panels on I-405 between S.E. 8th Street and SR 520. Crews on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge will work to replace several aging expansion joints.
“This roadway work is critical for maintaining and upgrading our region’s streets and bridges,” said Seattle Department of Transportation Director Peter Hahn. “We ask for drivers’ patience during these projects, especially with multiple Seattle area road closures upcoming this summer.”
WSDOT and cities are doing everything possible to keep traffic moving
WSDOT has worked closely with the cities of Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma to coordinate the closures and avoid weekends with large events such as the Bellevue Arts Festival, Seafair, Bite of Seattle and Out in the Park.
Drivers urged to stay engaged to keep traffic moving
“We need drivers help to keep traffic moving this summer by paying attention to local media and planning their weekend trips ahead of time,” said WSDOT traffic engineer Mark Bandy. “Those who take five or 10 minutes in the week to plan their route could save a lot of time and frustration.”
Drivers should consider alternatives to their normal commute, including:
• Carpooling, vanpooling riding the bus, water taxi, train or light rail.
• Working from home or adjusting work schedules.
• Checking traffic conditions before hitting the roads.
• Using alternate routes where possible.
• Delaying or combining trips.
A full list of projects requiring night and weekend highway closures can be found on WSDOT’s 2013 construction season website.
WSDOT offers multiple tools to help drivers plan and navigate closures and traffic. These tools can be found on the What’s Happening Now website.