Broch Bender, WSDOT communications, 206-440-4699
SEATTLE – Weekend work repairing three Interstate 5 expansion joints that were too old to maintain wrapped up at 3:30 a.m., one hour earlier than planned, on Monday, Sept. 16. Drivers in Seattle did their part to minimize weekend travel delays by paying attention to the @wsdot_traffic Twitter feed, and planning ahead.
Starting at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation narrowed northbound I-5 down to two open lanes between Olive Way and Lakeview Boulevard. On Saturday and Sunday, WSDOT bridge maintenance crews extended the two-lane construction closure across the Ship Canal Bridge for routine deck repair work.
“Add the northbound I-5 construction to the full closure of State Route 520, and sprinkle in several large events last weekend, and you have the formula for regional gridlock,” said WSDOT Northwest Regional Administrator Lorena Eng. “Outside of Saturday afternoon, that didn’t happen, thanks to Seattle area drivers who stayed plugged in, and planned ahead.
Drivers saw the heaviest traffic through the area on Saturday, Sept. 14, between 1 and 3 p.m. when a three-mile backup from Interstate 90 to Mercer Street took about an hour to slog through.
Northbound traffic flowed smoothly through downtown Seattle on Sunday. Because the I-5 express lanes were open in the northbound direction all weekend scattered backups were seen throughout the day on southbound I-5 from the Ship Canal Bridge to the West Seattle interchange.
Expansion joints (pdf 936kb) allow the highway to move and flex while maintaining a smooth driving surface. “We’ve been replacing aging expansion joints on Seattle area highways since 2007, as funding allows,” said Lorena Eng. “The work this past weekend on northbound I-5 is part of a two-phase project to replace expansion joints and repair ramps on I-5.”
Phase one is on track to finish up by the end of the month with one more weekend closure at the I-5/Spokane Street interchange. In January 2014, crews will begin work on phase two, replacing a set of highway-wide expansion joints on I-5 approaching I-90.