Today's motorists can see cracks and feel wheel ruts in the road that decrease traction during wet weather.
Final pavement preparation work for I-5 James St. to Olive Way Pavement Rehabilitation project that was completed in 2005.
How Bad is the Pavement Problem?
I-5 was built in stages between 1962 and 1967 with an expectation that the pavement would last 20 years. Remarkably, it has lasted over 40 years and will be over 50+ years old by the time it is completely replaced through a series of projects over many years.
An analysis of the I-5 pavement determined that 50 percent of it is past due for replacement or will need to be replaced in the next five years; another 40 percent should be replaced in the next ten years and the final 10 percent should be replaced in the next 10-15 years.
Simply laying asphalt on top of the existing concrete isn’t enough because of high traffic volumes and numerous bridges. We are looking at removing the existing nine-inch thick pavement on the freeway and replacing it with thirteen inches of pavement reinforced with steel bars at the joints. The thicker concrete would ensure at least another 40 years of service, and the bars would help the roadway behave like a single unit rather than individual concrete panels. This would minimize the rough "thump, thump, thump" motorists now hear and feel as they drive on I-5 through Seattle.
A key part of the project is to keep 250,000 vehicles moving during pavement reconstruction with as minimal a disruption as possible.
What projects are currently funded
to improve I-5?
The Legislature provided $134 million to begin to replace the deteriorating pavement on I-5.
Of an estimated $2 billion needed to replace the pavement, $113 million will be available to work on some of the worst areas. This work will require extensive lane closures but will extend the life of I-5 for another 40 years. Work is anticipated for 2017 and beyond, but must be planned now to coordinate with other major construction projects, such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project, SR 519 and Sound Transit North Link Light Rail.