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I-5 - Seattle Bridge Repair

   WSDOT will replace expansion joints on I-5 north and south of I-90.(view larger map).

Crews move into place for emergency repairs of the expansion joint. Events like this can cause unexpected traffic backups.
On Dec. 16, 2013, crews were forced to close lanes while they made emergency repairs to an expansion joint on the southbound I-5 collector-distributor. The joint unexpectedly popped up during the morning commute.

The southbound I-5 collector distributor backs up with traffic as crews make emergency repairs to the damaged expansion joint.
Emergency repairs caused a traffic headache to morning commuters. Installing new expansion joints will lessen the risk of a traffic mess like this from happening in the future.

In December 2013, this expansion joint, located on the southbound I-5 collector-distributor, popped up without notice. The errant joint caused traffic backups while crews made emergency repairs.
Expansion joints are a danger to drivers when they are as worn out and damaged as the one pictured here. The metal parts can pop out of the pavement into the roadway.

The expansion joint pictured above no longer has a steel cover preventing rain, sediment and weeds from building up inside the joint. View Flickr set photos.

Look inside an expansion joint (view larger image 968kb PDF).


November 2014

  • This project was declared operationally complete on June 29, 2014. Operationally complete means the majority of work is finished.
  • View photos of damaged expansion joints and ramp roadway decks.

What we're doing: 
In early 2014, crews will close lanes on I-5 to replace 33 aging highway-wide expansion joints in four locations:

  • Location one: northbound I-5 south of the I-90 interchange between S. Spokane Street (West Seattle Bridge) and the S. Columbian Way on-ramp to northbound I-5.
  • Location two: Northbound and southbound I-5 north of I-90 between S. Jackson Street and James Street.
  • Location three: Northbound I-5 collector-distributor between S. Dearborn Street and James Street.
  • Location four: Southbound I-5 collector-distributor between Spring Street and S. Dearborn Street.

The Seattle Bridge Repair Project is divided into two phases of construction: 

Phase one (completed in October 2013):

  • Crews resurfaced off-ramps and replaced expansion joints at the Corson Avenue South and South Spokane Street interchanges and across northbound I-5 at Lakeview Boulevard north of downtown Seattle. Phase two begins in January 2014.  

Phase two: Jan. through early spring 2014: 

  • Crews will replace 33 expansion joints across northbound and southbound I-5 between the South Spokane Street interchange and Cherry Street. 

What will be closed during Phase two?
Construction is scheduled to begin in January and last through early spring 2014. 

Drivers should expect lane and ramp closures on northbound and southbound I-5 between the South Spokane Street interchange (West Seattle Bridge) and the Washington State Convention Center. There also will be closures on the northbound and southbound collector-distributor.

What does the I-5 collector-distributor do?
The collector-distributor (CD) runs parallel to mainline I-5. The southbound CD distributes traffic from mainline I-5 to I-90, S. Dearborn Street, Airport Way and Fourth Avenue South. The northbound CD distributes traffic from mainline I-5 to I-90, S. Dearborn Street, James and Madison streets.

Will WSDOT close I-5 to do the work?
At least one or two lanes will always remain open on northbound and southbound I-5 and the collector-distributor throughout the work zone. Crews will not close all lanes of the highway at once.

Where can I find out what's closed?
We will update the yellow status box found at the top of this page with the most current lane and ramp closure information. Drivers also can stay informed of project and region-wide construction closures by checking our weekly King County Construction Update Report found here.
Lane and ramp closures will be coordinated with other projects in the area to minimize delays as much as possible. Signed detours will be in place.


Why is WSDOT Repairing expansion joints and resurfacing off-ramps on I-5 in Seattle?
Expansion joints stretch across all lanes of the highway or bridge, linking together concrete slabs in a way that allows the roadway to bend and flex with heavy, uneven traffic and the annual freeze/thaw cycle.

The original steel expansion joints on I-5, and ramps connecting I-5 to Corson Avenue South and South Spokane Street are breaking up and allowing water and contaminates to flow onto the bottom of the girder, which is leading to the deterioration of the concrete and steel underneath the bridge.

Additionally, these expansion joints are more than 50 years old, and are failing at a high rate. Failing expansion joints can lead to collisions, emergency closures and expensive emergency repairs.

The End Result
Replacing the original, 50-year-old expansion joints with new, watertight joints will bend and flex as the concrete expands and contracts with changing traffic and weather patterns, which is expected to improve safety for drivers. 

The resurfaced ramp decks will improve safety for drivers by eliminating potholes and wheel ruts, which can cause vehicle damage and hydroplaning when it rains. 

Project Benefits

  • Safety - pavement improvements and new expansion joints improve the driving surface, which decreases vehicle damage and possible collisions caused by traffic backups.
  • Maintenance - stronger expansion joints will require less maintenance.
  • Preservation - new, stronger expansion joints extend the life of the roadway.

What is the project timeline?

  • March 2013 - Phase one was awarded to Mowatt Construction, Inc.
  • July 2013- Phase one construction begins.
  • Oct. 2013 - Phase one complete.
  • September 2013 - Phase two awarded to PCL Construction. 
  • January 2014 - Phase two construction begins.
  • July 2014 - Expected operational completion of phase two.

Financial Information

Financial Data for PIN 100516D, 100518T, 100521Z, 100562S
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $12,300
Total $12,300

Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.

How can I get more information?

Kris Olsen 
WSDOT Communications

Aleta Borschowa
WSDOT Project Engineer - Construction

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