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On Dec 12, 2006 a section of an expansion joint on northbound I-5 near the I-90 interchange broke off the bridge deck. Crews closed two right lanes at 11:30 a.m. to complete the emergency repair.Broken expansion joints leave major gaps in freeway Over 40 years, constant traffic on this busy section of I-5 has weakened the steel joints connecting the concrete spans that make up the freeway. The top steel plates of these joints are detaching more and more frequently. The upper plate covers the large gaps between bridge spans which allow room for the concrete spans to expand and contract in hot or cold weather.Repairs require major effortWhen an expansion joint fails, crews must make emergency repairs in the middle of the freeway and close several lanes at a time. These repairs are costly, disruptive and put drivers and WSDOT crews at risk.Plates must be replacedCrews were able to weld in this new piece of steel to replace the missing section. When WSDOT replaces the northbound I-5 expansion joints this August, there will no longer be steel on the surface of the bridge, creating a smoother, safer ride for drivers.Bolts are replacedCrews also replaced the bolts on this damaged expansion joint. The 2-foot-long bolts can also be a danger to drivers when they pop up and onto the surface of the road.Last piece of the puzzleCrews weld the bolts into place, hoping to prevent them from popping up.