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I-90 - WB East Channel Bridge Expansion Joint Repair

Countdown to Construction

Project map of the work area and location.
Click to view larger version of project map.

An image of the new expansion joints for the westbound I-90 East Channel Bridge near Mercer Island.The new expansion joints for the bridge are ready and waiting to be installed. The two expansion joints are so large, each arrives in two pieces and will be welded together on site. Each expansion joint is a combined 82 feet in length (plus another ten foot joint over the pedestrian/cyclist path) and each weighs 25,887 pounds. 

See more pictures of the expansion joints.


one of two damaged expansion joints on WB I-90. Crews will replace two joints like this one on the I-90 East Channel Bridge between Mercer Island and Bellevue.


A damaged expansion joint on westbound I-90 East Channel Bridge.
Permanently replacing the joints will lessen the chance for unexpected emergency repairs.

Status

July 2014

  • DRIVER ALERT: All lanes of westbound I-90 between I-405 and East Mercer Way are OPEN, along with all associated ramps. WSDOT thanks commuters for altering their schedules, taking carpools, vanpools, buses, bikes and telecommuting during this time.
  • Replacement of the expansion joints under the cyclist/pedestrian path is now scheduled to begin Monday, July 28. Work will occur weeknights from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. All users will be stopped prior to the work zone and they will either be escorted through the area or a flagger will give them permission to proceed. Delays should be five minutes or less.
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Overview

In July 2014, crews will replace two worn out expansion joints and repair a damaged support beam on the westbound Interstate 90 East Channel Bridge over Lake Washington. Thousands of commuters, freight haulers and travelers heading to Seattle from Bellevue use this bridge every day. The project helps keep this heavily relied upon route in good working order.

Replacing the expansion joints will help keep drivers safe by eliminating the ongoing need for emergency repairs and preserve the expected life of the bridge. The expansion joints will be replaced one-half at a time.

What can drivers expect? 

Drivers can expect nightly lane and ramp closures as the contractor crews prepare the bridge for the full expansion joint replacement work. The actual replacement work will take place in two stages over seven days. It will require around-the-clock closures of multiple lanes of westbound I-90 and closures of either general purpose or HOV ramps from Bellevue Way S.E. and I-405 to westbound I-90. 

Stage one:

  • The three left lanes of westbound I-90 on the East Channel Bridge closed from 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 18 to 5 a.m. Friday, July 25.
  • Westbound I-90 will narrow to one lane at approximately Bellevue Way S.E. and will widen to three lanes at the east end of the East Channel Bridge. The ramp from I-405 joins I-90 to create the second lane across the bridge. The ramp from Bellevue Way S.E. joins I-90 to create the third lane across the bridge.
  • The Bellevue Way S.E. HOV on-ramp to westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose ramp.
  • The southbound I-405 HOV ramp to westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose ramp.

Stage 2: (tentatively expected to occur by 5 a.m. Monday, July 21)

  • The three right lanes of westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock for the remainder of the seven-day continuous closure, through Friday morning.
  • Westbound I-90 will narrow to one lane at approximately Bellevue Way S.E. and will widen to three lanes at the east end of the East Channel Bridge. The ramp from I-405 joins I-90 to create the second lane across the bridge. The ramp from Bellevue Way S.E. joins I-90 to create the third lane across the bridge.
  • The Bellevue Way general purpose on-ramp to westbound I-90 will be closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the HOV ramp.
  • The southbound I-405 HOV ramp to westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose ramp.
  • The HOV lanes through the work zone will be open to all during construction and will be clearly marked.

The expansion joint on the bicycle/pedestrian path will also be replaced. During construction work, pedestrians and cyclists will be escorted through the work zone.

Why can't this work be done in weekend closures instead?

There are several reasons this work can't be done during weekend closures. First, the expansion joints are more deeply embedded in the bridge deck than other expansion joints that are commonly used on I-5. There is more concrete to chip away in order to excavate the joints. Full weekend closures generally last about 55 hours. That's not enough time to chip out the concrete, remove the old expansion joints, install the new ones, secure them in place, pour new concrete and let it cure in time for the morning commute.

Even if the work could be done with weekend closures, many other projects need full weekend closures this summer as well. That's particularly true of SR 520. Since I-90 and SR 520 cannot be closed at the same time and we must avoid holiday weekends and Seafair, the number of available weekends is limited.

When we took into account the amount of work to be done, the nature of the work and the available weekends, we determined that a seven day continuous closure of multiple lanes was the best option to get the work done safely and quickly.

Why is WSDOT replacing two expansion joints on westbound I-90 at the East Channel Bridge?

The original expansion joints were built in 1981 and have reached the end of their useful life. In 2001, WSDOT crews found water leaking into both expansion joints because of broken synthetic rubber seals. Leaking has allowed water and contaminants to flow onto the bottom of the bridge’s girders, which has led to deterioration of the concrete and steel underneath the bridge. Maintenance crews have made several emergency repairs since February 2012 to repair the steel structural elements. Over the years, weather and increasing traffic have steadily worn out both expansion joints. When the joints are worn out, we can’t predict when they may need emergency repairs and stop traffic.

Expansion joints are important to the way a bridge functions. They allow sections of bridge to expand and contract with temperature change and different traffic loads. Failing expansion joints are a safety hazard to drivers and can cause a bridge to bend, crack, or even collapse. A permanent fix can’t be put off any longer.

The End Result

Crews will replace the two 33-year old expansion joints on the westbound I-90 East Channel Bridge. The new joints are expected to last the remaining life of the bridge with minimal need for maintenance. These improvements will help to maintain the bridge’s structural integrity and improve driver safety.

Project Benefits
 
• Safety - Pavement improvements and new expansion joints improve the driving surface, which lessens the risk of vehicle damage and possible collisions caused by traffic backups.
• Maintenance – New expansion joints keep traffic moving across I-90 by helping to eliminate emergency repairs.
• Preservation - New, stronger expansion joints extend the life of the roadway.

What is the project timeline?

October, 7 2013 – Contract advertised to contractors
November 12, 2013 - Project awarded to Mowat Construction
July 2014 – Construction begins 
September 2014 – Expected completion 

Financial Information

Financial Data for PIN 109045D
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $1,676
Total $1,676

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

How can I get more information?
Contact:

Hien Trinh
WSDOT Project Engineer
206-768-5601
trinhH@wsdot.wa.gov

Kris Olsen
WSDOT Communications
206-440-4704
olsenk@wsdot.wa.gov

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