After 50 years as the region’s main north-south route, Interstate 5 is about to get a much-needed facelift between Kent and Seattle. The Washington State Department of Transportation is starting one of its most ambitious interstate restoration projects, renewing nearly 22 miles of northbound I-5 in the next three years.
More than 200,000 vehicles use the interstate daily – that’s 73 million families, commuters and freight carriers each year that rely on I-5. After five decades of use expansion joints are wearing out, concrete panels are broken and other sections of the highway have deep ruts.
“We’ve been maintaining I-5 for more than 50 years, but it’s time for major preservation work so the interstate can continue to serve our region for decades to come,” said WSDOT Northwest Regional Administrator Lorena Eng.
The work is actually two separate projects. When the first starts Monday, April 17, in south King County, contractor crews working for WSDOT will restore northbound I-5 between South 260th Street in Kent and the Duwamish River in Tukwila.
Later this year, contractor crews will start work on northbound I-5 between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Northeast Ravenna Boulevard in Seattle.
Most of the work will take place at night, but drivers can expect weekend-long lane closures on northbound I-5 for as many as 26 weekends. Much of that weekend work will take place during the next two to three summers. Dates have yet to be scheduled.
The work is scheduled be complete in 2019.
South 260th Street to Duwamish River
Contractor crews from Gary Merlino Construction will complete northbound I-5 work similar to what has been done on southbound I-5 between the Duwamish River and Federal Way. To finish 8.9 miles of northbound rehabilitation by fall 2018, they will:
- Replace eight expansion joints – four at Interurban Avenue and four on the Duwamish River Bridge
- Repave four miles of all lanes between South 216th Street in SeaTac and South 178th Street in Tukwila
- Replace about 440 broken concrete panels
- Grind concrete sections to eliminate ruts
This project will reduce northbound I-5 to two lanes on 10 weekends – four to replace the expansion joints and six to repave between South 216th and South 178th streets.
Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Northeast Ravenna Boulevard
Much of this 13-mile section of northbound I-5 is elevated freeway, with expansion joints connecting concrete highway sections. By late 2019, contractor crews will:
- Replace 37 expansion joints
- Replace all concrete panels from near the West Seattle Bridge to near the express lanes ramp, except for bridges
- Replace hundreds of broken concrete panels
- Grind concrete sections to remove ruts
- Replace four bridge approach slabs on three bridges
- Repave 24 on- and off-ramps
During 2017, work on this project will take place at night. In 2018 to 2019, contractor crews also will work at night, but could require up to 16 weekends of northbound I-5 lane closures.