Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Plan for eight overnight closures of the northbound US 101 Hoquiam River/Riverside Bridge this June and July

By Angela Cochran

If you’re like us, you’ve been dreaming of warm days, lying on sandy shores and gazing at sparkling blue waters with an ice cold *insert beverage of choice* in hand since – let’s be honest – November. Now that summer is well on its way, you can finally make that dream come true! To make the road trip there as fun as possible, you’ll want to plan for construction along the way.

It’s no secret that travelers all over the state will see roadwork on many state routes and highways this spring and summer. One of the projects that could affect your trip to the beach is starting soon in Hoquiam. The machine rooms on the northbound US 101 Hoquiam River Bridge, known locally as the Riverside Bridge, will get repairs and upgrades.

The Riverside Bridge is on northbound US 101/Riverside Avenue.

Why we have to close the road

While not technically roadwork, we do have to close the bridge to road traffic eight times throughout the project. The good news is that the closures will take place overnight. We also are not allowing any closures on weekends. However, be aware that if you’re traveling during the week, you may see some single-lane closures during daytime that could slow you down.

The project will kick off with a left-lane closure on June 14 as our contractor, Rognlin’s Inc., will remove the railing and roof from the machine room in the west tower.

Later in the project, on July 11, we will close the right lane during the day while crews do the same work on the east machine room.

We know there will be additional single-lane closures but just aren’t sure when yet. We will post the information as soon as we get it on the real-time travel map and our app. Construction schedules are sometimes hard to nail down (pun intended) because they depend on variables like weather and material availability.

If you’re traveling at night, though, you’ll encounter another challenge when the bridge closes to traffic. The good news is we already know those dates so you can plan for the detour.

Work on the bridge will involve several overnight full closures in June and July.

Overnight bridge full closure schedule


  • 9 p.m. Thursday, June 15 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, June 16
  • 9 p.m. Monday, June 19 to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 20
  • 9 p.m. Thursday, June 22 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, June 23
  • 9 p.m. Monday, June 26 to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 27


  • 9 p.m. Thursday, July 13 to 5:30 a.m. Friday, July 14
  • 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 18 to 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 19
  • 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 to 5:30 a.m. Thursday, July 20
  • 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 25 to 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 26

Detouring around the project

We won’t leave you stranded on the east side of the Hoquiam River during the closures. A signed detour will guide you over the Simpson Avenue Bridge, which normally only allows southbound traffic. A flagger will direct northbound and southbound traffic one direction at a time over the bridge. Please be patient and safe around the flagger and other road workers.

Northbound US 101 travelers will detour via the Simpson Avenue Bridge where a flagger
will keep people moving one direction at a time.

About our machine rooms

Now that the logistics are covered, you may still be wondering what in the world a machine room is. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a room full of machines. These machines operate the equipment that moves the middle of the bridge up and down during a boat opening. There are two machine rooms on the Hoquiam River Bridge, one at the top of each tower. They look like metal boxes from a distance.

The machine rooms are located at the top of the bridge’s towers and contain
the equipment that helps operate the bridge.

Built in 1970, the bridge requires a lot of maintenance to keep it in good working order. Maintaining the machine rooms became challenging in fall 2019 when the roofs started leaking. If you live or regularly travel through Hoquiam, you may have seen some bridge closures due to equipment failure during heavy rains. We’ve made some temporary fixes along the way to keep it operating.

This work will provide a permanent fix. Crews will use a large crane to lift new walls and roofs for the towers. They will also paint the operating room and replace the door. This is a separate space that houses the controls for crews to operate the bridge. Overall, this project will help prevent future closures due to equipment failure and keep our bridge operators and maintenance crews safe.

Keeping our crews and all users of the roadways safe is very important to us, and you can help with that. Please pack your patience along with your sunscreen and beach gear. Slow down and pay attention when passing through work zones. Don’t worry, the beach will still be fun even if it takes a little longer to get there.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Why there will probably be roadwork during the event you’re going to this summer

By Mike Allende

It’s our most common question during the busy summer construction season: “Why did you have to do this work when (Fill in the blank MAJOR EVENT!!!) was happening??!!!”

Fair question, with a pretty easy, basic answer. There are ALWAYS major events happening in the summer. It’s virtually impossible to find a weekend – heck, even a day – when there isn’t a game, concert, festival or event going on. It’s one of the things that makes our state a great place to live or visit, but it also makes doing road work and getting around challenging.

With 116 projects scheduled this summer – not counting day-to-day maintenance, emergencies and local city and county projects – there is a lot to get done in a short timeframe. You can learn more about what to expect in this blog.

Much of the work that you see happen in the summer can only happen when we have reliably dry weather, as we need those conditions to do extensive work with concrete. That’s a pretty small window in this part of the country in which to try to squeeze a lot of work in. It also happens to coincide when almost every professional sports team is active, when we get a huge influx of concerts and when we have major events and festivals like Seafair, Fourth of July, Bumbershoot and many more. That’s not to mention the hundreds of smaller events scattered throughout the season.

With many major events – highlighted by the Major League Baseball All Star Game at T-Mobile Park in July – roads will be packed with people trying to get around.

Of the 153 days between May 1 and Sept. 30 – what we’ll consider the prime construction season – there are just 23 days with no major events happening, and only one weekend day with nothing going on. Again, these are just major events, not counting the many parades, community festivals and other events that, for their particular area, also bring in plenty of traffic.

This also isn’t taking into account October, when we’re often trying to squeeze in some final work when we can at the same time the Seahawks, Huskies and Cougars are playing football, and the Kraken, Storm, Sounders and hopefully Mariners are also playing.

Here is a look at the special events calendars for our state from June through September to give you an idea of why it’s nearly impossible to avoid events. These are through mid-May, so other concerts and events may be announced as we move through spring and summer.

While we try to avoid special events when we can, realistically, it’s pretty impossible to do so and still finish all of the work that has to get done in this short time frame. There isn’t enough time simply working overnight for large areas of concrete to set and be ready to open by the next day. We all go to the games, shows and events just like everyone else, and we face the same travel challenges. If there were ways to avoid it, we would.

So, knowing that there will absolutely be disruptions to your travel, especially on weekends, what can you do to prepare for it?

  • Know what’s happening. We try to full-court press information, especially for busy weekends, so that people at least know what they have to prepare for. From social media, to updating our website and app, to working with local media to get word out, we have lots of ways for people to know what’s happening. Check out this webpage where you can find info about our app, social media tools and other ways to stay engaged (scroll to the bottom and you can also find a link to sign up for email/text alerts).
  • Familiarize yourself with transit. Whether it’s buses, bicycling, Link Light Rail, the Sounder train, Amtrak Cascades, even organizing carpools, there are lots of alternative ways to get around. One great thing to keep in mind for people going to Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle: Every ticket to an event at the venue is also a transit pass.
  • Consider signing up for a Good To Go! It’s handy if you’ll use the SR 520 bridge or the SR 99 tunnel into/out of Seattle, or I-405 to avoid heavy I-5 traffic, or possibly SR 167 to go to the Puyallup Fair or White River Amphitheater, or of course the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Having a Good To Go! pass will also save you money and ensure you pay the lowest toll rate on all these roads. You can sign up or get more information on our website.
  • Be prepared. It could be slow-going, so be sure your vehicle has enough gas, is in good working order, you have drinks/snacks, warm clothes/blanket (just in case!) and any other supplies you might need if you get stuck for a long time.
Roadwork will affect most parts of the state this summer, whether it’s getting to
events in Seattle or concerts at the Gorge.

As we’ve said, we know added delays getting to big events or summer trips isn’t fun. We’re working to minimize the effects where we can but thank you for also doing your part in helping keep everyone moving this summer.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Changing the look of I-5 in downtown Seattle

Tony Black

Over a 48-hour period, the look of Interstate5 in downtown Seattle changed for the first time in almost 50 years.

A new flyover ramp, connecting State Route 520 directly to the I-5 express lanes, is taking shape. Crews set the foundation for that ramp – steel girders – over the May 19-21 weekend.

A before-and-after look at the steel girders placed over northbound I-5
and the express lanes in Seattle

The process itself is far from simple, and normally could take at least two full weekend closures of northbound I-5 to do. But with a busy construction season ahead, we wanted to minimize the disruption the best we could.

Together – the work and messaging – was a great example of teamwork between the public, our contractor Walsh and us. For that we thank you.

This wasn’t a “traditional” weekend closure as we worked with our contractor to stagger the closure times, leading to lots of questions. A Twitter thread
helped answer those questions.

What happened

Over the May 19-21 weekend, our contractor set and assembled 15 very large steel girders. The girders are 75-100 feet long, 5-feet-5 inches tall and weigh about 36,000 pounds.

They used two cranes to lift them and set them on the concrete piers and crossbeams you’ve seen sitting between northbound I-5 and the express lanes for a few months now.

The steel girders arrived by truckload in the days leading up to and during the closure.

This was no easy task, and at one point a lightning storm stopped all work. Crews needed to not only set the girders but bolt them down so we could safely reopen the lanes below for traffic.

In all, it involved two crews of 25 construction workers from Walsh, working alongside our inspectors and traffic operations over four shifts to pull this off. The result was a new bridge in one weekend, and northbound I-5 was closed for only 15 hours late Friday night into Saturday afternoon.

As the cranes position the girders, crews prepared to tighten them into the concrete piers.

Why steel?

We used steel girders because it would enhance the support of the type of traffic that will use this ramp, primarily transit and HOV carpools. The combination of curve of the road and length of the spans also made using steel the best option.

Two cranes lifted the pre-assembled steel girders into position.

What’s next?

Setting the girders is a significant milestone for our project and we are now entering what I call the “sweet spot” of this project.

In addition to building the new flyover ramp this year:

The westbound SR 520 off-ramp to East Roanoke Street is fully closed until 9 p.m. on June 17. This is so we can finish building a new retaining wall and then ultimately shift the Roanoke and northbound I-5 ramps to the north.

We have some more work to do on Mercer Street too and you can expect some lane and possible weekend closures there as well.

This project is still on track for a spring 2024 completion.

The final girders were set late Sunday night as crews finished the work in just 48 hours.

A final thank you

Just once more I want to thank everyone – you, the public, our contractor Walsh, and their partners for making this happen.

Spring/summer is always a busy time of year for construction, and we really need everyone’s help to keep things smooth and moving.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Here comes the sun – and a LOT of summer construction

By Barbara LaBoe

There’s no way to sugarcoat this – there’s going to be a LOT of road construction the next few summers.

From paving to bridge repairs to creating better routes for fish in area waterways, you’ll see lots of crews working this summer on and near state highways, and that means closures, delays or congestion. The good news is once the work is done our state will have safer and more accessible transportation systems and improved environmental habitats. The not-so-good-news, at least for the next few years, is that we’ll all share some short-term pain for that long-term gain. And we do mean all – there is work stretched all over the state the next few years which means your regular detours or shortcuts around major routes may have work as well.

We’ll be seeing a lot more construction projects this summer like this one in Spokane from a few years ago. We need everyone to stay informed and plan ahead for added congestion and delays.

We have construction every summer of course, but for the next few years it will be more than usual. And that’s not counting the many local city and county projects also planned and underway. We’re likening it to renovating several rooms in your house at once – while also getting a new roof installed. No matter how well things are planned, it’s going to be disruptive and the sheer amount of work means we won’t always be able to schedule around other projects or major events.

That’s why it’s going to be key for everyone to work together to keep people and goods moving these next few summers. We’ll work to minimize delays where we can, but with this amount of work we’re going to need travelers helping out too.

Tools, tips and other ways to help keep everyone moving

We can’t make construction go away, but we can offer you the information and tools to plan ahead and make the best decisions for you and your circumstances.

Can you go to the store earlier in the morning or later in the day when vacation travelers aren’t on the roads, for example? If so, you help decrease the congestion for everyone who can’t alter their travel plans (and earn some good karma as well).

It’s going to be a busy summer with 116 projects planned on and near state highways, not including other regular maintenance or emergency repairs. This is going to mean a lot of adjustments as people travel across the state. Details on the work noted on the map can be found on our Flickr page.

Here are some other suggestions to help keep everyone moving:

  • Stay informed – there will lots of projects and some details may change – so staying up to date as you plan your travel and before you head out the door will be key.
  • Look into other travel options when possible.
  • Use transit – and keep in mind more people may be using these options so they may be more full than usual.
  • Carpool
  • If you can’t delay your travel, give yourself plenty of extra time to reach your destination.
  • Pre-program vehicle radios to 530 AM and 1610 AM for highway advisory radio alerts – and be alert for other stations listed on notice signs in some areas.
  • Carry extra food and water as an added precaution for emergencies or unexpected stops.
  • Stay calm. Delays are frustrating, but no meeting or event is worth risking injury or death. Please heed all closure or detour directions, they’re there for your safety.

We also have many tools to help you stay informed both before you go and while traveling:

The sun’s finally come out – why do this work now?

We get it. Construction delays or closures are frustrating whether you’re just trying to get from A to B, attend a special event or enjoy a summer drive. We drive these same roads and get caught in the same delays.

So why don’t we delay the work? A couple of reasons.

First, the weather that we all enjoy on summer road trips is the same we need for roadwork: consistent dry weather to allow concrete to fully cure. Anyone who lives here knows we can’t count on that in spring or fall, so summer is when most of our work is done. Any work involving waterways also has additional strict restrictions on when work can take place – water windows – to minimize stress on aquatic life, so we can’t delay or reschedule that work around other summer construction.

In addition, many of our projects are done in stages either due to how funding is allocated by the state Legislature or because initial work – a temporary bridge span, for example – must be completed before the next phase can begin. Delaying work for a month or season can create a cascade of delays or issues later on – especially as we race the clock for predictable dry weather.

Some of our funding also requires work be done in specific time frames – so delay risks the entire project having to be scrapped. Much of the work we do has often been advocated for by residents and community leaders – sometimes for years – so we don’t want to risk jeopardizing any of these projects now that funding is available.

Stay calm, stay safe

While the amount of work – and congestion and delays – is daunting, past experience has shown that when everyone works together, we can ease some of the construction disruption.

When we’ve had to close sections of Interstate 5 in recent summers or the closures just before the opening of the State Route 99 tunnel, travelers used information and tools and altered their routes to help reduce overall traffic. We’ll need this kind of effort again throughout the summer, which is why staying informed will be so important to keeping everyone moving.

Please keep road workers – and everyone else on the roads – safe this summer.
We want everyone to make it home safely.

We also ask you stay alert in the many work zones you’ll encounter – the workers there are improving roads and keeping you safe. Please help ensure their safety as well by following all directions and speed limit postings.

Again, we know delays or closures are frustrating but we also must make these repairs and improvements to our transportation system. So we’re asking for everyone’s patience as these projects get underway. Thank you in advance for your understanding and flexibility.