Friday, June 29, 2018

Revive I-5 means another full closure on northbound I-5 in Seattle July 14-15

By Tom Pearce

It’s only been a few weeks, but the Revive I-5 weekend closure at the start of June on northbound I-5 south of downtown Seattle seems like a distant memory. Well, here’s a reminder that more work is to come – we’re only about two weeks out from the second and final full closure of northbound I-5 at the West Seattle Bridge/Spokane Street/Columbian Way off-ramp.

Ramp and lane closures will begin at 8 p.m. Friday, July 13, with all northbound lanes closed at the West Seattle Bridge by 10 p.m. The closure will continue through 5 a.m. Monday, July 16. As always, this closure is weather dependent.
Ramp closures begin at Southcenter; the full closure is at
the off-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge.

Why close all lanes of northbound I-5?
We need to replace the concrete in a relatively narrow half-mile section of northbound I-5, between the West Seattle Bridge/Spokane Street/Columbian Way on- and off-ramps. The interstate is four lanes wide, with very narrow shoulders. There is simply not enough room in this section to provide a safe buffer between traffic and the work crews. The only practical solution is a total closure in that area.
During the weekend of July 14-15 crews replaced about 3,500 feet of concrete across two lanes.

What we’ll do July 14-15
We’re actually doubling our efforts out there with this closure. We’ll repave near the West Seattle Bridge and downtown, as well as replace several expansion joints.  We also need to replace an expansion joint on northbound I-5 at the Duwamish River.

We’ll begin closing ramps onto northbound I-5 at Southcenter and limit the interstate to two lanes northbound at the Duwamish River. The big squeeze begins near the Swift-Albro exit. Any remaining traffic will exit at the West Seattle Bridge/Spokane Street/Columbian Way. To help make this work, crews will:
  • Close all the northbound I-5 on-ramps between Southcenter and South Michigan Street.
  • Leave all off-ramps open between Southcenter and the West Seattle Bridge.

Traffic on northbound I-5 was fairly light most of the first weekend full closure. Alternate routes saw much heavier traffic.

How was traffic during the first northbound closure?
When we did similar work during the first full northbound closure the weekend of June 2-3, northbound I-5 actually wasn’t unbearable because drivers realized that they would have to get off at the West Seattle Bridge. That led them to use alternate routes.

We did see bigger than usual backups on alternatives like SR 99 and SR 509, and particularly on I-405 as people worked to get around the closure. By late Sunday afternoon, the I-405 backup stretched from Kennydale to I-5. The surface streets in south Seattle also were often crowded. People will need to adjust their travel plans again.

You can help control traffic
What traffic looks like during our next northbound closure weekend is largely up to you. During the June closure, 70 percent of people who usually use this section of I-5 did something else. If you use alternatives and limit your driving south of downtown Seattle, there will still be some delays throughout the SeaTac-Burien-Tukwila-Renton area. If people try to use the highway system like a regular weekend, expect horrendous backups everywhere.

There are a number of things you can do, including:

  • Use transit, particularly light rail
  • Postpone discretionary trips. Fewer trips means fewer cars and less backup.
  • Travel before 8 a.m., when traffic volume picks up, or after 8 p.m., when it decreases.
  • Plan ahead: you can get real-time traffic information about Revive I-5 on your phone with the WSDOT traffic app and by tracking #ReviveI5 on the WSDOT Traffic Twitter feed.

Hey West Seattle, you CAN get there from here
Even with the work on northbound I-5, drivers will be able to get to and from West Seattle all weekend. Everyone will exit northbound I-5 at the West Seattle Bridge off-ramp. The northbound I-5 on-ramp from the West Seattle Bridge and Columbian Way will be open all weekend. One lane of traffic from that ramp will go to the collector/distributor, where drivers can exit to I-90, James or Madison streets, or continue through the C/D to rejoin the northbound I-5 mainline.

Are we there yet?
We’re getting closer to finishing the weekend-long lane reductions. If the weather allows us to work the weekend of July 14-15, we’ll still need a couple more weekends to complete all the work that requires lane reductions.

Once the weekend-long closures are complete, the project still has a long way to go. Our contractor will continue to work nights through fall 2019. They’ll grind the concrete to eliminate ruts in the 52-year-old interstate all the way to Northeast Ravenna Avenue, pave several ramps and complete other work.

In the end, our contractor will rehabilitate about 13 miles of northbound I-5. It’s a long, tough job, but it will keep I-5 in good shape for decades to come.


Dan said...

Why are the brand new northbound lanes so bumpy and rough? We thought there was a steering issue with our car at first. Will they be repaired?

WSDOT said...

Dan, this project includes grinding sections of I-5 that weren’t repaved to eliminate ruts. As we grind those sections, we will also grind the surface of the brand new pavement to smooth it.

Donna said...

We will be arriving from Colorado at Sea-Tac on Saturday afternoon, July 14th. What is the best way to go North to Bellevue from the airport?

hadi said...

There’s a gaps in between the concretes walls on the left side of freeway i 5 after the Michigan st exit those gaps makes a lot of water on right line when it is raining

Unknown said...

What is the alternative route for northbound I-5 traffic? Why is there not a map posted online showing the alternative route?

WSDOT said...

Donna, I-405 is usually the best way to get to Bellevue.

WSDOT said...

The best alternative route depends on where you’re going. If you’re headed to SoDo, SR 599/99 or SR 509 is probably best. If you’re going to downtown Seattle, SR 599/99 or SR 509 can work, or you can take I-405 north to westbound I-90. If you’re going north of Seattle, northbound I-405 is the best route.

As far as a map showing detours, that is difficult because people are going to so many different destinations.

Tom Barr said...

Lol! Love the comment, 'If drivers use the system like a normal weekend, backups will be horrific.' Its normal because that is LIFE. So stop living life to accommodate WSDOT. Really?

As if people have a CHOICE???? Come on WSDOT, REAL WORLD HERE. 24X7 society. We still need to function as a society.

CHANGE YOUR THINKING!!! You are unrealistic if you think the world can just stop to accommodate YOUR antiquated 9-5 M-F concept.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Michael Dunn said...

Tom, you're writing as though there is an alternative. The whole road has to be closed in order to a) perform the maintenance and b) not put workers in danger. When else would you suggest they do this work? The work needs to be done, and there's less traffic on weekends, so that's when it gets done. You can either adjust your plans, or you sit in awful backups. Your call.

Unknown said...

Hello. We are first time visitors to the area and will be flying out of SeaTac on July 14 and need to be at the airport by 3:00 PM. We will be driving N from Olympia and have a rental car to turn in so alternate transportation is not possible. We would greatly appreciate suggestions with specific details such as exits and time allowances on how to best accomplish this, given past experience. Thank you so much. It’s been a wonderful visit to a beautiful area.

WSDOT said...

For people traveling on north I-5 to SeaTac International Airport the weekend of July 14-15, the northbound I-5 off-ramp to SR 518 (exit 154A, the main route to the airport) will remain open all weekend. If drivers want an alternative, take exit 152 off northbound I-5 and go west on South 188th Street, then north on SR 99/International Boulevard. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you might want to allow an extra 30 to 45 minutes; it’s always better to be a bit early than a bit late.

As long as we’re talking airport traffic, for those leaving SeaTac airport, if you’re going into downtown Seattle, your best bet is probably to go west on SR 518 to SR 509, then go north on 509. SR 509 connects with SR 99 in south Seattle and will take you to downtown.

If you’re going north of downtown Seattle from SeaTac, northbound I-405 is probably your better choice. If you’re going to the North Seattle/Shoreline area, from I-405 you can take either I-90 or SR 520 back across Lake Washington to I-5. If you’re going to Lynnwood or points north, you can continue north on 405 to where it rejoins I-5 in Lynnwood.

Sarah said...

Why is the Sounder train not running when these closures happen? It runs for Mariners games.

Unknown said...

WSDOT, Dan specifically mentioned NEW sections being bumpy. I too noticed some of the new work is rougher than what it replaced.

John said...

Stay in Tacoma

WSDOT said...

Sound Transit makes the decision when to operate special Sounder service.

WSDOT said...

We plan to go back and grind a thin layer to smooth out the surface once paving is finished.

Unknown said...

Will will be able to use 99 N from the West Seattle Bridge?

WSDOT said...

People will be able to use the regular ramp from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge to northbound SR 99.

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