Thursday, April 21, 2022

Using northbound I-5 in Seattle late weeknights? Plan ahead for some changes through early May

By Tom Pearce

We’re making progress on our northbound I-5 Seneca Street to SR 520 project, but progress always seems to bring change. For people who use the freeway northbound in downtown Seattle overnight for the next couple weeks, we’ll have several changes.

Regular nighttime travelers are used to being shifted into the collector/distributor for our project to improve traffic through downtown Seattle. Starting at 9 p.m. Monday, April 25, we’re adding three ramp closures:

  • The Dearborn Street on-ramp to the collector/distributor
  • The James Street off-ramp
  • The Olive Way off-ramp

We’ll have everything open by 5 a.m. for the morning commute.

The nightly closures are scheduled to continue through Friday morning, April 28, then we’ll do it all again the following week from Monday night, May 2 to Thursday morning, May 5.

In addition to these multi-night closures, the on-ramp from University Street to northbound I-5 will be closed from 9 p.m. Monday, April 25 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, April 26 only.

These closures mean changes for people going into downtown Seattle or onto I-5 on these nights:

  • Going into downtown Seattle, people will need to use the off-ramps to either Dearborn Street or Madison Street.
  • I-5, people will need to use Fourth Avenue and the northbound I-5 on-ramp from eastbound I-90 or the Cherry Street on-ramp.

The big picture

All this work is part of a project to create a third through-lane on northbound I-5 near Seneca Street. Currently the northbound freeway has just two through-lanes in this area, which frequently creates a bottleneck. Right now our contractor is moving concrete barrier, which will allow us to turn the current exit-only to Seneca Street into a third through-lane with an optional exit to Seneca.

We also will add ramp meters and peak-hour auxiliary lanes to the I-5 on-ramps from the collector/distributor and Cherry Street to help smooth the traffic flow through downtown.

All this work will be complete in 2023 as we continue to make progress to improve travel throughout the region.