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Seattle to have busy construction summer ahead in Montlake

Seattle's Montlake Bridge. (WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

We hope you’re ready for the upcoming month-long closure of the Montlake Bridge. When we first warned you about the closure, we told you the state was going to be doing other work at the same time.

Expect occasional closures as SB ‘Revive I-5’ in Seattle starts this week

The Montlake Bridge will be closed from just after Seafair to Labor Day, spanning nearly the entire month of August and change. The state is replacing all 84 metal grid deck panels on the 96-year-old bridge.

While that work is going on, the state will take advantage of the lane restrictions and closures to get some other work done, which would have required another series of closures. The contractor will use this time to dig under the old gas station that was next to the Montlake Market.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Steve Peer said four underground tanks leaked during their 70 years in operation.

“Over the years, there were some spills, and there are some underground gas tanks that leaked,” he said. “When we explored, we realized we have to remove some soil here to make sure that it’s presentable for the next owner.”

The state plans to sell the land after the Montlake Lid project is done. Peer said the contaminated soil leeched all the way under Montlake Boulevard.

“We need to remove somewhere between 10 and 15 tons of soil that’s contaminated,” Peer said. “We’ll be digging soil, chasing the oil, making sure that we get it cleaned up, and that’s a perfect time to do it.”

The cleanup will cost between $3.5 million and $5 million, which the state plans to recoup from the original owners.

The contractor will also use the August closure to make significant gains on the Montlake Lid project itself. It’s about 60% paved right now, after workers installed 114 girders over the freeway earlier this year. By the end of August or close to Labor Day, Montlake Boulevard will move to the east onto the new lid.

That will give contractors space to demolish the old Montlake Boulevard overpass of 520, which will then be rebuilt as part of the new lid. The entire Montlake part of this project is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

WSDOT to tackle I-5 where expansion joints failed

As all of that work is going on, the state is about to begin construction of a new reversible HOV lane between 520 and the I-5 Express Lanes, having just awarded the contract last week.

“That reversible HOV lane will work in concert with the I-5 Express Lanes,” Peer said.

In the morning, westbound 520 will connect to the express lanes, and the opposite will happen in the afternoon.

Peer said the reversible lane will only be open to buses until the Portage Bay piece of the 520 expansion is complete in about nine years. After that, all HOV users will be able to use those reversible lanes. This HOV connection should also open in 2023.

You read that right: Another nine years before the 520 project will officially be complete.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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