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WSDOT taking bridge ‘down to bare metal’ with SB I-5 closure in Arlington

The paint on the 88 year old Stilliguamish River Bridge is in need of serious attention. (WSDOT

A five-month closure of the southbound I-5 bridge over the Stillaguamish River begins this week in Arlington.

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How long does it take to give an 88-year-old a good makeover?  If you’re a steel truss bridge, the answer is about five months.

The southbound I-5 bridge in Arlington is going to be closed for about five months. The closure is expected to happen shortly after midnight early Wednesday morning. The 607-foot bridge needs a serious paint job. It’s the paint that helps preserve the steel.

“We’re going to be removing the old paint, taking the entire bridge back down to the very bare metal and then re-applying paint on all those exposed areas and making sure that we’re protecting and preserving this bridge for years to come,” said Jordan Longacre with the Washington Department of Transportation.

The plan is to wrap the bridge first to prevent any debris from getting into the river below.

“Everything that is taken off the bridge is then captured in this containment system and then hauled away and disposed of properly,” Longacre said.

Starting Wednesday morning, all southbound drivers are going to be diverted into the northbound lanes over the river. If you’ve lived here awhile, you might remember doing this crossover in 2014 when the southbound bridge deck was replaced. There is a large strip of concrete in the median of the freeway on either side of the bridge to accommodate the transition.

“Thankfully, we’re able to rely on some of the things that were already put in place for the previous cross-over, and we’re hoping that drivers are able to navigate that just as easily as they did before,” Longacre said.

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The transition will likely catch some drivers by surprise early Wednesday, but Longacre doesn’t expect too much of an issue.

“We have barriers and barrels and striping all in place that drivers will see, even before they approach the bridge,” he said.

Two lanes in each direction will be open during the five month closure. The lanes will be reduced in width, from 12 feet to 11 feet. The speed limit in the area will also be reduced to 55 miles per hour.

Drivers need to plan for extra congestion, especially over the summer weekends.

“We want to make sure that we really bring this bridge back to its original state, and that we’re able to preserve it,” Longacre said. “The way to do that is to take the time needed to do it.”

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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