CHOKEPOINTS

Reversible lane between SR 520 and I-5 under construction

Jan 18, 2022, 5:44 AM | Updated: 5:46 am
reversible lane, 520...
In this aerial view of the SR 520/I-5 interchange, contractor crews are preparing to build a reversible transit/HOV ramp between 520 and the I-5 express lanes. Crews will build the new ramp to the left of the existing ramp from westbound SR 520 to southbound I-5. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)
(Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)

Drivers might have noticed the removal of bushes, shrubs, and other vegetation near the I-5/520 interchange in Seattle. Work is ramping up to add a reversible HOV lane between SR 520 and the I-5 express lanes.

Uncertainty surrounding COVID, work schedules brings changes to Puget Sound commute

The first thing I noticed when driving I-5 over the weekend was just how bare the sides of the freeway were. Workers have been pulling vegetation for weeks at the west end of 520, where it meets I-5. If you’ve driven around this area, you probably noticed the new jersey barriers and some lane restrictions on I-5, the express lanes, and the ramps between I-5 and 520.

“Right now, they are shifting those lanes north to create a work zone, and they’ll shift them south, separate them, all so they can build walls and piers for future construction,” the 520 Project’s Steve Peer said.

The contractor is building a new flyover ramp between the two freeways. It will run alongside the existing westbound 520 ramp to I-5, but dip down into the express lanes, creating a direct ramp to the westside of those express lanes just before Mercer Street.

“Lots going on with that, mostly night work,” Peer said. “Mostly taking the I-5 express lanes and changing the lane configurations.”

This will be a reversible HOV lane that will run west to south in the morning, and north to east in the afternoon, following the current pattern of the express lanes. It will run as a bus-only lane until the entire 520 Project is completed, and then convert to an HOV lane for cars and buses.

Peer said drivers need to be prepared for about two years of moving lanes and lane configurations as construction progresses.

“Some of the lanes will be a little thinner than what they used to be,” Peer said. “Drivers should be careful through that area, but ultimately, they’ll rebuild those two ramps to better configure with this new flyover and the future Portage Bay and Roanoke Lid project.”

Peer expects this reversible lane project to be done about the same time as the work on the Montlake Lid. The current schedule shows late 2023 for both of those, but that is not the end of construction on this corridor.

We still have about nine years of work left to endure. That time will be needed to build new bridges over Portage Bay and create a new lid at the I-5 interchange.

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Reversible lane between SR 520 and I-5 under construction