CHOKEPOINTS

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

May 5, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: May 6, 2022, 1:18 pm

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 through Seattle will be shut down this weekend for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.

35 metal expansion joints need to be replaced on I-5 from downtown to about Spokane Street. They are the spots where you’ve been bouncing on the freeway since last year when the Washington State Department of Transportation repaved. “I-5 was built in the 60’s, and 32 of the 35 expansion joints in this work area are original,” WSDOT’s Amy Moreno said.

It just doesn’t make sense to keep putting band-aids on them and waiting for them to pop. They need to go.

But it takes about 55 hours to replace one of them. Moreno said the state needs to close the lanes to give the contractor enough room to work. “They have to chip out that old expansion joint, pull it out, and put that new one in,” she said. “They have that special concrete blend they have to use that is very weather sensitive.”

The weather does look a little dicey to get the work done this weekend, but if it does go ahead, all lanes of southbound I-5 will be closed from I-90 to Spokane Street. “Every weekend there will be a different closure pattern,” Moreno said. “This first weekend we will be moving drivers into the collector-distributor lanes, and we will be closing down the mainline.”

WSDOT will be working on this expansion joint project almost every weekend, from now through the fall, with just a few exceptions. Memorial Day, UW graduation, Juneteenth, 4th of July, and Labor Day. So Seafair weekend will be interesting.

Moreno said you will need alternate plans to get through Seattle to see the Mariners or get to a Mother’s Day event for this weekend, but the pay-off will be worth the pain. “When this work is done, people will really enjoy a much smoother ride,” she said.

We will find out Thursday afternoon or Friday morning if the work will go ahead.

Update: 5/6

The expansion joint replacement work on southbound I-5 in Seattle has been called off for the weekend of May 7.

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I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving