CHOKEPOINTS

Nightly I-5 closures begin Monday near Kent-Des Moines Road

Jun 22, 2023, 5:00 AM | Updated: 9:12 am

i-5 closures...

Steel girders that will be installed in I-5 (Photo from Puget Sound Gateway Program)

(Photo from Puget Sound Gateway Program)

You’ve been driving through traffic barriers for weeks. Now it’s time for nightly closures of Interstate 5 (I-5) at Kent-Des Moines Road.

Getting through this construction zone on I-5 is not going to be easy for the next few weeks. Starting Monday night, only one lane of I-5 will be open from midnight to 4 a.m. The lanes could start closing as early as 8 p.m. to prepare for the night’s work.

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That’s what the concrete jersey barriers protecting the HOV lane in both directions of the freeway are for. Drivers are actually going to cross the freeway and drive through the opposite direction’s HOV lane during the closures.

“This is not something that we take lightly, and it’s not something that we do very often,” the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT)’s Kris Olsen said. “These are big, long, very heavy girders that required two cranes and a lot of room to maneuver.”

You have likely seen the girders in this work zone, with 30 of them being placed over I-5 to create two new bridges over the freeway.

“They will set six girders for the southern half of the new 216th Street Bridge and 24 girders for the northbound I-5 flyover ramp to the new State Route 509 expressway,” Olsen said.

The lane reductions will begin in the northbound direction.

“They are going to set the girders for the northbound lanes first, and then they’ll turn around and set the girders for the southbound lanes,” Olsen said. “It’ll take about 18 days to set all the girders in both directions.”

The closures will be Monday through Thursday until the work is done. The girders range in size from 65 feet to nearly 200 feet long. They weigh anywhere from 95 to 126 tons. That gives you a good idea of why WSDOT needs to close the freeway while working overhead.

This is all related to the extension of SR 509 from I-5 to the south end of the airport. This will eventually become a tolled facility that will provide direct access to the airport from the south.

Construction of that new tollway will begin next year.

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