They said it would be bad — and it was — but apparently it could have been worse.
Traffic on Interstate 5 northbound was reduced to two lanes from Boulevard Road to Pacific Avenue in Olympia over the weekend for a bridge repair project, turning the highway into a parking lot at times and straining drivers’ patience.
The lane closures will return Friday night and last through the weekend.
“The traffic was what we had expected. When you have northbound I-5 reduced to two lanes on a busy summer weekend, you will have those backups,” said Doug Adamson of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Adamson said at its peak, traffic was backed up to Trosper Road in Tumwater. Based on traffic models, officials had thought the backups would go beyond that.
Adamson said that didn’t happened because enough drivers knew about the closures and avoided the area.
“For the drivers caught in the backup, we appreciate their patience, we appreciate their understanding. We’re out there fixing the bridge,” he said.
Crews are making repairs to the bridge over Pacific Avenue, which has needed emergency repairs in the past. While closures over the summer aren’t ideal, the warm, dry weather is best for making road repairs.
This weekend, expect to see lane closures start at 10 p.m. on Friday and last through 5 a.m. on Monday, July 31. Once again, drivers are asked to avoid northbound I-5 for in-town trips in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater.
If you must take I-5, plan to travel early in the morning or late at night when traffic is lighter, and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going. Adamson said this weekend traffic was manageable until about 10 a.m. Traffic remained backed up until after 11 p.m. Sunday, however.
Drivers may see periods of little or no activity during the closures while concrete cures before vehicles can drive on it.
Meanwhile, the Deschutes Way Southwest on-ramp to northbound I-5 will be closed from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday while crews make bridge repairs in that area. Drivers should use the on-ramp at Trosper Road.
On The Olympian’s Facebook page on Monday, drivers shared traffic horror stories from the weekend and vented their frustration. One person wrote it took more than an hour to get from Tumwater to Lacey going through town. Another driver tried to take back roads from Tumwater to Nisqually but found those roads were clogged too.
“Yup, it was a parking lot. Took 30 minutes to go from the 101/I-5 on-ramp to College Street,” one person wrote.
“City of Oly was doing construction work and had two lanes of Harrison on Saturday (closed). Why of all days would Oly choose to do road work on that street when everyone was taking that road to bypass I-5? Shows the state and local governments can't work together,” another wrote.