Traffic on southbound Interstate 5 will shrink to two lanes near Southcenter during five weekends this summer, the first happening late Friday.
The “South King Slowdown” begins 11 p.m. and continues to 5 a.m. Monday, between South 188th Street and South 219th Street, just uphill from the Westfield Southcenter Mall.
Three southbound lanes will be closed — followed by similar slowdowns on the next two weekends.
The July work zone will stay south of the Interstate 405/state Route 518 interchange, allowing drivers to still reach Renton, Burien, the mall and Sea-Tac Airport, though traffic could be sluggish.
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Two August closures will crimp the freeway farther north involving the Duwamish River bridge, making it even tougher to reach the big Southcenter interchange.
Workers operating heavy machinery will pulverize the 50-year-old concrete panels, compact the rubble, then lay an 8-inch layer of asphalt over the roadbed. Four expansion joints will be replaced on the river bridge.
The work is part of a 13-mile, $27 million project between Tukwila and Federal Way. Work will be completed next year.
The state Department of Transportation won’t predict an exact time or distance for delays.
Motorists can bypass I-5, then re-enter southbound via state Route 516, the Kent-Des Moines Road:
On the east side, follow state routes 167 or 181 (West Valley Highway) to meet state Route 516 and climb uphill.
West of I-5, follow state Route 509 and International Boulevard South beyond the airport, then turn left at state Route 516.
The carpool lanes will be converted to general traffic or be closed for repairs. Travelers can catch Link light rail at the SeaTac Airport or Tukwila International Boulevard stations.
Another mess looms in Seattle, where eastbound Interstate 90 lanes will be reduced and funneled into the express lanes at Rainier Avenue South this weekend.
Road lanes, lights and fire-suppression equipment are being changed to relocate the I-90 carpool lanes and build the light rail next year.
“There are only so many weekends on which these things can be done,” said Transportation Department spokesman Tom Pearce.