Washington state

DOT plans summer construction for I-5

Seattle - Planning a summer vacation? Consider August.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) will create a commuting nightmare, paving more than a mile of northbound Interstate 5 and replacing failing bridge expansion joints between South Spokane Street and Interstate 90.

The work will involve nearly three weeks of intense construction from Aug. 10 into Aug. 29, when crews will close several lanes of northbound I-5 all day, leaving only two to three lanes open to traffic.

Lengthy backups and significant delays are expected, particularly affecting commuters from South King County and West Seattle.

"These closures have the potential to create unprecedented gridlock on freeways and city streets," said Lorena Eng, regional administrator for the DOT.

Drivers also can expect periodic closures of the South Spokane Street and South Columbian Way onramps to northbound I-5, and the northbound I-5 exits to Fourth Avenue South, Interstate 90 and James, Madison and Dearborn streets.

I-5 from Spokane Street to the I-90 interchange is more than 40 years old and is one of the state's busiest sections of freeway. The expansion joints connecting the concrete spans that make up the freeway are failing and pose a serious risk to drivers, according to the DOT, which said collisions are growing as the top steel plates of these joints detach.

In addition to the work on northbound I-5, the state also will repair the expansion joints on the southbound roadway, using overnight closures.