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Interstate 5 is due for another round of expansion-joint repairs, which will close three northbound lanes of the freeway approaching downtown Seattle this weekend.

However, the crews will cease working at 10 a.m. Sunday, in time for Seahawks football fans to gather for the afternoon playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Repairs will be spread over nine weekends, until March, the state Department of Transportation has announced.

This weekend’s closure begins at 9 p.m. Friday, from the I-90 exit to mid-downtown. Only one traffic lane will remain open in the mainline passing the construction zone, at Yesler Way. Drivers may also detour to their right, to bypass downtown using the collector-distributor lanes, and merge back into the freeway under the Washington State Convention Center.

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Two lanes of the freeway will be closed the following weekend, from 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, until 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 26.

The third weekend, starting Friday, Jan. 31, the mainline will stay open, but portions of the collector-distributor lanes will be closed — pinching drivers who

arrive from I-90 or who exit to Madison and James streets.

The freeway through most of the central city isn’t a conventional road, but a series of hundreds of small bridges. Between each span, a gap exists so that concrete can expand or contract with temperature changes, without cracking. These gaps are covered by epoxies or steel to prevent crumbling at the concrete edges.

Many of the joints were replaced in recent years, as the battered freeway approaches 50 years of service.

A total of 26 joints are being fixed early this year, part of a two-year, $13.5 million project. Repair work was done by Mowat Construction in 2013 and will be performed by PCL Construction this year.

Occasional expansion-joint repairs have been under way in Seattle since August 2007, when traffic backups of up to two miles resulted from weekday lane closures of I-5 near South Spokane Street.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or On Twitter @mikelindblom

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