Construction crews will close most of southbound Interstate 5 in Sodo again this weekend, this time blocking all merges from Interstate 90 into southbound I-5.
The disruptions could make travel harder during Sunday’s Seattle Pride Parade downtown, where 200,000 to 500,000 people are expected. Sound Transit light rail will provide normal service downtown with trains every 10 minutes leaving Northgate and SeaTac.
And the Washington State Department of Transportation announced it will also do I-5 roadwork July 2-3 during Independence Day weekend, a departure from its previous strategy to give drivers a holiday break.
The extra closures are to compensate for two rained-out weekends in May, and for taking last weekend off, while parallel route Interstate 405 was closed for overpass demolition in Bellevue.
WSDOT says this is the third of 15 weekend shutdowns in 2022 to replace worn-out steel expansion joint edges and covers with stronger epoxy and silicone joints, to maintain road decks built in the 1960s. Expansion joints are small gaps that allow thermal movements in the concrete.
This weekend, crews will replace the west halves of five joints where I-90 merges into I-5 southbound, said project spokesperson Tom Pearce.
Lane reductions begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, until I-5 fully reopens at 5 a.m. Monday.
Three of the five southbound I-5 lanes will close from downtown to the South Forest Street exit in mid-Sodo. The north-south express lanes will operate on normal schedules, pointing south in the morning and changing to northbound after 1:45 p.m.
No decision has been made yet about whether to close lanes over Labor Day weekend, said Pearce.
Even after a few joint replacements this spring at north Beacon Hill, the roadway remains bumpy, KIRO-FM (97.3) reported. Pearce says three new joints are 5/8 of an inch higher than the road surface, a problem WSDOT hopes to solve by adding pavement material, like short “ramps” near joint edges, in overnight closures. He explained Friday that new joint pieces were purchased in bulk to fit Sodo road decks that got a new pavement layer in 2021, that’s not the same depth as the Beacon Hill stretch.
Later this summer, the “Revive I-5” project will overlap with Mariners and Sounders FC games, the Seafair Torchlight Parade on July 30, and the Blue Angels air show Aug. 6-7 that temporarily closes the I-90 floating bridge, between heats of Lake Washington hydroplane races. During mid-July and late August, a tile-replacement project at Columbia City Station will reduce light-rail service south of Stadium Station to a train every 20 minutes, making transit a less-viable way to avoid Sodo slowdowns.
WSDOT warned that more major maintenance and closures are coming in 2023 across Seattle, the Eastside and South King County, so that joint work in Sodo will “ease a little pressure on the I-5 corridor next year.”