A couple miles of congestion await drivers going from Tukwila to Seattle, where three northbound lanes of I-5 will close over the Duwamish River on March 15-17 and 22-24.
On both weekends, the closure is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. Friday and end at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. It will stretch from the I-405/Highway 518 interchange to Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
The exits to Southcenter Boulevard and Interurban Avenue South also will close, to give workers “room to safely replace hardware” in a broken expansion joint, a state advisory says. The southbound I-405 HOV bypass ramp to northbound I-5 will be closed as well.
An exit lane from I-5 to northbound Highway 599 will stay open.
State advisories don’t show a specific detour route, because there are several depending on your destination. Drivers often shift to Highway 167 or Highway 181 heading north through Kent and Renton to reach I-405 and Bellevue, rather than creep on I-5 until the I-405 interchange.
The partial closure is the result of a decision by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) last year to leave steel-rimmed expansion joints from the 1960s between bridge decks — instead of replacing those with new components — while freeway lanes were closed for a major repaving project in June. One of those old joints broke in October, forcing a two-hour traffic shutdown and emergency refastening. WSDOT has said the steel parts appeared in good condition at the time of the June repave.
More than 100,000 vehicles per day roll through the Tukwila area, and past lane closures have caused slowdowns that extended back one mile or longer. Some of the joint work was accomplished during a closure on Jan. 5.
This weekend’s work is part of the larger Revive I-5 program that started with segments of the freeway including Federal Way, Shoreline and downtown Seattle. Projects for the 2019 construction season include continuing joint improvements and repaves northbound from Tukwila to Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood, a $51 million project, and southbound from Spring Street to the Georgetown area, a $40 million project.