You’re familiar with the ongoing expansion joint replacements and congestion along southbound Interstate 5, where the sixth of 16 weekend-long lane reductions begins Friday night through Seattle’s Sodo area.
But this weekend, the Washington State Department of Transportation will also close two lanes of northbound I-5 for repaving downtown, making it harder for drivers to accelerate after they endure the chronic traffic snarls at Seneca Street.
In this rare scenario constricting both directions, reversible express I-5 lanes between downtown and Northgate take on added importance. They will flip from southbound to northbound at 1:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“We decided to leave the express lanes on their usual schedule. There’s going to be impacts no matter what,” spokesperson Tom Pearce said.
Here’s the schedule for I-5 and beyond:
- I-5 southbound lane reductions begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and end 5 a.m. Monday. Usually there will be only two lanes open on the left side, and three closed on the right, including access from Interstate 90. Drivers on the right side can’t enter I-5 using the collector-distributor lanes, but must exit at Airport Way or Edgar Martinez Drive. However, connections to southbound I-5 from I-90 and Edgar Martinez Drive will be open a couple hours following Saturday evening’s Kenny Chesney country-music concert at Lumen Field.
- Northbound roadwork will close two right lanes of I-5 near the Seattle Convention Center, while two left lanes stay open. Traffic from I-90 can still reach northbound I-5 but the merge will be tighter, as drivers nose into the two open lanes, instead of pouring into a third lane. The Cherry Street onramp and Olive Way exit will be closed. Work goes from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. WSDOT will replace asphalt with a harder concrete surface, as part of a project to loosen a bottleneck that’s existed since 1967 at the Seneca Street exit, by adding a third mainline lane.
- Sound Transit light rail remains at low frequency, once every 20 minutes in South Seattle and SeaTac, as contractors replace broken tiles at Columbia City Station. Trains still arrive 10 minutes apart from Northgate to Stadium Station.
- The Cascade Bicycle Club’s 43rd annual Seattle-to-Portland bike ride returns this weekend, beginning at 5 a.m. Saturday, after two cancellations during the COVID pandemic. About 6,000 cyclists, plus medical and supply vehicles, will travel the 204-mile route on city arterials and two-lane state highways. Busy spots include University Bridge in Seattle, the West Valley Highway through Kent, downtown Puyallup, the midway point and campground in Chehalis, and the steep Highway 432 Lewis and Clark Bridge between Longview and Rainier, Ore. For better safety, the Longview bridge deck will be swept beforehand, bicyclists will take an entire lane, and motorcycle escorts will herd riders across in groups, club spokesperson Paul Tolmé said.