(4:37 p.m.: this story was updated based on follow-up information by the state DOT, about speculative costs of repaving I-5)
Look down from the Northeast 50th Street overpass in Seattle and you see cracks, makeshift blacktop patches, ruts and even holes in the deck of aging Interstate 5.
Starting Friday night, the state Department of Transportation will start repair of the southbound freeway, and begin overnight lane closures on nine Friday and Saturday nights, through March. The weekend repairs will happen between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m., forcing two or three mainline lanes to be closed. But the southbound express lanes will be open, to reduce the chance of traffic backups heading into downtown Seattle. Some weeknight repairs will occur from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. At times, the Northeast 45th Street exit will close.
Workers will replace 31 broken concrete panels, and grind the freeway to reduce ruts. Work stretches from Northeast 51st Street to the Ship Canal Bridge, and from the south end of the bridge to beyond Roanoke Street. Crews won’t grind the bridge deck because that might expose reinforcing steel bar, said project engineer Hien Trinh. He said the transportation department lacks money to repave I-5 — at $1 billion for all of King County
North Seattle — but grinding would be a “stopgap” measure good for 10 years. Motorists can expect a grooved, corduroy-type surface.
Normal freeway traffic is already thunderous, and Trinh said neighbors can expect worse during pavement repair, at volumes of 85 or 90 decibels. That’s equivalent to standing next to a kitchen blender. When similar work was done in 2009, the state received 140 noise complaints. Brick homes and wood bungalows nearby were built before the freeway, which removed houses, as shown in this link via the Seattle P-I, and divided Wallingford from the U District in the early 1960s.
The DOT decided to concentrate the work on weekends, instead of robbing neighbors of sleep on several consecutive weeknights; schedule the job for winter when residents have their windows closed; and provide a hotline to request earplugs or information, at 206-440-4DOT (4368).