The trip to Seattle on Interstate 5 is about to get more challenging.
Contractor crews working for the state Department of Transportation will embark this week on a project to overhaul the northbound freeway lanes from South 260th Street in Kent to the Duwamish River Bridge.
The $31 million project is expected to last until late 2018, the department said Monday.
Lane restrictions will be in place throughout the work, much of which will take place at night. The main traffic effects might be on the weekends. Crews intend to restrict northbound I-5 to two lanes during 10 upcoming weekends.
Exact dates for those restrictions should be set within the next couple of weeks, said Tom Pearce, a Transportation Department spokesman.
Those weekend restrictions are expected to contribute to delays similar to those during a recent overhaul of the southbound lanes from the Duwamish River Bridge to Federal Way.
Pearce told The News Tribune that crews working on the new project will coordinate schedules with those working on major improvements in the Tacoma area to minimize delays as much as possible.
Another project scheduled to begin later this year will overhaul northbound freeway lanes from about Martin Luther King Jr. Way South to Northeast Ravenna Boulevard north of downtown Seattle.
Transportation Department officials said the work is long overdue.
“We’ve been maintaining I-5 for more than 50 years, but it’s time for major preservation work, so the interstate can continue to serve our region for decades to come,” said Lorena Eng, the agency’s Northwest Region administrator.
The section of northbound freeway between South 260th Street and the Duwamish River, which carries about 100,000 vehicles a day, was built in 1965 and expected to last about 25 years, according to the Transportation Department.
“Much of the roadway is worn out, and drivers often notice bumps where concrete panels are broken,” the agency said. “Decades of heavy traffic have worn ruts into the roadway. In addition, eight expansion joints are worn out and must be replaced.”
Gary Merlino Construction has been awarded the contract for the work, which will be funded with money raised from the 2003 nickel gas tax increase.
Merlino crews will:
▪ Replace more than 400 concrete panels.
▪ Repave about four miles of freeway between state Route 516 and South 178th Street.
▪ Grind off ruts and bumps.
▪ Replace eight expansion joints on the Interurban Avenue and Duwamish River bridges and rebuild their decks.
▪ Make American with Disabilities Act improvements at several intersections.
The work “will create safer and improved driving conditions” and “extend the useful life of I-5 for decades to come,” the Transportation Department said
The second project, which will cost about $36 million, will include:
▪ Replacing 37 expansion joints on elevated portions of the freeway.
▪ Replacing hundreds of concrete panels, including those near the West Seattle Bridge.
▪ Grinding concrete sections to remove ruts.
▪ Replacing four approaches to three separate bridges.
▪ Repaving 24 on- and off-ramps.
Much of that work will take place at night, but the Transportation Department expects significant lane closures during 16 weekends in 2018 and 2019.
About $24 million of the money for the project will come from pre-existing funds, according to the agency. The rest was raised from the 2003 nickel gas tax.