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Lane closures on I-5 next two months

The Mirror

Interstate 5 in Federal Way will have fewer lanes at night for most of the next two months, an inconvenience that will eventually lead to a smoother drive for motorists.

Highway workers will reduce I-5 to one lane in each direction overnight as they smooth out bumps on the freeway’s 43-year-old stretch of pavement, the state Department of Transportation reported.

The partial freeway closures were on every night this week except Friday and Saturday. They’ll resume tomorrow.

For the next week, DOT officials said, drivers should expect the following lane closures from the Military Road bridge to south of South 320th Street:

• Northbound from Sunday to March 31. At 6 p.m. each night, crews will close one lane. At 7 p.m. they’ll close a second lane, and by 11 a third lane will close. All will reopen by 5 a.m. the following morning, officials said.

• Southbound from March 28 (Monday) to March 31 (Thursday). The same drill will be followed, but starting an hour later: First lane closes at 7 p.m., second one at 9 p.m. and third by 11. They’re scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m.

During the closures, crews will grind the pavement to remove bumps that have formed since the particular sections of paving were poured in 1962. In the ensuing years, the wear and tear from traffic pushed concrete panels together and then upwards, creating the jarring bumps that have made that stretch of freeway notoriously rough, according to DOT.

Officials told the Mirror in January that the panels, which have been in place for four decades, were intended to last only 25 years.

The original concrete wasn’t reinforced. New paving will include steel bars to lock the panels together and ward off the bumpy effects. This technique, known among freeway builders as a dowel bar retrofit, did not exist when I-5 was built, officials noted.

They said the rehabilitation will extend the life of the freeway pavement another 10 to 15 years and give drivers a smoother ride and better traction.

I-5 drivers can expect overnight lane closures to continue for the next two months while the upgrade is underway.

This work is part of a state and Sound Transit project to build direct-access ramps and an overpass to connect I-5 HOV lanes with the new Federal Way Transit Center via a new freeway interchange at South 317th Street. The ramps and a bridge will carry buses, carpools and vanpools over I-5.

DOT said the freeway portion of the project is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2006. An early-2006 opening of the transit center is expected by Sound Transit.

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