Major rehab coming to southbound I-5 from Tukwila to Federal Way

Everyone was taught the “three R’s” in school. Starting this spring, drivers who use southbound Interstate 5 between Tukwila and Federal Way will learn a new meaning for that phrase – replace, repave and resurface.

Starting Monday, March 21, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will begin an 18-month project to rehabilitate nearly 13 miles of the interstate – replacing expansion joints and concrete panels, repaving sections and resurfacing other sections.

This $27.3 million project will require the crews to reduce southbound I-5 to two lanes for five weekends in July and August 2016. The work will also require frequent overnight lane reductions.

“This section of southbound I-5 is more than 50 years old, and it’s showing its age,” said WSDOT Project Engineer Mike Askarian. “It’s time to restore it. With several months of work, we can keep traffic moving on our region’s main highway for decades to come.”

The three R’s of freeway rehabilitation

To renew this section of the interstate, contractor crews from MidMountain Construction will:

  • Replace 235 concrete panels that are damaged beyond repair and the expansion joints on the southbound I-5 Duwamish River Bridge.
  • Repave southbound I-5 between South 188th Street in SeaTac and South 219th Street in Des Moines, as well as shoulders, lanes and several on- and off-ramps in SeaTac and Des Moines.
  • Resurface the freeway by grinding out ruts and cracks in several sections, leaving a smoother driving surface.


What drivers should expect

Most of the work will be done during overnight lane reductions, mostly between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday nights to Friday mornings.

On five weekends in July and August, southbound I-5 will be reduced to two lanes for about 3.5 miles, starting near the southbound State Route 518 on-ramp. The dates have yet to be scheduled.

“Southbound I-5 usually handles about 86,000 cars a day between Southcenter and Des Moines on weekends,” Askarian said. “To limit congestion, we need about 50 percent of drivers to use other routes or postpone their trip on the weekends when southbound I-5 is reduced to two lanes.”

During the lane reductions, drivers should plan to use alternate routes like State Route 167 to the east and State Route 99 and State Route 509 to the west, or buses or light rail.

The weekend-long lane reductions are needed to replace the expansion joints on the Duwamish River Bridge and for the paving work between South 188th Street and South 219th Street.