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Originally published December 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 16, 2008 at 11:26 AM

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Work on interstates to make 2009 a test of patience

The state plans next year to replace some of the worst-worn and most heavily traveled sections of three major interstates in the Puget Sound area. Some $280 million will be spent on projects for Interstates 5, 90 and 405.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Major roadworkahead in 2009

Interstate 5

The state will replace 450 broken concrete roadway panels and grind down a bumpy section of the freeway near Northgate. The work will run from Boeing Access Road to Snohomish County and will require several weekend lane closures from February through September.

The work will be done from south to north, with no more than three miles of lane closures at a time. The lane closures will take place over 100 nights and on as many as 10 weekends.

Interstate 90

Two projects for Lake Washington bridges will cause closure of the express lanes. First, 19-year-old expansion joints will be replaced in the express lanes and the westbound lanes of I-90. The express lanes will be closed from May 4-23. Then, for 22 days in July, the pavement surface on the westbound lanes will be replaced. Westbound traffic will be funneled into the two express lanes during that work. The state hopes 10 percent of regular I-90 traffic will divert during the project, either to Highway 520 or around Lake Washington.

Interstate 405

Installing quiet pavement near downtown Bellevue will require daytime lane closures. Two freeway lanes in each direction will close as many as four weekends in August.

Highway 519 (Royal Brougham Way)

Crews will completely close the route 15 times between March 2009 and March 2010. Each closure will last seven days. The road will remain open for major sporting events and anything else that draws more than 10,000 people to the stadium area. The work includes building an overpass, adding a ramp and widening a section of the road.

Sound Transit

Beginning in June, Sound Transit will close the I-5 Olive Way offramp for a year to reinforce and drill through a freeway wall — work related to expanding light-rail service from downtown Seattle to Husky Stadium.

Battery Street Tunnel

This stretch of Highway 99 just north of downtown Seattle will be closed for upgrades and cleaning during 11 weekends from October through January 2010. There also may be nighttime closures.

In addition, the Hood Canal Bridge, which carries about 20,000 vehicles a day, will be closed for six weeks in May and June.

All construction information is online at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/construction/2009.

In what likely will test the patience of Puget Sound commuters — think lane closures and detours — the state Department of Transportation plans next year to replace some of the worst-worn and most heavily traveled sections of three major interstates.

Some $280 million will be spent on the local road work, the most construction disruption in any year since the 1980s. Included on the list: Interstates 5, 90 and 405.

"We want to make sure drivers don't hate us at the end of the construction season," said Transportation Department spokeswoman Jamie Holter, and that is why, she explained, the state is releasing its closure list now. The state also is preparing videos on the closures to post on YouTube.

The work will close the express lanes on the I-90 bridges across Lake Washington for 40 days this summer. There will be I-5 lane closures from the Boeing Access Road in north Tukwila to Shoreline from February through September. There will be nighttime closures on I-405 from February through December. And the Olive Way offramp from I-5 in Seattle will shut down for as long as a year.

"This will be the worst year yet in terms of construction," said Lorena Eng, Northwest Regional Administrator with the Transportation Department.

And the construction won't end when 2009 is history, Eng said. There are still the state's megaprojects: replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Highway 520 bridge.

In all, $279 million will be spent on road projects in King and Snohomish counties in 2009, up from $161 million this year. In King County alone, $147 million will be spent on roads, up from $72 million this year.

Next year's road projects will proceed despite the state's current budget woes. All are fully funded through the state gas tax. They should help stimulate the economy by providing needed jobs, Eng said. One project alone, on Highway 16 in Tacoma, will result in 200 new temporary jobs.

Eng said that because of the economy, bids are coming in lower than estimates. The I-5 paving project came in 37 percent under the estimate, the Transportation Department said. The estimate was $15.7 million; the bid came in at $9.9 million.

"This is the longest and most-challenging season ever," said department spokesman Travis Phelps.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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