South sound drivers brace for a weekend slow ride on I-5

Interviewed near Olympia's Boulevard Bridge, which overlooks Interstate 5, Washington State Department of Transportation communications consultant Doug Adamson (left) and project engineer Brian Whitehouse sound an alert to motorists regarding week
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Interviewed near Olympia's Boulevard Bridge, which overlooks Interstate 5, Washington State Department of Transportation communications consultant Doug Adamson (left) and project engineer Brian Whitehouse sound an alert to motorists regarding week
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Planning to take I-5 this weekend? Consider this your warning.

July 18, 2017 02:55 PM

A bridge repair project on northbound Interstate 5 in Olympia could cause miles-long backups and long delays for drivers this weekend and the next.

Northbound traffic between Boulevard Road and Pacific Avenue will be reduced to two lanes over both weekends. The lane closures will begin at 10 p.m. on Friday and last through 5 a.m. on Monday.

Crews will return at 10 p.m. July 28 and wrap up by 5 a.m. July 31.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is asking drivers to avoid using northbound I-5 for in-town trips in Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater. If you must take I-5, plan to travel early in the morning or late at night when traffic is lighter. Check traffic before you leave on WSDOT cameras or in the WSDOT app, and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.

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Crews will be working on the bridge over Pacific Avenue to rebuild the approach slab (that’s the piece of concrete that connects the highway to the bridge) and replace expansion joints (the part that allows the bridge to move with traffic and weather conditions).

The area has needed emergency repairs in the past, said Doug Adamson of WSDOT.

“For maintenance, this is a reoccurring problem,” he said. “As you drive through there, you notice a ‘bump-bump,’ that it’s uneven.”

Drivers may see periods of little or no activity during the lane closures while concrete cures before traffic can drive on it. (As in, don’t freak out if you pass by and don’t see any workers.)

Traffic on local roads, including Pacific Avenue, will not be affected.

The closures are part of I-5 repaving work in and around Olympia, expected to last until the fall.

Meanwhile, I-5 southbound drivers can expect lane and ramp closures from 10 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday for other bridge repairs. The southbound I-5 exit to U.S. 101 will be closed, as will the Henderson Boulevard/14th Street on-ramp to southbound I-5.

There also will be lane closures on southbound I-5 approaching U.S. 101.

According to WSDOT, between 65,000 and 124,000 vehicles a day travel I-5 near Olympia.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869, @AbbySpegman