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‘They get stressed a little bit’: WSDOT fixes I-5 expansion joint that caused traffic delays

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SEATTLE -- Overnight road crews will make the final repairs to an expansion joint that caused massive backups on I-5 near downtown Seattle Wednesday morning. Drivers faced bumper-to-bumper traffic and delays after workers discovered the problem in the southbound lanes near the West Seattle Bridge.

"Every time a vehicle goes over those joints they get stressed a little bit," said Chris Johnson, WSDOT official.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says an expansion joint bolt broke and several lanes needed to be closed so it could be fixed.

WSDOT officials coordinated the response and monitored the emergency road repair from the new Transportation Management Center. The facility opened several weeks ago.

"This is probably the first big test that we had," said Morgan Balogh, WSDOT traffic engineer.

At the facility, WSDOT engineers monitor traffic cams, manage highway signs, and communicate with maintenance and incident response teams. Balogh said the new facility helped traffic officials quickly determine the impact on the morning commute and relay that information to drivers.

WSDOT officials say the broken expansion joint was over 50 years old and was recently inspected a week ago. Road crews check the expansion joints in this area once a month.