MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- You can hear the thump of the car tires when they cross the expansion joints on the bridge over the Ebey Slough on Interstate 5 entering Marysville. When you go across one that hasn't been fixed yet, you can feel the thud, too.
The long-running on-again, off-again project to replace 41 of these aging joints is back on again this weekend. For folks who have to get between Marysville and neighboring Everett, this project has been a real pain.
"I work in the Everett Marina and sometimes it takes an hour sometimes," says Frank Dorsett.
He's not alone in his frustration about the I-5 construction. It's been squeezing this part of Snohomish County since last fall. This coming weekend is the second to last weekend of the lane restrictions to get the repair work done.
"Yeah, I just deal with it," says Dorsett. "I've learned a lot of back roads."
The Washington State Department of Transportation says backups, resulting from choking the highway down to two narrow lanes along northbound I-5, have stretched up to five miles at times. Traffic spills onto alternate routes, too.
"Everyone I know talks about how horrible it is getting home," says Dorsett.
So far, WSDOT has replaced 33 of the expansion joints. There are only eight more to go this weekend and next. For more on this project, click here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/unionsteamboatebeybridgerpr/
"The big advantage of the weekend closure is people know that they're coming," says WSDOT's Annie Johnson.
She says with this type of work, the concrete needs time to cure, so overnight closures aren't long enough.
"The challenge with construction in summer is there's always something going on. It's the advantage of living in a metropolitan area, though. You have sports teams and there are fairs and festivals. There's always something happening somewhere."
Bellevue to Seattle is going to be another problem route for travelers this weekend. Interstate 90 westbound across Lake Washington is going to be narrowed to one lane of traffic from Friday at 11 p.m. until Monday at 5 a.m. The work that WSDOT is doing will extend the HOV lanes and allow for Sound Transit to begin construction soon to bring light rail to Eastside communities. For more on this project, click here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i90/twowaytransit/
Only 2 Northwest seasons
"It goes on and on," says Sharon Beach of Marysville.
She tries to be empathetic, but says there's only two seasons here these days around Puget Sound: rainy season and construction season. And aging infrastructure all around us isn't helping, she tells Q13 News.
"I get that they have to do this stuff in nice weather, it doesn't work if they don't. It's kind of getting ridiculous how often it happens every single year."
For others like Cathy Amendi, she changes her routine.
"I try to do stuff on my days off and avoid the rush hour type traffic. It's definitely not fun sometimes."
With a lot of events happening this weekend, there could be a lot of headaches on the road this weekend. On Friday night, the Seattle Storm play a home game against Phoenix at KeyArena. On Saturday afternoon, it's Peru vs. Haiti in the Copa America at CenturyLink Field. And Sunday morning will be busy around the Seattle Center. The Race For The Cure starts around 6 a.m. and should keep lots of folks in that area until the early afternoon. The Seattle Storm play in the afternoon, taking on New York.
In Marysville, where patience is wearing thin, many are skeptical about the expansion joint repair work being done by June 16. But, WSDOT officials say the project is right on schedule. And even better news, there's no major state projects for the rest of the summer near Everett or Marysville.
The nearest next big project is a paving project on Highway 531 scheduled for much later this summer near Arlington. For Frank Dorsett, whose commute will soon return from 60 minutes to about 10-15, he's got some sage words for all of us when he says, "Just hang in there."