Drivers urged to avoid I-5 in Olympia for next two weekends
OLYMPIA – The busy Interstate 5/U.S. 101 interchange in Olympia will be the focus of bridge repair work on the weekends of Sept. 12 and Sept. 19, requiring land and ramp closures, the Washington State Department of Transportation said Monday.
During the two weekends, contractor crews working for WSDOT will replace a 171-foot-long bridge expansion joint that spans the width of the roadway because of deterioration.
Both weekends include day and night lane and ramp closures for both directions of I-5 near Capitol Lake. WSDOT traffic engineers warn that drivers likely will face lengthy backups and delays because no convenient alternate state routes are available.
Even with traffic volumes decreasing by 30% over the two weekends, traffic models show backups reaching 14 miles, with especially heavy congestion expected on southbound I-5, WSDOT said.
Sept. 11 night closures
Starting Thursday, Sept. 11, motorists will encounter night closures on I-5 and U.S. 101 as crews re-stripe I-5 lanes toward the highway median. At 8 p.m., crews will close the left northbound I-5 lane approaching Deschutes Way Southwest. At 10 p.m. they will close a second northbound I-5 lane and two ramps: 1) the southbound US 101 exit to northbound I-5; and 2) Deschutes Way Southwest to northbound I-5. US 101 motorists will be detoured onto southbound I-5 and through the Tumwater Boulevard interchange to reach northbound I-5.
The I-5 lanes and the US 101 ramp will reopen at 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 12. The Deschutes Way Southwest on-ramp to northbound I-5 will remain closed through Monday morning, Sept. 15.
Sept. 12-15 closure details
Drivers can expect major lane and ramp closures along both directions of I-5 near Capitol Lake between 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, and 5 a.m. Monday, Sept.15.
I-5 lane closures
- I-5 will be reduced to one lane in each direction between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 12 through Sunday, Sept. 14. During the daytime hours on Saturday and Sunday, I-5 will be open to only two lanes in each direction.
Ramp closures and reductions
- The Deschutes Way Southwest on-ramp to northbound I-5 will close from 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, to 5 a.m., Monday, Sept.15.
- The Henderson Avenue/14th Avenue Southeast on-ramp to southbound I-5 will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday, Sept.12, to 5 a.m., Monday, Sept.15.
- US 101 on-ramp to northbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane from 10 p.m. Friday, Sept.12, to 5 a.m., Monday, Sept.15.
Stay engaged and have a backup plan
Drivers who cannot avoid I-5 in Olympia during the two weekends are advised to:
- Consider traveling through the area early (before 10 a.m.) or late (after 8 p.m.) in the day.
- Stay informed by checking WSDOT traffic alerts webpage, following WSDOT’s regional Twitter account, and by calling 5-1-1.
- Expect considerable delays with miles of stop-and-go traffic.
- Be prepared – have a full tank of gas, have diversionary games for children traveling in the car, and pack patience.
- Allow plenty of extra time to reach travel destinations.
People traveling between Seattle and Portland might want to consider advance reservations on Amtrak Cascades. Amtrak Cascades offers four round trips per day between Seattle and Portland.