I-5 bridge work at Stilly could cause traffic headaches

ARLINGTON — One of the two bridge spans carrying I-5 over the Stillaguamish River will close next week for the next four months.

Work crews are replacing the 607-foot-long deck and some of the support beams of the southbound bridge.

Traffic in both directions will be reduced to two lanes approaching the bridge, and the speed limit reduced to 55 mph in both directions.

By the time the morning commute begins Tuesday, southbound traffic will be directed across the median onto the northbound bridge, which will be divided to handle both directions of traffic.

Starting overnight Monday, southbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane until about 5 a.m. while road crews stripe the highway and paint lane dividers on the temporary crossover. The road will expand to handle two lanes once the striping is done.

The work schedule may change if it rains.

“We have to stripe the highway and if there’s any moisture on the highway we can’t do that,” said Tom Pearce, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

The southbound bridge was built in 1933 and has only been refurbished once in its 81-year lifespan. Built to carry old Highway 99 across the river, it now carries up to 50,000 vehicles each day during the summer months.

Mowat Construction Co., based in Woodinville, was awarded the $8.7 million contract for the project, with most of the money coming from federal bridge preservations funds.

Traffic is expected to be disrupted for the duration of the 120-day work period.

“The key message we’re trying to get out right now is the traffic: Avoid traveling at peak hours if possible,” Pearce said.

The heaviest traffic volumes are from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on the weekends in the southbound lanes, and in the northbound lanes from 3-6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on the weekends.

Local traffic is encouraged to bypass the bridge if possible: using Pioneer Highway to get to and from Stanwood from the south, or Smokey Point Boulevard and Highway 9 to get to Arlington.

Updates to the project are posted on the transporation department’s web page: wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/stillaguamishbridgerehab.

The State Patrol is monitoring speeds through the work zone, Pearce said. In addition, the 55 m.p.h. limit in the southbound lanes extends all the way to Smokey Point Boulevard.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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