EVERETT — Late-night drivers who use Highway 526 or the ramp there from northbound I-5 will need to find another route this week.
The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to have a contractor close a section of the highway and the northbound I-5 ramps to Highway 526 and Highway 99/527 overnight. The closures are a safety precaution while crews remove and replace two sign bridges, WSDOT’s term for the metal structures that hold signs over the road. Both aluminum sign bridges are around 50 years old and will be replaced with ones made of structural steel.
“They just reached the end of their life expectancy,” said WSDOT spokesman Joe Calabro.
The first closure will be for both directions of Highway 526 between Airport Road and Seaway Boulevard, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Monday night. The closure will resume Tuesday evening until Wednesday morning. Traffic will be detoured to Casino Road.
The second closure is for the northbound I-5 ramps to Highway 526 and Highway 99/527, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Wednesday night and resuming Thursday night until Friday morning. WSDOT encourages drivers to exit early or take the detour at 41st Street and loop back to southbound I-5.
Earlier this month, northbound I-5 just south of Highway 526 was reduced to one lane overnight for crews to remove an old electronic sign, called a variable message sign by WSDOT, and replace it with a new one. Contractor crews also used that time to prepare the shoulders for the sign bridge posts, Calabro said.
WSDOT’s traffic center employees operate the electronic messages to tell drivers about backups, crashes, travel times and upcoming closures. They also are used for emergencies, such as amber and silver alerts. Snohomish County has 14 such signs, which cost about $500,000 each, including installation.
The project’s total cost is about $1.71 million and comes out of the WSDOT capital budget.
Ben Watanabe: email@example.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.