Midnight slowdowns planned on I-5 to aid light rail project

Drivers should expect delays Tuesday and Wednesday as well as Aug. 20 between Seattle and Lynnwood.

LYNNWOOD — It’s another sign light rail is on the way to Snohomish County.

But most folks won’t even notice.

Interstate-5 traffic intentionally will be brought to a crawl at times between just after midnight and 4 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as Aug. 20 the following week, as Seattle City Light relocates overhead power lines to support Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension project.

“We have to pull some wire above or alongside the freeway,” said Julie Moore, a Seattle Light spokeswoman. “It’s a matter of safety.”

For drivers, that means Washington State Patrol troopers and contracted crews will intermittently conduct rolling slowdowns in both directions of I-5. Traffic will be intercepted and escorted at slow speeds for up to 15 minutes between Lynnwood and north Seattle as crews pull overhead feeder cables across the highway. Traffic will return to normal speeds once past the work area.

“Crews can move the lines without them dipping low enough to come in contact with cars or the road,” Moore said. “However, we use the rolling slowdowns while working over the freeway in an abundance of caution.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, southbound traffic using the I-5 on-ramps at 196th Street SW and 44th Avenue W in Lynnwood, 220th Street SW in Mountlake Terrace and Highway 104 at Shoreline will be affected.

Drivers can expect the same on northbound I-5 from 175th Street and Fifth Avenue in Shoreline as well as Northgate Way and 80th Street in Seattle.

On Aug. 20, traffic using the southbound ramps to 44th Avenue W in Lynnwood, 220th Street SW at Mountlake Terrace and Highway 104 and 175th Street in Shoreline will be affected.

It also could mean slow going for northbound drivers at Fifth Avenue NE at Shoreline and Northgate Way, as well as 80th Street and 70th Street in Seattle.

Drivers should expect delays and consider using alternate routes during construction, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Real-time traffic information is available on the WSDOT mobile app and the WSDOT Traffic Twitter feed.

The slowdowns are just another reminder that Sound Transit light rail is on its way to Lynnwood with plans to be operating by 2024.

To clear space for the 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link Extension, Sound Transit has been cutting down 5,300 trees along the future light rail path that hugs the interstate. The transit agency plans to replace those lost by replanting more than 20,000 trees.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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