A large paving project that kicks off today will give Interstate 5 drivers a smoother ride between the Clark County Fairgrounds and Woodland.
But first, they'll have to navigate a summer of overnight lane closures as crews give the 10-mile stretch of freeway a much-needed face-lift. The $6.1 million project is expected to wrap up this fall, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Workers under Kerr Contractors Oregon Inc., will start on the southbound side of the freeway for the first two weeks of the project, said WSDOT spokeswoman Heidi Sause, then move to the northbound lanes. The project will repave a 10-mile section of northbound I-5, from Northeast 179th Street to the North Fork Lewis River bridge into Woodland. The work area on the southbound side of the freeway stretches only 4 miles, from Ridgefield to the East Fork Lewis River bridge.
For motorists, the project means weeknight lane closures from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. while crews grind out deteriorating pavement and lay down fresh asphalt. That section of the freeway, which carries more than 74,000 vehicles daily, last saw a major paving project in 1997, Sause said.
"This stretch of I-5 definitely needs to be repaved," Sause said.
The work will require a bit of a balancing act near two other active WSDOT projects, Sause said. The $133 million Salmon Creek Interchange Project continues at the northern convergence of I-5 and Interstate 205. Crews are also replacing concrete panels along I-205, and will continue on I-5 as far north as Ridgefield, Sause said.
And the paving project affects more than just the freeway itself. Crews will also repair pavement at the Ridgefield weigh station, replace traffic sensors and resurface ramps at the La Center interchange.
"There's several contractors that need to coordinate their work," she said. "Some of those project areas overlap."
Drivers should expect single- and double-lane closures in the paving area on I-5. The first week should bring mostly shoulder closures, according to WSDOT.
It appears crews will begin with dry conditions. But the work is weather-dependent, meaning rain could alter the project schedule later this summer.