UPDATE: Traffic good, work “going smoothly” as closure of I-5 continues

Part of freeway shut down both ways for Salmon Creek project




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It appears drivers are staying off the road for the most part as a complete closure of I-5 remains in effect.

“Drivers have done a great job of avoiding travel,” said Heidi Sause, spokeswoman for Washington State Department of Transportation. “Southbound (Interstate) 205 has been pretty heavy for the past few hours, but it’s still moving pretty smoothly.”

Sause said other areas being “monitored” include State Route 500 near St Johns Boulevard, where traffic control signals will be adjusted to allow more time for traffic to maneuver through intersections.

“But those aren’t problems yet,” Sause said. “We’re just watching those spots.”

As of noon Saturday, WSDOT believes there have been no traffic accidents as a result of the closure.

Still, they are asking folks to pay attention to traffic controls temporarily setup along State Route 500.

“The way 500 is setup right now is to accommodate free flow of traffic off I-5,” Sause said. “But a lot of drivers are ignoring the traffic control and they are turning left (in closed turn lanes) and that is really dangerous.”

While State Route 500 is seeing the few issues, the department is seeing relatively clear lanes to the south on State Route 14.

Sause also said the road work being undertaken is “going smoothly” and, “if things continue to (go well) we may reopen early.”

This story will be updated.

-Erik Hidle

Original Story:

Maybe you’re a resident of Salmon Creek heading to Portland for this weekend’s Rose Festival. Maybe you’re in west Vancouver, thinking of heading north for a weekend getaway.

Thinking of taking Interstate 5? Forget it.

A complete, two-way closure of I-5 at Salmon Creek is under way. The shut-down will send tens of thousands of vehicles onto other freeways and local streets. The result may not be Carmageddon, but it could be sluggish out there.

The 54-hour closure began at 11 p.m. Friday, scheduled to continue until 5 a.m. Monday. It will allow construction crews to place 12 huge concrete girders over the freeway as part of the Salmon Creek Interchange Project, a $133 million effort to remake the northern convergence of I-5 and Interstate 205. The girders are part of new bridge that will eventually carry Northeast 139th Street up and over both freeways.

Southbound I-5 is closed from I-205 to Northeast 134th Street. Northbound I-5 is closed between state Highway 500 and I-205, meaning all vehicles traveling north on I-5 will be dumped onto Highway 500 unless they exit sooner.

The Washington State Department of Transportation began preparing for this weekend’s heavy lifting well before the closure began. By Friday afternoon, six of the 165-foot, 175,000-pound girders sat on trucks lined along I-5, ready for action. Once they’re unloaded, crews will deliver the rest of the girders from Tacoma this weekend, said WSDOT spokeswoman Heidi Sause.

WSDOT has also set up a camera that will post updated construction images to the project website every two minutes. The feed is available online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/ne134thi205/.

As detours go, the best bet for pass-through traffic is I-205, along with state Highway 14 and Interstate 84 in Portland. Local travelers can try their luck on Highway 500 or stick to the local streets.

WSDOT has urged drivers to check travel conditions before heading out the door this weekend, or stay home entirely if possible.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com