March 2, 2009 in City

Smooth part of I-90 slated to get longer, starting in April

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Work crews and lane closures are coming back to Interstate 90 this spring, two years after contractors finished a two-year job to fix pavement on the I-90 viaduct through downtown Spokane.

This time, the badly rutted concrete from Division Street east to just past Havana Street is scheduled for repair.

In addition, interchanges from Geiger Boulevard on the West Plains to Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley will see pavement fixes.

The cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley are teaming up with the state Department of Transportation for adjacent pavement improvements on Maple and Walnut streets under I-90; Third Avenue between Altamont and Freya streets; and Argonne and Mullan roads near I-90.

Lane closures are expected to occur from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in segments where the work is being done.

In all, the state and local agencies are planning to spend $11.2 million on the work.

Bids are currently being sought through March 12, and state engineers expect to start work about a month later.

“We expect we will be out working at the end of April,” said Dan McKernan, project engineer for the DOT.

Concrete pavement slated for repair on the through lanes between Division and Custer Street near Havana was last repaired in 1994, but studded tire wear has left deep ruts in the years since, officials said.

With traffic volumes exceeding 100,000 vehicles a day, the wear from studs has gotten so bad that the work is needed again. “The pavement just can’t hold up to that,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for the DOT in Spokane.

The worn concrete dates back to construction of the freeway in the late 1950s. During the repair work in 1994, crews used a grinder to level the pavement.

This time, the DOT is planning a two-part approach to the job. The section from Division to the Hamilton Street interchange will be ground down to eliminate ruts that are not as defined, largely because of curves and lane changes that allow for more even wear.

The segment from Hamilton to just east of Havana will be paved with two layers of asphalt mix. The first layer will be placed in the ruts to create a level surface; a second layer will then be laid across the width of the lanes. In addition, a concrete gutter along that segment will be replaced with an improved drainage system.

Closures at night are expected in the areas where the work is being done. During the day, motorists will have to negotiate different types of surfaces that may slow traffic, and drivers will have to be cautious in the construction zone.

Interchanges that are in line for repair work, from west to east, are Geiger, Garden Springs/U.S. Highway 2, U.S. Highway 195, Maple-Walnut, Monroe-Lincoln, Division, Hamilton, Altamont, Thor-Freya, Broadway, Argonne, Pines and Sullivan.

In addition, an old segment of pavement in the westbound lanes near Flora Road, installed as a test segment, will be replaced.

In 2006 and 2007, traffic along the I-90 viaduct was narrowed with major ramp restrictions so that the lanes could be repaired. This year’s work is not expected to cause the same level of restrictions.

Spokane isn’t alone in facing traffic restrictions this summer on I-90.

The westbound lanes of I-90 across Lake Washington will be closed for three weeks this summer as crews repair deteriorating expansion joints. A separate closure is planned for repairing expansion joints on the express lanes.

The bridge was opened in 1989 before fatigue testing was a standard requirement for expansion joints. Maintenance crews have been trying to keep up with joint failures, but the work requires welding that further weakens the joints. Failed expansion joints can pose a safety risk, DOT officials said.

In the Cascades, the DOT is planning to widen I-90 for about five miles from Hyak east to Keechelus Dam on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass. The freeway will go from two to three lanes in each direction, chain-up areas will be extended, and new bridges installed over three creeks. Wildlife passages will be installed to reduce the risk of animals on the roadway.

The Snoqualmie Pass work is part of a larger project to improve passage through the mountains.

Road work

Construction on Bigelow Gulch Road just east of Havana Street should create the possibility of lane restrictions. Motorists are asked to be careful and to watch out for flaggers directing traffic onto one lane during the work.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email