Motorists on U.S. Highway 2 northeast of Farwell Road are going to find big changes this weekend.
Southbound lanes will be closed through Sunday evening so that the contractor on a $55 million freeway project there can reroute traffic onto a new, lowered highway alignment.
Drivers going south will have to take Market Street south to Farwell and then go west to reconnect with the highway.
Shady Slope Road will have a temporary detour this weekend to the intersection of Farwell and Pittsburg Street.
The weekend detours started Friday at 6 p.m.
Northbound traffic will continue traveling this weekend on two temporary lanes.
Some traffic congestion is expected in the area, especially for southbound drivers.
When the switch is completed Sunday evening, highway traffic will be placed on the new alignment for U.S. 2, which will carry it under a series of bridges and over a new culvert above Peone Creek.
“They are taking traffic off of the detour route and putting it back on what will be the permanent alignment,” said Al Gilson, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation in Spokane.
Over the next 11 months, there will be one southbound lane and two northbound lanes on the new alignment until construction is completed in May 2011.
A construction speed limit of 45 mph remains in effect, and southbound vehicles more than 10 feet wide must take Market and Farwell to get around the narrowed construction area.
The work is part of the construction to create an interchange for U.S. 2 with a north Spokane freeway that will eventually run 10 miles from U.S. Highway 395 at Wandermere to Interstate 90. The first segment of the corridor opened last year between Farwell and Freya Street near Francis Avenue. The segment from Farwell to U.S. 395 is expected to open next year.