Revive I-5 resumes with tents and sandbags to keep out the rain

Tents to keep I-5 dry?

That’s the desperate move so contractors can resume the state Department of Transportation’s Revive I-5 project.

The project has been canceled twice because of rainy weekends. But work crews say they can’t put off the work any longer.

They are replacing expansion joints with a special kind of concrete that dries quickly. But it has to stay dry. So, out of necessity, they came up with an unusual way to do that.

“Well, that’s a lot of tents!” exclaimed Karen Gustafson, Ballard. “Because I heard it’s the worst weather, we’re going to get the more rain in the next two days than all of June is supposed to have.”

That’s right. There will be tents and sandbags on I-5 this weekend. It is a pretty novel idea contractors came up with to get back on track.

They are tasked with replacing 35 expansion joints on I-5 this spring and summer and they need the roadway to be dry.

“The concrete they are using in this project is this polyester polymer concrete,” said Amy Moreno. “It doesn’t work well with moisture.”

The newly-minted spokesperson with the state Department of Transportation says the concrete performs a special function.

“This is a good concrete,” said Moreno, “because it can set in two hours as opposed to other kinds of concrete which take many hours and would require us to close I-5 for days to do this kind of work.”

Crews did manage to get a little bit of work done a few weeks ago. Three expansion joints on the left side of the southbound lanes were replaced with the new concrete.

They will replace three expansion joints on the right side this weekend.

But the prospect of crews using tents is intriguing to drivers who know the wet weather in the Pacific Northwest all too well.

“That’s why all the work is done in the summertime around the state because they get weather to do it,” said Branden Bond, North Seattle. “But if they’re going to go through it, accommodating and putting up tents and all that, then they should be able to work on it year-round.”

The misery begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. That’s when the work begins here.

The freeway will reopen at 5 a.m. Monday morning.