Steel shortage derailing plans to complete ‘Revive I-5′ project

SEATTLE — A steel shortage is derailing plans to complete the massive “Revive I-5” project.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said pavement repairs from southbound I-5 between I-90 and Spokane Street are on schedule, but a lack of steel could push back the completion date of another part of the two-year project.

A major component of the $25.6-billion project is installing more than 50 expansion joints.

“Expansion joints allow the freeway to expand and contract with heat, cold and heavy-duty traffic,” said Tom Pearce of WSDOT.

So far, crews have yet to replace even one.

“Our contractor is having a little bit of an issue procuring steel for this,” said Pearce. “It’s probably going to be late August, early September before they can get the steel that they need.”

So, how does that impact your drive on I-5?

According to WSDOT, there will not be weekend morning lane reductions for at least a few weeks.

So far, only two of 16 planned weekend closures have happened.

“This year, we’re hoping to get as many weekends in as possible,” said Pearce.

Pearce said as soon as the contractor gets the needed steel, crews will begin installing a few expansion joints at a time.

“It’s a big undertaking to replace these expansion joints because we have to reduce the freeway down to one or two lanes,” said Pearce.

In the meantime, pavement repairs will continue.