I-5 repair could clog traffic near downtown Bellingham

Maintenance crews will replace two cracked concrete panels on Interstate 5 next week, both of which have been part of the road surface since the interstate was first built through Bellingham more than 60 years ago, according to officials with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Work will begin after crews close the right lane of southbound I-5 at the Samish Way interchange (exit 252) at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and continue around the clock for up to 36 hours. The southbound on-ramp on Lakeway Drive will also be closed.

Transportation officials expect delays of up to 30 minutes during the morning and afternoon commutes, with traffic backups that could stretch for several miles into downtown Bellingham, according to a press release. Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead and consider using alternate routes.

“We need to get out there and replace these panels before they get any worse and become a safety problem for drivers,” said Ric Willand, a WSDOT maintenance supervisor. “We know it’s inconvenient and is going to cause delays, but if we don’t do the work now, these panels will be a headache all winter long. We’d probably be out there three times a week filling potholes just trying to keep the road drivable.”

The transportation department provides real-time traffic information online at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic.

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