SEATTLE – The Washington State Department of Transportation says equipment dragging from a truck, likely a chain, snagged an expansion plate cover in the south bound lanes of I-5 about 5:30 this morning.
It pulled the metal plate that covers the expansion joint up about six inches, damaging cars, causing flats and sending a few vehicles to the auto mechanic.
It happened near Holgate Street, just south of Interstate 90. The backup grew to more than 10 miles and fouled traffic on Interstate 405, the bridges over Lake Washington bridges and State Route 99, as well as numerous arterials and even side streets. Commuters reported their drive to work times tripling in many cases.
The Washington State Department of Transportation closed three lanes to fix the issue, but did not get the lanes re-opened until 10:45 a.m., more than five hours later.
Northbound traffic was also affected as drivers slowed down to look
WSDOT is in the middle of a project to replace the old expansion joints. Currently a $13.5 million project has replaced or repaired 27 of 33 expansion joints in both the south bound and north bound lanes. But the joint that was the subject of today's incident was not on that list, although wear and tear of the surrounding pavement can make it more vulnerable to be caught by dragging equipment according to WSDOT spokesman Travis Phelps. WSDOT says it would like to do a more complete overhaul of the south bound lanes through seattle but there is simply no money in the budget.
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