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Here's What The Big I-90 Closure Will Look Like. How Will You Survive?

Get ready for some big delays on Interstate 90. Starting Friday night, westbound traffic will have to squeeze down from four lanes to one, beginning at Bellevue Way. Several ramps will also be closed. 

It's going to last an entire week, and yes, the Washington State Department of Transportation says it’s going to be messy.

Stage 1:

Stage 2: 

Why The Closure?

Crews are replacing expansion joints near Mercer Island that are at the end of their useful life. Officials say the repairs are a safety issue.

You might remember expansion joint replacements on I-5 earlier this year that brought only weekend closures. Officials say these joints are much bigger, and much heavier; it’s a different type of project entirely.

Expect Heavy Delays, Avoid If You Can

The closure will take place during a week when both the Mariners and Sounders have home games, and during the weekend of the popular Bite of Seattle festival. And that’s to say nothing of the weekday commutes.

A planned presidential visit could add to the congestion on Tuesday. That's when President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend an event for the Democratic National Committee in the Seattle area, according to the Seattle Times. The details of his visit aren't known, so it's not clear whether it will further snarl traffic.

Transportation officials are asking for your help. They'd like at least 60 percent of drivers to use a different route, especially during peak commute times. But even still, they say delays are likely. 

"If we get a 60 percent diversion during the closure, we still expect morning travel times to be 45 minutes to 1 hour, and a little longer in the afternoon," wrote Mike Allende on the WSDOT blog

Alternate Routes

The primary alternative, of course, is the State Route 520 floating bridge, but there are no exemptions from tolls as a result of the I-90 construction.

Other routes include various surface streets and highways around the lake, such as Highway 522 in Bothell, or Interstate 405’s connection with Interstate 5 near Southcenter. Highway 900 is another possibility, although it runs through the heart of downtown Renton.

How Will You Cope?

Maybe we can help each other out on this one: What are your planned alternatives? Do you know a good route? Or are you able to adjust your work hours or other plans?

Leave a message at 206-922-1028, and we’ll play some of your good advice on the air Friday morning. Be sure to tell us your first name, and where you’re calling from. 


Above animations provided by WSDOT.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.

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