i-90_bridgereplacement_expansionjoints-640
This is one of the 33-year-old bridge expansion joints on westbound I-90 at the East Channel Bridge. The expansion joint is one of two that will be replaced during work scheduled to occur July 18-25. (WSDOT Photo via Flickr)

Plan ahead: Know your alternate route for the I-90 closures

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You only have a few days left to figure out your plan to avoid the I-90 nightmare that starts Friday at 9:30 p.m. The seven-day chokepoint caused by the replacement of expansion joints on the east channel bridge means only one lane westbound on the freeway will be open.

This has the potential to be the worst chokepoint we've seen. Ten-mile backups are predicted, which could mean at least an hour added to your Seattle-bound trip coming from the Eastside.

The alternatives:

KIRO Radio traffic reporter Kimi Kline said you need a good plan. "I would consider going north around the lake, using 522 through Bothell," she said. "You could go south around the lake, southbound 405 to northbound I-5 or use Rainier Avenue."

In case of emergency
Officials with several Eastside emergency response agencies say they're well prepared for the construction project and have put a number of contingencies in place.

Read: Expectant parents, emergency responders brace for I-90 construction backups

The easiest option, and the one that will likely get the most traffic is Highway 520.

This comes with a toll, and more than a little controversy.

But what if you haven't used the 520 bridge since the tolls went into effect and don't have a Good to Go pass?

There are a variety of ways to use the Good to Go system, and many of them don't require you to get a transponder on your car.

The first option is to set up an account and get a pass. The passes cost between $5 and $12, plus tax. You will pay the lowest rate on the bridge.

You can open and account and register a car's license plate. You will pay $0.25 more than the lowest posted rate, but you don't need a transponder.

KIRO Radio's Dori Monson
"The real reason they're doing this is because they want every single person in this region eventually to get a Good to Go pass." Read Dori's take

Read: WSDOT responds to Dori's accusation

The option that might make the most sense will be to set up a temporary Good to Go account. It only lasts for 14 days and you can set it up after you cross the bridge. Again, no transponder. You only save $0.50 over the highest posted toll with this option, but everything adds up.

The final option is to blow off the Good to Go system and pay the highest rate by mail.

Don't forget the toll is also a variable. It goes up and down based on traffic volumes. The maximum toll is $5.40.

If you do plan on using an alternate route, you might want to make a test run this week to know exactly where you're going.

The safest bet is to get up a lot earlier next week and go to work earlier than normal.

You can also carpool, use transit (although buses aren't immune to traffic), telecommute or take some vacation days.

Find more:
Read the KIRO Radio Chokepoints series
Check the current traffic conditions


Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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