Traffic from the Blue Angels will no longer be a problem around Seattle
The two worst driving days of summer are going away in Seattle. The annual Blue Angels visit in August will not shut-down I-90 and gridlock the city anymore.
Thursday and Friday before Seafair weekend in August are always a disaster when the Blues are in town. The pilots use I-90 as a waypoint for calling out maneuvers, so it needs to be closed every time they’re in the air.
That meant I-90 would close two times on Thursday, and once on Friday for practice sessions. That closure would then cause I-5 to back up for miles. It would cause 520 to crawl. It would even extend to slowing I-405. Moving around the city on those days would almost be impossible.
Seafair’s Patrick Harrison said the festival wanted to try and change that.
“We know we have an effect on our neighbors in the community,” he said. “We’re just trying to lessen that effect and really listen to community leaders about how we can be good partners and part of the community but actually effect people less.”
Seafair asked the Blues to move their center-point for the show a little bit to the south. That move will eliminate the need to use I-90 as a reference point, meaning it will no longer have to close during practices and shows.
“There’s going to be light rail traveling across I-90 here in the next few years,” Harrison said. “We wanted to have the Blue Angels get used to a new flight path.”
That move will eliminate the closures of I-90 and prevent train delays across the lake when light rail starts service to Bellevue in 2023.
Still, not everyone will be happy with this move. Many people in the past have timed their drive so they would be stopped on the floating bridge, just to watch the shows.
“A lot of people are saying they are going to miss that opportunity,” Harrison said.
What does this mean for viewing or for the show? Harrison said you shouldn’t notice much of a difference.
“It’s not going to effect the viewership,” he said. “People are still going to be able to see it where their favorite place is.”
It won’t impact the boat restriction zones on Lake Washington. They will remain in the usual locations. This also opens-up the I-90 path across the lake, for those who want to walk or bike out to watch the shows.
Seafair has also tweaked the timing for the Blues. Practices on Thursday will be at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. There will be two practices on Friday, at the same times. The weekend show times will start at 3 p.m.