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Washington State Patrol plans to keep shutting down I-5 for protests

Seattle protesters have marched to the West Precinct every night from the CHOP. (Getty Images)

As long as the CHOP area is alive and well on Capitol Hill, you should expect I-5 closures any time protesters decide to march to the West Precinct.

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Marches from Capitol Hill to the West Precinct in downtown Seattle have become a daily occurrence, during which Washington State Patrol has been at the ready to close the freeway.

The protesters’ path takes them right over I-5, and sometimes a few of them make a run to the freeway itself. Trooper Rick Johnson said closing the freeway is all about keeping the protesters safe.

“We’re there to support their First Amendment to march and say what you need to say, but on the freeway with cars it’s just not a good thing,” Johnson said.

Other than the first few nights of protesting, there hasn’t been a huge rush of people on the freeway, and Trooper Johnson said the recent runs toward the road haven’t lasted long.

“It’s been very short-lived,” he said. “They get on, they get off, but we’d rather they not [get on at all].”

Johnson said WSP will continue to close the freeway any time marchers are on the move if their path takes them toward I-5, and the department is listening for any plans from protesters to try and take the freeway in a larger way.

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“We are prepared,” he said. “Troopers know the marches are going to happen, and we’re prepared to close the freeway to make sure that everyone is safe.”

The state has already altered the express lane hours on I-5 to take that center roadway out of the equation. Those lanes close at 8 p.m. every night.

If your travel plans include a trip on I-5 after 5 p.m., you might want to consider using 405.

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