CHOKEPOINTS

Double whammy of weekend freeway closures

Jul 8, 2022, 6:38 AM

Photo from Chris Sullivan...

Photo from Chris Sullivan

Two of Seattle’s freeways will not be options for getting around this weekend. Construction will be impacting both State Route 520 and southbound Interstate 5.

It’s a double-whammy weekend. 520 will be closed in both directions from I-5, across Lake Washington, to 92nd in Clyde Hill. That closure starts around 11 p.m. Friday night and ends early Monday. Southbound I-5 will be reduced to just two lanes from downtown Seattle to the West Seattle Bridge from 7:30 p.m. Friday night through early Monday morning.

This is going to have a huge impact on our travel into and through Seattle.  It will also ripple onto all of our other freeways.

More from Chris Sullivan: Where did the NB I-5 congestion in Tacoma go?

Washington State Department of Transportation’s Steve Peer said the 520 closure is for work on the Montlake Lid Project. “I think they are going to place 28 girders over the weekend so we need the freeway closed so they can hoist those big girders into place,” he said.

Workers will also use the time to put up some new signs. “We’re going to add some speed radar signs that will tell people how fast they’re going,” Peer said.  “We’re noticing that drivers are going too fast in this area, and we really want them to slow down.” The speed limit between I-5 and the floating bridge is 40 miles an hour right now.

Another part of this project is the long-term closure of the westbound 520 off-ramps to Roanoke. It will close at 9:30 p.m. Friday night until after Labor Day. Contractors are moving the ramp to the north, closer to the fire station above. They need the room to build the new HOV flyover ramp connecting 520 to the I-5 express lanes. More on that in an upcoming chokepoint. The ramp from westbound 520 to northbound I-5 will remain open.

The southbound I-5 closure this weekend is for the continuing expansion joint replacement program called Revive I-5. WSDOT’s Tom Pearce said all drivers will be forced off the freeway at I-90. “We’re going to push all traffic through the collector-distributor which will allow us to work on the three left lanes,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to open the express lanes southbound this weekend because the where southbound merges with the mainline that’s in the area where the highway is already closed.

The northbound express lanes will be open during this construction, and actually, they will open up a lot earlier than normal. Around 8 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

The work wrapped up early the last two weekends, but Pearce said you can’t count on that happening every weekend.  “Sometimes they open things up, and everything is perfect,” he said. “We’ve had weekends where they open up everything, and they have a hard time cutting the steel and getting things chipped-out and getting the work done. We just never really know how long it’s going to take to do the joints.”

With the Blue Jays in town and the Sounders playing, there is going to be a bunch of people heading to the stadiums this weekend. They are going to need to find another way or risk long delays. Drivers will even feel this on Interstate 405.

To recap:  520 is a no-go, no southbound I-5 express lanes, southbound I-5 squeezed into the collector-distributor lanes and the 520 Roanoke off-ramp closes until September.

Good luck.

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