CHOKEPOINTS

I-405 shuts down again this weekend

Sep 8, 2023, 8:03 AM | Updated: 3:33 pm

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)...

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

Interstate 405 will be a no-go all weekend between Coal Creek Parkway in Factoria and Sunset Boulevard in Renton.

The closure begins at 11:30 p.m. Friday night and lasts through early Monday morning.  The Washington Department of Transportation’s Craig Smiley on what the contractor needs to freeway for this time.

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“We’re shifting traffic onto a new structure,” Smiley said.  “All lanes will be on a new bridge that goes over what will be the future northbound I-405.”

But that’s not it. A temporary 44th Street will also be built.

“Over the weekend, crews will build a new road where the freeway is now and go underneath where traffic will be,” Smiley said.

That will be the eventual final configuration, with I-405 over the top of 44th, a reverse of today.

“So we’re flipping where 405 and NE 44th St. will be,” Smiley said.  “It’s a bypass road for now, and they’re making it so we can build the west side of the project offline.”

When drivers get back on the freeway Monday morning, all six lanes of I-405, both north and southbound lanes, will be on the new northbound bridge over 44th.

Smiley expects a small learning curve.

“It’ll be a little bit different visually from what people are used to, but if people just follow the lanes in front of them, the stripes in front of them, it should be just fine,” he said.

The detour route will put the estimated 400,000 vehicles that use this section of I-405 onto Coal Creek Parkway, which is not designed to have that much traffic. The last time WSDOT did this, Smiley said the backups were manageable because people stayed away.

“We’ll have a uniformed police officer helping direct traffic,”  he said.  “The last time we saw heavy volumes, but with the officers and the help of our city partners in Bellevue timing those signals as best as they possibly could, traffic really kept moving. We’d still love if people would travel during off-peak hours to spread out those volumes throughout the day, but it worked really well last time.”

When the contractor shut the freeway down last month to put in the fish culvert underneath the interchange, Smiley said they were fighting the fish spawning calendar.

With the Huskies and Seahawks both playing home games this weekend, wasn’t there another two-day window WSDOT could choose?

Smiley said there wasn’t.

“We’re really butting up against the weather, as we saw we saw a couple of rain events recently,” he said.  “We expect that stuff to pick up, so we needed to get this in place so we can continue working through the winter..  This was our last shot.”

For those not heading to either game, the Huskies play at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Hawks play at 1:25 p.m. on Sunday.  Expect peak congestion a few hours before and after each one of those games, and try to avoid I-405 at all costs.

Other alternatives to Coal Creek Parkway would be to take State Route 900 around the bottom of Lake Washington or State Route 522 over the top.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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