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Week-long closures of westbound I-90 continue
Monday morning July 21 update: Traffic impacts light through weekend, but WSDOT warns drivers not to get complacent. Check online traffic information resources listed below before you travel.
One of the biggest highway construction closures of the summer has begun onwestbound Interstate 90 near Mercer Island. Westbound traffic is reduced to just one lane around-the-clock. During the closure, contractor crews from Mowat Construction will replace two 33-year-old, 92-foot-long expansion joints on the East Channel Bridge just west of Interstate 405.
WSDOT officials said that contractor crews will need seven days to replace these joints due to their size, and the fact that they are deeply embedded into the concrete bridge deck.
“Removing and replacing these joints will be a significant task for our contractor, and simply too much work to complete with weekend closures,” said WSDOT Regional Administrator Lorena Eng. “There’s no getting around the fact that we are going to see traffic backups. But, we can’t wait any longer to replace these expansion joints, and risk that they will fail.”
I-90 lane closure details
At 10 p.m. on Friday, July 18 contractor crews closed all but lane of westbound I-90 just before Bellevue Way Southeast to replace the two expansion joints on the East Channel Bridge. The work will be split into two stages over the course of the seven-day lane closure.
WSDOT has created animated traffic maps to illustrate the lane closures and how traffic will flow during the work.
- Crews will close the three left lanes of westbound I-90 between I-405 and Bellevue Way Southeast.
- Westbound I-90 will narrow down to just one lane at Bellevue Way Southeast and widen to three lanes just before the East Channel Bridge.
- The Bellevue Way HOV on-ramp to westbound I-90 will be closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose on-ramp.
- The southbound I-405 ramp to westbound I-90 will be closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose on-ramp.
- The three right lanes will be closed between I-405 and Bellevue Way Southeast.
- Westbound I-90 will remain just one lane near Bellevue Way Southeast and widen to three lanes just before the East Channel Bridge.
- The Bellevue Way general purpose on-ramp to westbound I-90 will be closed around-the-clock.
- The southbound I-405 HOV ramp to westbound I-90 will be closed around-the-clock.
The expansion joint over the bicycle/pedestrian path on I-90 will also be replaced. The path will remain open during the day. However, pedestrians and cyclists may experience delays of up to five minutes nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
All I-90 lanes and ramps are scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. Friday, July 25. However, WSDOT is offering a financial incentive to Mowat Construction to reopen all lanes early. Mowat can receive $50,000 per day up to $100,000 for early completion.
What can drivers do?
WSDOT needs drivers’ help to keep traffic moving during this closure.
“This is going to affect a lot of people, and we’re asking for drivers to start planning now to avoid big backups in July,” said WSDOT assistant regional administrator of traffic operations Mark Leth. “This is not just an eastside driver’s problem. This closure will affect the many Seattle-area highways.”
Travelers who use westbound I-90 should consider the following:
- Choose an alternative travel mode such as car or vanpooling, public transportation, walking or cycling.
- Set up a short term Good to Go! account to use westbound SR-520 during the work.
- Consider telecommuting.
- Drivers heading westbound into Bellevue may want to consider exiting early and using surface streets to reach their destinations.
- Allow plenty of extra time and expect additional congestion on alternate routes including SR-520 and surface streets.
- Use westbound I-90 early in the morning or late at night.
- Delay or reschedule discretionary trips.
Know before you go and have a backup plan
Those who must drive are encouraged to stay engaged and check traffic conditions frequently via WSDOT’s web, mobile and phone based traveler information systems.
- The Seattle traffic page contains updated road information including links to traffic cameras.
- Travel alerts provides real-time information about blocking incidents.
- WSDOT’s mobile app offers information for travelers on the go.
- @wsdot_traffic on Twitter provides updates travel issues.
- 5-1-1 offers traffic updates.
- The What’s Happening Now page chronicles closures and issues affecting travelers.