Drivers heeded warnings to avoid I-90 construction zone last week

While contractor crews toiled to replace two massive expansion joints on the westbound Interstate 90 East Channel Bridge near Mercer Island, most drivers heeded the warnings and steered clear of the construction zone for the week.

Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation closed all but one lane of westbound I-90 near Bellevue Way and three lanes across the East Channel Bridge from 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 18, to 4:25 a.m. Friday, July 25.

The lane closure threatened to cause large backups, but according to WSDOT, commuters took the warnings to heart.

“We thank commuters for doing their part,” said Northwest Region Administrator Lorena Eng. “We asked them to do something different this past week by delaying trips, taking time off, telecommuting, carpooling or leaving early. We even heard that people were boating across the lake. The bottom line is every time we need commuters’ help during big projects like this, they step up and respond.”

Generally, traffic engineers observed that the morning and evening commutes began and ended earlier than is typical. The longest average travel time was recorded on Monday morning, July 21, when it took drivers 34 minutes to travel from Issaquah to Seattle. At the peak of the morning commutes, there was a 40 to 60 percent diversion of vehicles off I-90. The evening diversion rate averaged 35 to 46 percent.

Nighttime I-90 trail expansion joint work next

Work began Monday on replacing the two bridge expansion joints under the I-90 bicycle/pedestrian trail.

Crews will close the two right lanes of westbound I-90 on the East Channel Bridge weeknights from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to access the trail and place construction equipment.

One lane of the Interstate 405 ramp to westbound I-90 will also be closed each night, although the ramp will remain open.

During work hours trail users will be required to stop at the construction zone and then wait for a flagger to give them permission to proceed. No work will be performed from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. At all times, users should use caution and be prepared to cross large steel plates on the trail at the expansion joint locations.

This work is expected to last approximately two weeks.

For more information on upcoming projects and traffic information, visit


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