Bridge watch: to link coverage of I-90 bridge repairs

With another partial closure of the I-90 floating bridge looming, residents and motorists can stay informed of the latest construction-related developments through the Mercer Island Reporter.

On July 2, the Reporter will launch an “I-90 Bridge Repairs” link in the “Community Links” section, located on the lower right portion of the Web site. Commencing on July 5, one of the Island’s busiest weekends of the year, the Web page will be dedicated to gathering all information that there is to know about construction developments, traffic conditions and more.

The Web portal is a collaborative effort by journalists from around Seattle and the Puget Sound. The Mercer Island Reporter’s parent company, Sound Publishing, will also aggregate coverage using Twitter at “#I90bridge.”

The state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently announced a revised construction schedule, beginning work on the westbound lanes of the I-90 Homer Hadley Floating Bridge on July 5. All westbound I-90 traffic will be funneled down to the two express lanes starting July 6. The work to replace the bridge’s aging expansion joints is now set to finish by July 20, more than a week faster than originally planned.

“Congestion still is expected to be severe, and drivers need to prepare a backup plan to avoid delays for the two weeks of construction. We don’t want drivers sitting in construction traffic any longer than absolutely necessary,” WSDOT assistant regional administrator Russ East said.

Cyclists must also take heed: WSDOT traffic engineers are building two temporary bridges that jut out over Lake Washington at the expansion joints. Cyclists are required to dimount and walk their bicycles across the 50-foot walkways.

The temporary bridges will also be closed once during construction for roughly eight hours while a crane lifts the new expansion joints into place.

Overall, WSDOT predicts delays of an hour or more between Issaquah and Seattle, unless enough drivers change how or when they commute.

If the work is incentivized if it’s finished early — the contractor will receive $510,000 — and penalized if they’re late: the contractor will reimburse WSDOT for each additional day of construction.

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