Several weekends after the chaotic, traffic-snarling Interstate 90 construction closures occurred through Mercer Island, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has another closure scheduled overnight from Oct. 14-15.
On Monday, WSDOT apprised the city of Mercer Island of the upcoming westbound I-90 closure to complete routine Mount Baker Tunnel maintenance — which includes inspection and graffiti and road cleanup — according to James Poling, WSDOT’s northwest region assistant communication manager.
The closure — which will shutter all westbound I-90 lanes starting at Island Crest Way — will transpire beginning at 10:45 p.m. this Friday until 6 a.m. on Saturday. The closure will not impact eastbound I-90.
The city reiterated in a press release that no westbound I-90 access to Seattle will be available during the closure, and that the Island Crest Way, 76th Avenue Southeast/North Mercer Way and West Mercer Way on-ramps will all be closed.
Poling said WSDOT had a pair of productive meetings with the city regarding the closure over the last 24 hours and added that the late notice was due to WSDOT internal communications challenges. WSDOT looks forward to its continued work with the city and to make sure communications are effective, he said.
Since there are no I-90 exits between the tunnel and Mercer Island, the closure is necessary and happening during this weekend’s least impactful traffic times, Poling said.
“It happens, give or take, bimonthly (in) either direction. Unlike three weeks ago, that was a construction-related issue; this is a routine maintenance that we have performed for years since the tunnel has opened,” he added.
In the press release, the city noted: “While the interstate will reopen the next morning, the city and Mercer Island Police Department are working closely with WSDOT and the State Patrol to ensure steps are in place that minimize impacts, including needed signage and traffic control measures identified during difficult closures earlier this month.” The release added that the city will continue to provide available updates.
Poling said WSDOT doesn’t anticipate any challenges since the crews are familiar with this regular closure and should be efficient with their tasks.
“The difference for this one is that it’s a full closure, so there won’t be people cutting through Mercer Island from the Eastside,” said Poling, adding that last month’s non-frequent closure affected traffic and evening commutes from Sept. 23-26, and had WSDOT opening and closing lanes throughout the weekend while crews replaced a critical expansion joint.
For more information on road closures and current conditions, visit the WSDOT weekly travel planner at https://tinyurl.com/2ptnk33v.