Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Dual highway closures will cause region-wide weekend congestion

Northbound I-5 through Seattle, westbound US 2 between Snohomish and Everett close late Friday, June 1 and reopen early Monday, June 4

By Frances Fedoriska

Drivers need to double down and study their weekend routes before a pair of closures bring congestion across the region. Not planning ahead is a gamble that could have travelers spending a lot of time in gridlock in King and Snohomish counties between the night of Friday, June 1 and early Monday, June 4.

Why are you closing two directions of two highways at the same time?
Both the northbound Revive I-5 and westbound US 2 projects need multiple weekend closures during warm, dry weather. In the Pacific Northwest, those requirements immediately limit our crews’ window of opportunity to a handful of months. To accommodate as many projects as possible in our short construction season, we look for opportunities to combine closures when appropriate. A northbound I-5 closure in Seattle combined with a westbound US 2 closure in Snohomish County is workable because travelers trying to go north on I-5 will not encounter the westbound closure of US 2.

Why weekend closures?
The short answer is, our crews can get a lot more work done during a full weekend closure than during a quick, overnight closure. We did a deeper dive into those details in this Revive I-5 blog and this entry about US 2. These weekend closures help shorten these major preservation projects, getting commuters and commerce back on Washington’s freeways in a shorter amount of time.

King County congestion
At 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1 we will begin to completely close northbound I-5 at the West Seattle Bridge for the first of two full weekend closures (the second is scheduled for the weekend of July 13 – 14). The lanes are scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, June 4. Full freeway closures allow crews to complete the same amount of work that would otherwise require several additional weekend-long partial closures and lane reductions of northbound I-5.
View larger I-5 closure map (pdf 963 kb)

US 2 westbound closure
The westbound US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle in Snohomish County will close at 7 p.m. Friday, June 1 between the SR 204 interchange to approximately the on-ramp from Homeacres Road.

All lanes are scheduled to reopen by 4 a.m. Monday, June 4. During this first partial trestle closure we will remove old, damaged pavement, inspect the trestle, make any needed repairs and put down a new layer of asphalt on the far east end of the Hewitt Avenue trestle.

This work is weather dependent. We need a total of six weekends to completely rehabilitate the westbound trestle. The five other closures are tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday on the following dates:

  • July 13 – July 16 COMPLETED
  • July 20 – July 23 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 3 – Aug. 6 COMPLETED
  • Aug. 10 – Aug. 13 POSTPONED
  • Aug. 17 – Aug. 20
  • Sept. 7 – Sept. 10
  • Sept. 14 - Sept. 17

The US 2 Detour
On an average June weekend, roughly 2,600 westbound travelers use this stretch of US 2 every hour. The two-lane highway can handle the traffic. The one-lane 20th Street Southeast detour we will use this weekend doesn't have the capacity to efficiently move every westbound traveler displaced during this US 2 closure.
During the weekend closures of westbound US 2, we will reverse 20th Street Southeast to be westbound only. It will carry drivers up the ramp to the far western end of the US 2 Hewitt Avenue trestle, just before the I-5 interchange.

View larger US 2 closure map (pdf 811 kb)

Across the region, we need help keeping traffic moving
Travelers who want to go west toward Everett, or north through Seattle between June 1 and June 4 need to consider these options:

  • Plan for congestion throughout the region. Keeping drivers off northbound I-5 and westbound US 2 will create a region-wide ripple effect of backups and delays.
    • In Seattle/King County prepare for long waits on state routes 99, 509, 599, 18, 167, 520, I-405 and I-90. City streets also see significant congestion as folks try to sneak around the backups.
    • In Snohomish County brace for congestion on state routes 9, 96 and 528 as those roads become crammed with travelers avoiding US 2 and the 20th Street detour.
  • Carpool
  • Transit. Buses reduce the number of cars on alternate routes, light rail avoids the roads altogether.
  • Move discretionary travel to a non-construction weekend.
  • Travel during non-peak hours. For both closures this is before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Be a helper. Share this information with anyone you know who may be thinking about traveling north through Seattle or west through Snohomish County.
  • Be prepared. Check ahead before you get behind the wheel. 
    • Our website will have closure and lane reduction updates.
    • Get weekly email updates on King and Snohomish County projects.
    • Our Twitter account will have info about traffic.
    • Download our mobile app for traffic maps and other news and updates.

Thanks in advance
We know there’s no good time to close a highway in any direction, and that these closures will present significant challenges to travelers. Doing this extensive preservation work will reduce the need for future emergency repairs that add time to already long commutes in King and Snohomish counties. We appreciate any adjustments you make to help us complete this important preservation work on I-5 and US 2.