Friday, June 7, 2019

Cooperation leads to smooth weekend of SR 99 Aurora bridge paving in Seattle

Travelers make the difference by choosing different routes, modes of transportation

By Tom Pearce

If you follow horse racing, you know a trifecta is hard to hit. But we managed to hit a trifecta – perfect weather, good coordination by our contractors and help from people traveling in the area – to finish a successful first of 10 weekend-long lane reductions on the SR 99 Aurora bridge in Seattle.
Crews repave the northbound lanes of the Aurora bridge.

We can’t do anything about the weather, so when conditions are good we depend on our contractors and the traveling public to make these projects succeed. Last weekend the contractors did their part by staying on schedule or even a little ahead.

But people who travel are the ones who make the biggest difference when we’re doing major preservation work like repaving this venerable 88-year-old structure, officially named the George Washington Bridge. Sometimes we need to reduce a highway to two or even one lane in each direction for construction. In this case, it was reducing three lanes to one.

If all the people who usually drive the Aurora bridge on weekends continued to do so last weekend, we could have seen long backups – perhaps to Green Lake or beyond southbound and well into the new SR 99 tunnel northbound. Instead, people made other choices – different routes, different modes of transportation – and we saw backups we could measure in city blocks instead of miles.
Keep up the good planning!
This is just the first of several weekend-long lane reductions to repave the bridge. We have another scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, to 5 a.m. Monday, June 17. This time they’ll repave the southbound lanes on the south end of the bridge, if the weather cooperates again. We’ll have a similar road setup as last weekend, only with traffic shifted to one lane in each direction on the east side of the bridge.

We understand reducing a major highway like SR 99 to one lane in each direction for an entire weekend is rough for people who travel, but safety is our first priority, and this allows us to provide our contractors with a safe work zone. Because we can repave long stretches of three lanes at once, it gives us a better end-product, reducing the number of seams in the asphalt. That means a smoother road for you for years to come.

In the meantime, thanks for helping create a great first weekend. As I mentioned, we have several more to come. Keep planning ahead and we’ll try to finish as soon as possible. You can get the latest information by checking our mobile app and the WSDOT Traffic Twitter feed. Working together, we can all hit some more trifectas.