Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Remember what Uncle Ben said

By Barb Chamberlain

Spider-Man's Uncle Ben said it best: "With great power comes great responsibility."

That power lies in your hands and under your foot when you're behind the wheel. You're operating a vehicle that likely weighs two tons or more. The faster you drive, the less peripheral vision you have (the tunnel effect). This means you're more likely to miss seeing someone crossing the street ahead of you. And the faster you're driving when you hit them, the greater the chance you'll seriously injure or kill them with that impact.

We're coming up on the most pedestrian-friendly and kid-friendly date on the calendar: Halloween. Or at least it should be. But research tells us the relative risk of a child 4-8 years old dying on Halloween because a driver struck them is 10 times higher than it is the rest of the year. On Oct. 31 — and every night — it's up to you to make it safe for those outside your vehicle.

A lot of people will be out trick or treating this weekend so if you're driving please be alert, slow down and give them room to make it a safe holiday for everyone. Kids sometimes act in unpredictable ways so if you're driving,
always be prepared, slow down and do your part to keep them safe.

WalkSafe (a program at the KiDZ Neuroscience Center) provided some Halloween-specific tips to go along with our other reminders to drivers below. We've added a few reminders of Washington state law (and the laws of physics).

  • Reduce your speed to 20 miles per hour or less in neighborhoods whether you see children or not. Just because the sign says "SPEED LIMIT 30" doesn't mean you should drive 30 miles per hour.
    • RCW 46.61.400 tells you not to drive "at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions" and "In every event speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person no matter what the posted speed is."
    • If you want your neighborhood to have a posted speed of 20 mph, ask your city to consider using the Neighborhood Safe Streets Law in RCW 46.61.415. They don't have to do an engineering study to lower the speed limit.
    • A car traveling at 30 miles per hour travels about 100 feet in 2.3 seconds, the average reaction time for drivers.
  • If you see a group of kids at or near the side of the road, slow your vehicle to walking speed and give plenty of room. Remember, excited kids will act like excited kids; parents may be overwhelmed.
    • RCW 46.61.245 requires drivers to "exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and...exercise proper precaution upon observing any child..."
    • That Spider-Man mask may make it hard for the child to see you.
  • The nose of your car must stop behind the stop line at all intersections, whether you see a pedestrian or not. Never stop ahead of the line.
    • This refers to intersections with marked crosswalks and/or stop lines. Remember that under RCW 46.61.235 you must stop at both unmarked and marked crosswalks. Every intersection is a legal crossing unless crossing is officially prohibited under RCW 46.61.240.
  • Be extra patient when letting trick-or-treaters cross the street. It can be a chore to keep a group of excited kids orderly, and a child may drop something while crossing. Stay behind the stop line until the entire group has passed.
  • Treat any neighborhood street with no sidewalks as if you were driving ON the sidewalk. The street is this neighborhood's sidewalk.

Once we get past Halloween, November brings two events that serve as reminders to use extra caution on our state's streets and roads. Daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 7, and we head into the winter months with their darker, shorter days. Then on Sunday, Nov. 21, the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims takes place. This international day of recognition reminds all of us to slow down, look out for others, and remember the terrible cost of traffic crashes to victims, their families and friends, and emergency responders.

To save lives so people don't have to just remember their loved ones — instead, they still get to spend time with them — remember Uncle Ben. As the new traffic safety video from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission reminds us, when you're the biggest and the fastest, you have to be the safest too.

Driving Safety Tips

  • Drive the posted speed limit, or slower if conditions make visibility difficult. If a driver hits a pedestrian or bicyclist at 20 mph or less, there is an estimated 95 percent survival rate; at 30 mph, a pedestrian has only a 5 percent chance of walking away without injury and the death rate jumps to 45 percent. The driver trying to save a few seconds by speeding could end up taking someone's life.
  • Stop for people in crosswalks — every intersection is a crosswalk. It's the law. Drivers must stop for pedestrians at intersections, whether it's an unmarked or marked crosswalk, and bicyclists in crosswalks are considered pedestrians. It is also illegal to pass another vehicle stopped for someone at a crosswalk. In Washington, the leading action by motorists that results in them hitting someone is failure to yield to pedestrians.
  • Look and then look again before turning. The majority (68 percent) of pedestrians and bicyclists hit by drivers in Washington state are struck as they are crossing the road.
  • Pass at a safe distance — if you can't, slow down and wait. It's the law, updated in 2019 to require that you move over an entire lane when possible, pass at least three feet away if you can't use the other lane, or wait until it's safe to pass. Darkness and weather conditions may affect a driver's ability to gauge distance. Leaving an extra safety buffer in time and space when passing people gives you more ability to see and react. Be aware that a bicyclist needs to be positioned in the lane a safe distance away from opening car doors, grates, and other hazards not visible to a driver.
  • Watch for people walking or biking near schools, parks, community centers, and other destinations. Remember that children, shorter people, wheelchair users, and people using a recumbent or handcycle may be in the street below your bumper height if you're in a large vehicle like an SUV or pick-up.
  • Put the phone down. Hand-held cell phone use and texting is prohibited for all Washington drivers and may result in a $136 fine for first offense, $235 on the second distracted-driving citation.
  • Don't drive impaired. Lack of sleep as well as alcohol and other substances reduce your ability to see, decide, and react in time.
  • Use your lights but know their limitations. Many car headlight systems were found to provide relatively poor performance in studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Another study by AAA and the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center found that over 80 percent of vehicles on the road have low-beam headlights that don't provide adequate illumination for stopping distance at speeds over 40 mph. Use your brights wherever possible, as long as they will not dazzle the eyes of other drivers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

New timeline for opening HOV lanes through Tacoma

By Cara Mitchell

Earlier this summer our contractor, Guy F. Atkinson Construction, developed an ambitious but attainable schedule to move lanes of southbound I-5 to the new Puyallup River Bridge. That would have set the stage for opening HOV lanes from Fife to Tacoma before the end of 2021.

As we've seen in other industries, supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic are affecting our contractor's schedule. This issue, compounded by subcontractor availability and weather, has changed the timing of connecting and opening the I-5 HOV lanes from Fife to Tacoma. The new schedule now has the HOV lanes open in summer 2022.

We know this isn't what you wanted to hear. Both directions of I-5 from SR 16 in Tacoma to Port of Tacoma Road in Fife are in a temporary configuration with shifted and narrowed lanes and shoulders. Sitting in traffic congestion through the construction zone is not pleasant. We gave you a timeline, and it has unfortunately changed. It's further out, but it is still within the original project timeline.

An aerial photo taken this October of the new northbound and southbound I-5 Puyallup River bridges. The old bridge structures are being removed while the new southbound bridge is under construction.

Schedule challenges
In recent months, the I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road – Southbound HOV project started seeing delays with materials such as drainage pipe and precast concrete panels needed for the project.

These concrete panels are being used in several locations throughout the project – near East 28th Street, Portland Avenue East and in the T Street work zone.

Timelines and schedules for the T Street work zone are important because this area has to be finished before we can move southbound I-5 into its final configuration. Once the T Street work zone is complete, all lanes of southbound I-5 will be moved so that you can drive over the top of it.

Unlike the concrete panels for Portland Avenue East and East 28th Street, the concrete panels for T Street began arriving on time. Unfortunately, the work crews needed to install them were not available. This set the schedule back several weeks.

Inside the T Street work zone on the I-5 Portland Avenue to Port of Tacoma Road – Southbound HOV project.

The project also saw a delay this summer and fall with the pipe needed for drainage structures on the new bridge and elsewhere. The contractor re-sequenced some of the drainage work to keep the project moving forward.

We are at a point where the drainage pipe on the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge must be installed. This requires an approval from the railroad because the work takes place over the railroad, on the new bridge. Finally, the drainage work elsewhere on the project must be completed prior to final paving. Wet, cold weather isn't ideal for paving.

Simply put, we can't shift southbound I-5 lanes on to the new bridge until the T Street work zone is finished. We are waiting to hear from the railroad on installing the drainage pipe on the new bridge. We need decent weather to pave the connections and final surfaces on the ends of the project to mainline I-5. It will happen, just not before the end of 2021.

Resetting the timeline

  • We anticipate that when work is finished at the T Street work zone this winter, the contractor can move into the next phase of construction, which is moving all lanes of southbound I-5 on to the new bridge.
  • From there, northbound I-5 lanes can be shifted into final alignment across the Puyallup River.
  • The connected HOV lanes from the Fife Curve to SR 16 will open sometime in summer 2022.
  • The opening of the new East L Street bridge is currently on the same schedule as the opening of the new I-5 HOV lanes.

Despite the delay in getting I-5 lanes into final configuration, the revised construction schedule is still within the original project completion timeline.

Why drive times increase through Fife and Tacoma
We frequently get asked why it takes so long to get from Fife to Tacoma or why the backups are so consistently harsh from eastbound SR 16 to northbound I-5. The short answer is, the lanes are in a temporary configuration.

Southbound I-5 from the King County line to Port of Tacoma Road goes from five lanes, including an HOV lane, down to four lanes, then to three lanes in the work zone across the Puyallup River. To put it in perspective, the three lanes in each direction going across the Puyallup River is the same number of lanes that I-5 had near Port of Tacoma Road shortly after it opened in 1963. Average daily traffic volumes in 1960 from the King County line to Port of Tacoma Road was 21,600 vehicles. In 2019, the volume for this same area was roughly 200,000.

Northbound I-5 also merges down from five lanes to three through Tacoma to the Puyallup River Bridge. The big difference is not only does SR 16 merge with I-5 on the right side of the highway, the SR 16 HOV lane merges on the left side of northbound I-5. That will change when the HOV lane opens. Travelers using the HOV lane on northbound I-5 will no longer merge into mainline just past SR 16.

The open area in the center of I-5, shown here between Pacific Avenue and Delin Street, is the home for future HOV lanes. The HOV lanes are anticipated to open in summer 2022.

Delays stink. But we're almost there.
Making plans then adjusting is a letdown for all of us. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we can adjust. We will finish this project. The 20-year road trip for the Tacoma Pierce County HOV program is coming to an end. We're almost there and we have a contractor that is doing all they can to complete the project as quickly as possible. Stick with us. The benefits the project will provide will be worth the wait.

We will continue to provide you with updated information pertaining to lane and ramp closures or new changes to the schedule as information becomes available.

Bring on the steel!

Crews launch next phase of construction at Colman Dock

By Suanne Pelley

A whole lot of steel is on the way to Seattle's waterfront. How much steel? About 700 tons—or 1.4 million pounds—of steel is arriving at the Multimodal Terminal Project at Colman Dock. People will see crews begin to erect the steel framing for the next key components of the project, the entry building and the elevated pedestrian connector. An average of four trucks a week for nine weeks will bring this prized commodity to the jobsite.

The first steel arrived on Oct. 19 for the key remaining structures on the Colman Dock project – the entry
building and the elevated pedestrian connector.

By Oct. 22, crews began erecting the steel framing for the new entry building.

This busy terminal serves 10 million passengers per year on two routes as travelers reach key destinations in Kitsap and King counties and beyond. The entry building, a two-story structure that will border Alaskan Way, creates a dynamic portal welcoming both ferry customers and passersby. The entry building will provide ferry ticketing and new retail space on both levels and include three stairways and two elevators for customers to reach the upper level and the passenger terminal building. A new Marion Street pedestrian bridge will link with the entry building on the second level, providing seamless access to the passenger terminal building.

At right is the new entry building to be constructed on the north end of Colman Dock, as seen from Alaskan Way.

Looking south from Alaskan Way at the entry building. The new Marion Street pedestrian bridge is shown connecting to the upper level, allowing direct access to the passenger terminal.

What's the remaining schedule at Colman Dock?

  • By summer of 2022 we will open the remaining two-thirds of the new passenger terminal building, a section of which opened in 2019.
  • In late 2022 or early 2023 we plan to open both the entry building and elevated pedestrian connector.
  • In 2023 the city of Seattle will open the new Marion Street pedestrian bridge, providing access to the terminal from First Avenue. When this new connection is in place, we will remove the temporary pedestrian bridge at Columbia Street.

We look forward to sharing more information as we approach these upcoming milestones!

For more photos, videos and images, please visit the Colman Dock Photo Album. To stay apprised of the Colman Dock project, you can sign up for construction updates or rider alerts for information on the Bainbridge Island or Bremerton routes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Revive I-5 closures turn to the northbound interstate

Update: Oct. 14
Work on the northbound I-5 collector/distributor in Seattle has been postponed due to rain in the forecast. The work is rescheduled for 11 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, and 11 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, to 5 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20. The same ramp closures listed below will be in effect.

By Tom Pearce

We've been working nights on Seattle's northbound Revive I-5 project between Seneca Street and SR 520 since early summer, but that project is about to become a whole lot more visible.

This weekend – weather permitting – we're going to close the northbound I-5 collector/distributor overnight to prepare for a lot of work to improve mobility on the northbound interstate. We will close the northbound C/D:

  • 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to 5 a.m. Sunday, Oct 17
  • 11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, to 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 18

This means ramp closures as well, including:

  • Both directions of I-90 to northbound I-5
  • The northbound I-5 off-ramps to James and Madison streets
  • The Dearborn on-ramp to northbound I-5 (through the C/D) will close from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday nights

So far with this project, it's been all night work and we've had at least one lane open on I-5's mainline. The next part of work on mainline I-5 requires nighttime full closures with all traffic shifted through the C/D. Restriping the C/D gives us two northbound lanes for travelers when the I-5 mainline is closed. When the mainline is open during the day, we'll have the current configuration of one lane from the C/D to the mainline.

With an exit-only lane to Seneca, northbound I-5 in Seattle narrows to two lanes. Single-lane on-ramps from the collector/distributor and Cherry Street add lanes, but the Seneca bottleneck
is one of the worst in the state.

Improving mobility on northbound I-5
OK, so that's what we're doing this weekend, but in the big picture, why? Currently northbound I-5 has an exit-only lane to Seneca Street, which reduces the interstate to just two lanes in downtown Seattle. Between now and fall 2022, we're going to move some barrier along the northbound I-5 mainline north of Seneca Street. By changing the Seneca exit-only lane into a through lane and restriping, we'll have enough room to create three through lanes in the mainline. This should help reduce northbound congestion.

The current lane configuration has only two through lanes on the I-5 mainline and one lane from the collector/distributor to northbound I-5. When work is complete, here’s what the lanes will look like. These maps are not to scale.

In addition to three through lanes on the mainline, this project will create two metered on-ramp lanes from the northbound C/D to I-5. It also will add an auxiliary lane for the ramp from Cherry Street to northbound I-5. The auxiliary lane will only be open during peak traffic times.

Other northbound closures
Finally, this project will require a handful of overnight full closures of northbound I-5 between 12:01 and 4 a.m. We're going to replace a number of the posts and crossbars that hold signs over the freeway and we can't do that while there's traffic below. We'll announce these closures well in advance.

If you're going to Snohomish County while we're doing this work, you'll want to consider using I-90 to I-405 before heading north. You can also use SR 99, just remember there's a toll to use the tunnel. The other detours will be through Seattle on city streets.

This project is one of dozens we are doing to Revive I-5. All these projects will take about a decade to complete, but when we're finished, I-5 should be in good shape for many years to come. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ferry photo contest on Twitter returns with more chances to win

By Justin Fujioka

After a one-year hiatus, our popular Ferry Photo Contest on Twitter is back!

We skipped 2020 because of the pandemic. Uncertainty in ferry ridership demand forced us to frequently modify our route schedules, which caused us to temporarily stop production of our seasonal printed brochures. That’s where we feature the contest’s winning photo.

But like many things, COVID-19 has changed the way we print our schedules. And in this case, it works out in in your favor by increasing the odds of winning the photo contest! How, you ask? Well we now print three separate brochures – one for Central Sound commuter routes, one for Vashon Island routes and one for our vehicle reservations routes – and each one needs an image on its cover!

So this year, we’re looking for three winning photos to be on the three different covers of our printed Winter 2022 Sailing Schedule! It’s your chance for thousands of people to see your best ferry shot!

How to submit a photo

All you need to do is follow @wsferries on Twitter, then tweet your picture between noon Monday, Sept. 27, and noon Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Be sure to include the hashtag #FerryFotoContest. All members of the public, except WSDOT employees and contractors, are eligible and invited to participate. No fare purchase is required.

This beautiful shot of a ferry arriving at our Mukilteo terminal won our 2017 cover contest

Photo requirements and contest rules

We’re not looking for just any old image of a ferry – we’ve got plenty of those. We want something unique, striking and interesting. You may want to include a city skyline, mountains, passengers, or if you're lucky, wildlife. In addition to the submission qualifications listed above, each entrant must follow these requirements and rules:

  • Your photo:
    • Must include at least one vessel in the Washington State Ferries system (in full or partial)
    • Will be printed in black and white, so consider how that will look
    • Must have been taken yourself and you have the rights to submit it to this contest
    • May have been taken at any time
  • Do not break any laws or do anything unsafe in order to snap a shot. If you are on a ferry please steer clear of restricted areas, and if driving, please no photographing or tweeting.
  • Do not tweet a link to an image that has been uploaded to another site.
  • Do not send your photo via direct message on Twitter.
  • You may submit up to three pictures. If you Tweet more than three, we will only consider the first three shared.
  • You will retain rights to your photograph; however, finalists must agree to grant us rights to use their snapshots for marketing and communication purposes, which will include photo credit. We will never sell your picture.
A ferry with the Olympic Mountains in the background was the 2018 cover contest winner

Selecting winners

A panel of judges will select six finalists based on originality, technicality, composition, artistic merit and overall impact. The decision of the panel is subjective, final and cannot be appealed.

Tough to beat a shot of a ferry with Mount Rainier looming behind, as this picture was our 2019 cover contest winner.

The finalists’ pictures will be posted on the @wsferries Twitter page at noon Monday, Oct. 11. The three images with the most “likes” at noon Friday, Oct. 15, will be named the winner and their photo will be featured on our three different 2022 winter schedules!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Crews work to get in a few more weekends of work on southbound I-5 as fall looms

Update: Sept. 24
Because of rain in the forecast for Sunday, this work is postponed. We will try again next weekend.

By Tom Pearce

As this past weekend shows, the end of our major construction season is nearing as the fall weather begins to assert itself. A lot of the work we do uses materials that don't do well in wet or cold conditions. Hopefully we'll still get a few good weekends, starting with this coming one.

We plan to close several lanes and ramps on southbound I-5 between downtown Seattle and Spokane Street to replace the right side of four expansion joints as part of our Revive I-5 work. Here are the details:

8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 to 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27

  • Two left lanes of mainline I-5 will remain open.
  • People will be able to use the collector/distributor to reach off-ramps at Dearborn, I-90, Fourth Avenue South/Edgar Martinez Drive and Airport Way. All C/D traffic will have to exit before or at Airport Way.
  • The following on-ramps to southbound I-5 will be closed:
    • Spring Street
    • The collector/distributor
    • Both directions of I-90
  • Off-ramps to Forest Street and Columbia Way/Spokane Street will be closed.
Drivers will be able to go into the collector/distributor Sept. 25-26 but they’ll nee to use an exit to SODO or I-90. The off-ramps to Forest Street, Columbia Way and Spokane Street will also be closed.

We also plan lane reductions Friday night, Oct. 1, to early Monday morning, Oct. 4. With that closure, we'll again funnel all traffic through the collector/distributor so we can replace the left side of several expansion joints. While the I-90 ramps to southbound I-5 will be closed most of the weekend, we will open them for a couple hours after the Sounders and Mariners games to give many people their usual route out of the stadium district.

Why weather matters
This past weekend our contractor, C.A. Carey, postponed our Revive I-5 work southbound between I-90 and Spokane Street because of rain in the forecast. For this project we are using polyester concrete, which uses a polyester resin binder with sand and aggregate rock to create a more durable driving surface.

We've already paved 1¼ miles of southbound I-5, but when we install each of the 40 new expansion joints on this section of I-5 we will use the polyester concrete to hold the new joints in place.

When we worked during the June heatwave, we had to wait for the existing road surface
to cool before paving with the new polyester concrete.

While polyester concrete is more durable, it's also more weather-sensitive than regular concrete, which can handle cooler temperatures and even a little rain. With polyester concrete, if there is any moisture – even from dew – the concrete may not cure properly. Also, temperatures need to be between 50 and 100 degrees. That was a factor when we paved during the June heat wave. Our contractor had to wait until late into the evening for the surface to cool before they could pave.

About those bumps on southbound I-5...
Anyone who has driven southbound I-5 between I-90 and Spokane Street in the past couple months knows there are bumps at each expansion joint where we repaved the freeway. The old joints are typically an inch or so below the new road surface. As we replace the joints, our contractor is making the new ones more level with the new roadway.

Looking across I-5 from ground level, a 4:1 grading at each expansion joint will lessen the bump.

We did the paving first because it's easier to match the new joint height to the new pavement than vice versa. Piecemealing this process – doing a little paving here and replacing a few joints there – would have greatly increased costs and the time needed to complete this work.

The contractor is now working to lessen these bumps. They are grinding a 4:1 bevel on both sides of each joint. That means for each inch of drop, they shave the surrounding concrete at an angle back four inches, creating a little ramp. There still may be a bump, but it won't be as sudden.

It's going to take until fall 2022 to complete all of this work, but in the end you'll have a smoother ride through this section of I-5. This is just one of many projects we're doing in the next decade to Revive I-5.

New toll bills and statements start arriving in mailboxes

By Chris Foster

The next generation of Good To Go! officially launched this summer. The new system offers tools and features our customers have been requesting throughout the years (you can read about some of these features on our previous blog post).

Your toll bill is coming soon
You may recall before we launched the new Good To Go! system that we anticipated it would take a while for us to send the first toll bills and statements. We knew we'd need a little extra time to perform our due diligence to ensure they are accurate. This week, people with a Good To Go! account who have a balance due on their account, are starting to receive bills in the mail.

In the coming weeks, we will begin sending toll bills to customers who Pay By Mail without a Good To Go! account. This means if you traveled this summer, you may get a bill in the next couple of months that could include  trips from June, which is when we stopped sending bills prior to transitioning to our new Good To Go! system. It also means if you traveled frequently this summer and didn't have a Good To Go! account, you could receive a larger bill with many trips on it.

If you Pay By Mail, it's important to remember that it's not too late to lower a bill once you receive it in the mail. It's easy with our new system to save $1.75 on every Pay By Mail trip when paying your bill online if you choose to open a Good To Go! account. With the first round of bills being sent, we're also providing extra time for customers to pay their bill before late fees are assessed.

Finally, if you're waiting to receive a bill from us, remember, when you Pay By Mail, you don't owe anything until you receive a bill in the mail.

You may notice our bills have a new look. So what has changed?

What's new: If you have a Good To Go! account
A big change with the new system is if your Good To Go! account balance becomes negative for any reason, you'll still be able to manage all toll trips through your account.

If you have an account and you receive a statement with a balance due, the alerts section will inform you of any potential issues with your account; this could be anything from an expired credit card to an account without autopay turned on that reached a low balance.

With this information you can log in to your account and quickly fix whatever issue caused your tolls to remain unpaid.

After a period of time, if you don't add money to your account, we'll mail a statement to the account holder with the trips at the higher Pay By Mail rate ($2 extra per trip on top of the Good To Go! pass rate).

Balance breakdown
One of our priorities for the new look toll bills and statements was to ensure it is clear to customers about what is included in a balance.

The balance breakdown will show your total balance and due date, along with a categorized view of the charges included in the balance. The first line item will show your previous balance. This is a big change for our new system, as toll bills will now include any unpaid tolls from a previous bill. You'll also see line items for:

  • Any payments you have made during the billing period
  • New toll charges that occurred within the billing period
  • Other charges (this will typically be for account holders only and represents things like pass purchases)
  • Fees and civil penalties

What to know if you signed up for Pay As You Go
If you signed up for Pay As You Go, our new payment option that eliminates the need to prepay $30 in tolls, you might notice your statement shows an amount due. With Pay As You Go, any toll trips you take are posted to your account in real time. However, your account is only charged twice a month. So, if you travel on a toll road sometime in between these two payment dates, the trip will remain unpaid until the next payment date.

In other words, if your Pay As You Go account is set to to make payments on the 9th and the 25th, any toll trips you take after the 9th will show as unpaid on your statement (and your account dashboard) until the 25th, at which point your payment method would be charged and the toll would be paid. You can look up your account payment dates, also known as replenishment dates, by logging in to your account at

What's new: If you're a Pay By Mail customer
If you're used to getting toll bills from us in the mail, you'll notice they look different. The first change you'll notice is the information callout box in the upper right corner of the document. Here you'll find the two pieces of information you'll need to pay or dispute a toll: the statement number and the license plate number.

Below that information, you'll see your Customer ID (which you can use for reference when contacting customer service), the billing period for the tolls, the amount due and the due date. With this information, you can easily pay or dispute tolls online at

Further down the page, you'll see a message explaining that a vehicle registered in your name has incurred unpaid tolls. You'll also see how much money you could save by opening a Good To Go! account.

Questions about your bill
Before you pick up the phone to call customer service, be prepared for long wait times. The best times to call are typically in the afternoons, particularly Saturday afternoons.

As the first bills arrive, we expect there will be an uptick in customers calling Good To Go! which could lead to longer wait times. Skip waiting by using the automated phone option to pay a toll bill, on our new and improved website with more self-service features.

We appreciate customers' patience as it will take time to settle into normal operations over the next several months.

Friday, September 17, 2021

A decade later, the story of Daddy Bear still brings good memories and marks a change in the way we interact with the public

By Summer Derrey

We first started using social media with a job recruiting post on June 13, 2008 and were still just kind of getting our feet wet for a few years, not gaining a ton of audience interaction. And then came Daddy Bear.

Daddy what?

Daddy Bear. And yes, it's hard for us to believe that it's been a decade since a concerned grandma reached out to us for help. After that, our social media presence really took off.

Justice received Daddy Bear from her dad, who at the time was
stationed with the Army in South Korea.

In search of Daddy Bear
On Oct. 12, 2011, Patty Holland Sweeney reached out to us via a Facebook post for our help tracking down her granddaughter's lost teddy bear.

A plea on Facebook from a grandma asking for help tracking down Daddy Bear first showed us the
importance of connecting with the public via social media.

Patty's post made clear how important Daddy Bear was to her 6-year-old granddaughter Justice, and showed us what a powerful tool social media could be.

"At the time, I really liked Facebook and so my husband encouraged me to reach out to WSDOT that way," Patty said.

The lost teddy bear wasn't just any bear. It was given to then 2½-year-old Justice by her dad Chile, who was in the Army and stationed in South Korea, and she named it Daddy Bear. The very special lost bear was a reminder to a young girl that her dad was with her even though he was thousands of miles away serving our country. She slept with the bear. She took it to school. It was her best friend.

We knew we had to find Daddy Bear.

Besides asking our road crews for help, we turned to Twitter and Facebook, asking the public to be on the lookout. It got A LOT of attention and the public became invested in the plight of Daddy Bear.

Maintenance to the rescue
Two of our favorite maintenance dads, Harry Nelson and Terry Kukes, went searching and quickly located it on the shoulder of I-90 east of Cle Elum. Luckily, Daddy Bear appeared to still be in pretty good shape! Since that time, Harry has been promoted to Maintenance and Traffic Manager and Terry retired a few years ago.

Harry Nelson and fellow maintenance worker Terry Kukes rescued Daddy Bear from the shoulder of I-90 east of Cle Elum and reunited him with Justice.

"My daughter was very young at the time as well," Harry said. "She was in a horseback riding accident and so I got her a teddy bear too. I know how much it meant to Justice, and I was glad I found the bear."

A short time later, on their own time, they drove to Sedro-Woolley to reunite the Justice with her friend.

We announced on social media that Daddy Bear had been found and reunited with Justice, to much virtual applause from our social media followers. But it didn't end there.

The story to reconnect Justice with her lost Daddy Bear became a media sensation and hit the national headlines.

"ABC News wanted to watch the reunion and so they came to our door," Patty said. "At the time, Justice was very shy but happy to have her Daddy Bear back."

The story of Justice and lost Daddy Bear made national news.

An impact a decade later
A decade later, both Justice and Daddy Bear have changed a bit. Justice has gone from a shy little girl to a very outgoing teenager. She turns 16 today, Sept. 17. Daddy Bear is still going strong, though Patty has had to restuff him a couple times. One thing that hasn't changed much, though, is their importance to each other.

Another thing that hasn't changed is the kindness of our maintenance crews. At our maintenance shed up on Snoqualmie Pass we've seen our crews welcome cold, stranded motorists out of the snow. They have gone out of their way to provide a warm cup of coffee or two and even a spare Cup of Noodles.

Recently we've had workers rescue a kitten and a family of ducks on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and track down (and adopt) a cat on a Skagit Valley highway.

And it seems the generosity and willingness to help runs in the family. Harry's brother, Joe, recently helped a woman locate her lost bag on Snoqualmie Pass.

Our maintenance crews always go above and beyond to help. Earlier this year, Joe Nelson – the brother of Daddy Bear rescuer Harry Nelson – tracked down a woman’s lost bag near Snoqualmie Pass.

A rise in social media
Another thing that has changed is the importance of social media in our messaging and interaction with the public. We started with a Facebook page, one Twitter account, a YouTube channel and Flickr for photos. Since then, we've added a Facebook page for our ferries division, now have 13 Twitter accounts, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit and a blog to go along with YouTube and Flickr. Across all of those platforms we have well over a million followers who turn to us for news, information, updates, videos and even the occasional bad joke or two.

And it all really started with Daddy Bear.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Using Fife’s new SR 99 roundabout

By Lizzy Buechel

What do you call a round intersection with multiple lanes and exits? Well. …it depends! If you're in New England, you might call it a rotary; in New Jersey, a traffic circle; and in Fife: the newly opened State Route 99 roundabout!

In case you didn't already know, as part of the SR 167 Completion Project, we built the first SR 99 roundabout in the state. This work connects SR 99 to the new Wapato Way East Bridge over I-5. The roundabout replaced a nearby traffic signal where significant backups were common. Now, traffic flows through the roundabout to reduce congestion and improve freight mobility between Fife and the nearby Port of Tacoma.

The SR 167 Completion Project includes a new SR 99 roundabout and four-lane Wapato Way East Bridge.

What to expect
As we mentioned, multi-lane roundabouts like the one in Fife move traffic more consistently than traffic signals. The reason is simple; traffic is not required to stop – only yield – which allows more vehicles to move through in the same amount of time.

Skeptical that we can all share one roundabout? It does take some getting used to. Rest assured, we worked with the city of Fife, the Port of Tacoma, and the freight community to make sure the roundabout could safely accommodate the large trucks that will use it frequently, as well as cars and people who walk and bike through the area. Washington has plenty of experience to draw upon, with more than 100 multi-lane roundabouts (some in place for more than a decade). There are multi-lane roundabouts on US 2 in the Spokane area, in the Yakima and Tri-Cities areas, and several in the Bellingham/Lynden area. National studies prove that roundabouts are safer than intersections with stop signs or signals. Studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Federal Highway Administration show:

  • 90 percent fewer fatality collisions in roundabouts
  • 75 percent fewer injury collisions in roundabouts
  • A 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions
  • A 37 percent reduction in overall collisions

Two important tips for driving a multi-lane roundabout
It may be a little intimidating the first time around, but these two important tips could make your travels safer.

  • Tip one: Many people don't know that by law, large trucks are permitted to straddle the lanes to move through the roundabout. So your best defense is to give trucks plenty of space. Don't drive next to or try to pass a truck inside the roundabout.
  • Tip two: Always slow down when entering the roundabout; the posted speed limit on SR 99 is 35 mph and a safe roundabout speed is 15 mph.

Driving the new SR 99 roundabout
Drivers enter the roundabout from either SR 99 or Wapato Way East and then travel in one of three directions: South on SR 99, north on SR 99 or onto Wapato Way East. Like other high-volume roundabouts designed with trucks in mind, this roundabout has two lanes that are wider than typical lanes, which make it easier for trucks to navigate the roundabout. There are also two "slip" lanes for vehicles to enter or exit the bridge without going through the roundabout. The new SR 99 roundabout also has sidewalks and crosswalks for people who bike, roll, and walk in the area. These crosswalks have pedestrian activated flashing beacons for added safety. Drivers should always yield to pedestrians and pedestrians should always use the marked crosswalks and wait for traffic to stop before crossing roundabout lanes.

Know before you go
The graphics below will help you plan your trip so you know what to expect before you travel through the roundabout.

If you are continuing south on SR 99 or getting onto southbound SR 99 from the new bridge,
you can use either lane of the roundabout.
To access the new bridge from northbound SR 99, use the right “slip” lane to bypass the roundabout.
To access the new bridge from southbound SR 99, use the left lane and stay in it as you proceed through the roundabout.

If you've been trying to wrap your head around roundabouts throughout this blog, but feel like you are just going in circles, we have some excellent resources you can circle back to. Below you will find everything from safety tips to instructional videos.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Plan ahead for three big Seattle projects weekend of Sept. 11-12

Update: September 9, 2021

  • The Montlake Bridge closure will now begin at 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.
  • One sidewalk over the SR 513 Montlake Bridge will remain open on the weekend of Sept. 10-13 for pedestrian and bicycle access.
  • SR 520 Montlake Project construction will close Montlake Boulevard between Lake Washington Boulevard and the Montlake Bridge, as well as all SR 520 ramps at the interchange.

By Tom Pearce

Summer is always a busy construction time, but as we move toward the end of the season, we have a doozy of a weekend coming up on Sept. 11-12. Three major closures in Seattle are scheduled from Friday night through early Monday:

  • Southbound I-5 – All traffic will funnel through the collector/distributor as we start replacing expansion joints.
  • Northbound I-5 – The express lanes will be closed all weekend so we can replace broken concrete panels.
  • State Route 513 – Montlake Bridge will be closed all weekend for mechanical work.

Yep, that's a lot for one weekend, but we can't work on Labor Day weekend and we have more work on other weekends in September and need to get this done while the weather is warm and dry. Each of these projects will create traffic issues but with some planning people still should be able to get to where they need to go.

We try to avoid major events when we schedule work like this, but we can't always. For example, the Mariners have a weekend homestand, including a Saturday afternoon game, and the Sounders have a match Saturday night. The Huskies football team is out of town, so that clears the way for the Montlake Bridge work.

The biggest backups of the first weekend of work on southbound I-5
this summer reached the University District.

It's all about planning
Games in SODO require coordination with the two I-5 projects to be sure people can get to and from the events. With the collector/distributor handling all the traffic, you'll be able to get to the stadiums, but you'll need to plan ahead and allow extra time. After the games, we'll have the ramps from I-90 to southbound I-5 open to help you get home.

We frequently see southbound I-5 backups between the University District and Mercer Street, but it usually starts to open up south of there. The last time we moved all traffic through the collector/distributor, during the late afternoon we saw a continuous backup to the University District, about 4 to 4½ miles of slow-moving vehicles.

For those using northbound I-5, you usually get a little break when we open the express lanes between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, but then traffic builds up again. Given our closure, you won't see that relief the weekend of the Sept. 11-12.

Getting around Montlake
Though the current closure of the Montlake Bridge wraps up Sept. 3, the second phase of work begins the weekend of Sept. 11-12. It will be the first of five weekend bridge closures – from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday – to all traffic, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

Crews finished installing the scaffolding and containment system for the Montlake Bridge this week.

We've seen delays on city streets around the bridge this month as travelers find another route. In particular, folks have experienced backups on and around the University Bridge and routes to I-5, like Northeast 45th Street. With southbound I-5 backups that could reach beyond the University District during peak periods, it will be tough to get to and from the interstate. We will continue to monitor and adjust on-ramp metering, and coordinate with the Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro to keep people moving.

You can still get there
It all comes down to planning ahead. You need to allow more time or think of different ways to get to activities in Seattle or the surrounding area.

  • Allow extra travel time – leave early for that game, wedding or whatever you have planned.
  • Use transit – this reduces the number of vehicles on the road and reduces your stress because a professional is handling the driving
  • Adjust your schedule – if you're coming to town for a game, make a day of it. Plan to spend some extra time downtown, on the waterfront or enjoy a meal somewhere. If you can travel earlier or later in the day, that will reduce congestion. And if your trip is purely optional, consider rescheduling it.
  • Stay on top of traffic – use the WSDOT traffic app and follow us on Twitter: @WSDOT_traffic

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Shields not needed to armor this beach

By Bryn Vander Stoep

When we think of beaches, we might think of sand, swimming and marine life. Armor isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind, but it's an important word to remember as we work to create safe environments for those who use our shorelines.

Take our restoration project happening now near the Tahlequah Ferry Terminal at the southern end of Vashon Island. A team of engineers and contractors are restoring 700 feet of shoreline, which will allow for fish passage to nearly 5,000 feet of stream through Tahlequah Creek and more habitat for forage fish. Forage fish feed salmon which in turn feed our endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

No, we're not using shields and swords to armor the beach. Our process is a little more modern.

A look at Tahlequah Beach in winter 2019, before restoration work began

Bulkheads along the shoreline protect the ferry terminal and nearby properties but are aging, eroding and don't align with our environmental efforts so they need to be replaced. With the help of local experts from the Vashon Nature Conservancy and specialists from King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, our team is stabilizing the shoreline in an environmentally friendly way to keep the environment safe for everyone.

But where does the armor come in? Good question.

Our crews are also removing creosote-coated timber and concrete bulkheads from the beach, placing new rock, and are planning to restore native vegetation that will protect and enhance the upper beach habitat. What's this process called? You guessed it: Soft-shore armoring. And as you can see, armoring our beaches throughout Puget Sound will impact generations of beach and shoreline users.

Creosote pilings being removed from the beach as part of restoration work

This work is being done as part of our 2021-2023 Washington State Ferries Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) (PDF 2MB). The plan includes goals related to reducing emissions with hybrid electric technology, incorporating the most current environmental practices into our terminal and vessel maintenance, and promoting biodiversity.

A look at shoreline armoring at Tahlequah Beach. Adding material to the beach will also protect Southwest Tahlequah Road

In fact, we've installed an underwater livestream marine camera at our Tahlequah terminal for scientists and volunteers to monitor the effects of this project.

As we look toward the future, we are committed to finding the greenest route for our ferries service. We will continue to implement the actions outlined in the sustainability plan and keep our customers updated on how we plan to remain the nation's most sustainable ferry system.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Final months of I-5 construction in Tacoma: Temporary changes needed for Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5 starting Aug. 23

Update: Sept. 21, 2021
With dry weather in the forecast, construction crews will shift all lanes of southbound Interstate 5 near Portland Avenue in Tacoma into a new, temporary location overnight Thursday, Sept. 23. Drivers are advised to plan for extra travel time as multiple lanes and ramps on southbound I-5 will be closed starting as early as 9 p.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 24. Visit for a list of ramp and lane closures.

Update: September 16, 2021
The traffic shift scheduled for overnight Friday, Sept. 17 is postponed due to rain in forecast. The traffic shift will be rescheduled at a later date.

Update: September 15, 2021
The late summer traffic shift on southbound I-5 near Portland Avenue in Tacoma is scheduled to occur, weather permitting, overnight Friday, Sept. 17. To shift the lanes, the contractor will need to close several ramps and lanes overnight. Once the lanes reopen Saturday morning, Sept. 18, drivers near Portland Avenue will see southbound lanes shifted towards the right shoulder of the interstate. If weather delays this work on Friday night, the traffic shift will be rescheduled for the next available dry weather day.

By Cara Mitchell

"Are you done yet?"

That is the million-dollar question we've been answering this summer about construction on I-5 in Tacoma to create HOV lanes. It's very similar to the "are we there yet" question from the backseat of the car on family road trips.

Simply put, "no, we're not there yet."  But we are close.

While the "to do" list on this project is getting shorter, starting Monday, Aug. 23, we have a 15-day closure for the Port of Tacoma Road ramp to southbound I-5 that drivers will want to plan for.

In June, we had a weekend closure of the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp that allowed us to move one lane of southbound traffic to the new Puyallup River Bridge and temporarily realigned the ramps to connect with the new bridge. This month, crews are finalizing the Port of Tacoma on-ramp to southbound I-5 to ensure it smoothly connects to the new bridge.

Crews installing pipe as part of a storm drainage system at the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5. The temporary on-ramp will close for 15 days in mid- to late-August for final work.

Prep work for an extended ramp closure
In the days leading up to the closure, crews are installing about 300 feet of pipe along the Port of Tacoma on-ramp as part of a storm drainage system. They're also building a new wall that will be part of the final on-ramp. This wall is made from lightweight natural volcanic material that is less dense and because of utilities under the roadway, necessary at this ramp. This will better help distribute weight across the soft, squishy dirt in the area.  

Once this work is complete, the 15-day ramp closure can start.

Lava rock being used in part of the new Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5

August 23: Port of Tacoma on-ramp to southbound I-5 closure begins
At 12:01 a.m. Monday, Aug. 23, crews will close the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5 for up to 15 days. This around-the-clock closure allows us to replace the temporary on-ramp with a wider, paved ramp. Crews will also install barriers and electronic systems that allow us to monitor traffic flow along the ramp, which is heavily used by the freight industry. If the closure date changes, we will let you know via our email updates for state highway construction in Pierce County.

Detour route
During the closure, drivers who normally use the Port of Tacoma Road on-ramp to southbound I-5 will detour to northbound I-5 to exit 137 for SR 99 North, and 54th Avenue East and back to southbound I-5. Signs will mark the detour route.

When the closure is complete, travelers will have a smoother transition on a wider ramp from the Port of Tacoma Road to southbound I-5. The new on-ramp will have two general purpose lanes and one shoulder lane that can be used as an HOV bypass lane when the project is complete.

Late summer traffic shift south of the new Puyallup River Bridge
One more important thing to be aware of in the coming weeks: another traffic shift. This upcoming traffic shift is needed before southbound traffic is permanently moved onto the new, more seismically sound and wider southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge. We don't have a specific date yet but expect this shift to take place in early September. We will announce dates when we have them.

During the shift, workers plan to move all southbound I-5 lanes of traffic south of the Puyallup River Bridge towards the right shoulder. This will let us re-establish a work zone between southbound and northbound I-5. This shift is expected to be in place through fall.

Why do we need this shift?
Moving travel lanes to the right shoulder of southbound I-5 opens up a work zone to resume construction on the East L Street Bridge. We will build the center bridge pier, then place the backbone of the new bridge, called girders, on top of the piers. There are still several steps to finalize, but the new bridge could open by the end of this year.

With travel lanes moved away from the median, crews will also build a new permanent median barrier. Our contractor, Atkinson Construction, will use an updated high-performance design, making the new barrier taller and sturdier than previous ones. Crews will embed 20-foot-long sections of barrier beneath the roadway, making the new median barrier less likely to be pushed into oncoming traffic after being hit during a vehicle collision.

What happens next?
While our checklist is shrinking, there are still a few final pieces needed to complete this puzzle.

  • Finish removal of the old northbound and southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge structures
  • Move all southbound I-5 travel lanes from the new northbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge onto the new southbound I-5 Puyallup River Bridge.
  • Excavation to rebuild natural habitat
  • And the grand finale – opening the new HOV lanes on both directions of I-5! That will involve new striping on I-5 from the Fife curve to the Yakima Street overpass in Tacoma, scheduled for late 2021. This means you'll be able to use the HOV lane from Gig Harbor on SR 16 all the way to King County without merging.

Stay aware
Summertime means lots of construction activities along the I-5 corridor and throughout the region. As always, please keep our crews, yourself and others safe by driving cautiously through work zones. We know detour routes and traffic shifts can take a little getting used to at first, so slow down, stay aware, and make sure you give construction crews plenty of room so they can get this work done safely.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Weekend closure: Make alternate plans for Aug. 20-23 if you use northbound SR 167 between Sumner and Pacific

By Cara Mitchell

Have you heard about the time we closed almost four miles of northbound SR 167 over a weekend and didn't see major travel delays? Me neither. But we want this to become a true story! To make it happen, we need your help.

From 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 20, to 4 a.m. Monday morning, August 23, we are going to close all lanes of northbound SR 167 from the SR 410 interchange in Sumner to 8th Street East in Pacific for work to help build a high occupancy vehicle lane. During the closure, we'll use a mix of city and county streets as a detour. None of them were built to handle the volume of SR 167 and that's where you come in. We'll all have to work together during this closure.

Northbound SR 167 at the eastbound SR 410 exit in Sumner. This will be the start of the detour route over the weekend of Aug. 20 for anyone traveling north on SR 167.

Short-term pain for long-term gain
Anyone who drives northbound SR 167 from Puyallup to Auburn knows how congested it is. It's why we are building a northbound HOV lane.

There are no times when it's convenient to close northbound SR 167. We're closing the roadway over the weekend because crews need to work where people ordinarily would drive and there's less traffic on the weekend. During the weekend closure, construction crews will make changes to bridge drainage systems and add additional roadway surface to the existing bridge decks.

HOV lanes maximize the movement of people and improve trip reliability, especially for those who share the ride. Ultimately, when all the HOV work is completed, it will benefit everyone using the highway.

How many people use SR 167?  (Or why we need everyone to consider other options)
Approximately 50,000 vehicles a day use northbound SR 167 between Puyallup and Auburn.

With traffic volumes like that, we certainly don't take closing one direction of this highway lightly, and we need your help. We need about 25,000 vehicles or more to avoid heading north that weekend. To give you a sense of perspective, 25,000 is a little less than the combined population of Bonney Lake and Sumner (about 30,000 for both).

Our traffic models show that even with a 50 percent reduction of traffic heading north, we will still see 10-mile backups during the weekend closure. So, we're going to need those who can't avoid heading north to know what to expect and be patient.

One of the work zones in the Algona area where crews are widening northbound SR 167 to add an HOV lane.

Detour routes
We don't have another state highway nearby that can absorb an extra 50,000 vehicles without feeling it. Over the past six months, we worked closely with the cities of Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Pacific and Algona to create the detour routes. There are two of them – one for passenger vehicles, and one for semi-trucks. We can't stress enough that these are local streets. We truly need a lot of people to simply not go through this area during the weekend closure.

Here is the passenger vehicle detour route during the weekend closure:

Here is the truck detour route during the weekend closure:

As you can imagine, a closure like this will trigger tremendous backups on local roads. We are going to need your help so we all can get through this weekend closure.

How can you help?

  • Delay your trip
  • Only travel if it's necessary and avoid discretionary trips
  • Travel earlier in the day or later in the evening when traffic volumes are lower.
  • Use transit, carpool, vanpool or work from home or remote office locations if possible.
  • Follow the speed limit on local roads, don't block driveways and watch for the detour signs.

For those who can't take advantage of these options, it will mean there's the potential for long delays. We encourage travelers to add at least 90 minutes of travel time if you must go through the detour route.

Congestion on nearby state highways
We've seen it happen during emergencies – when a major state highway shuts down, the other highways get very congested. Don't be surprised if you see more people using northbound I-5 through Tacoma and Fife that weekend. We anticipate that nearby state highways such as SR 161 and SR 169 and even SR 99 will have a few more people on them as well. Pack your patience and apply the same advice we listed above.

  • Always check the state-wide Travel Alerts webpage for real time highway conditions.
  • If you're traveling over Chinook Pass expecting to go north on SR 167, please use I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass instead.
  • Coming up from Vancouver or Olympia to Seattle for a Seattle Seahawks pre-season game on Saturday, Aug. 21? Northbound I-5 through Tacoma and Fife will be slow going that weekend.
  • Be aware of nearby construction projects such as the 90-day closure of SR 164 east of Auburn.

Could this work get delayed?
Yes, it could get rescheduled because of weather. It could also get delayed due to unforeseen product availability or staffing issues. We're working with the contractor to try to avoid these issues as best we can. If the schedule changes, we will share the latest information once it becomes available via our email updates and project web page.

Stay safe
Please watch your speed on the detour routes and in work zones. Always give construction crews the room they need to get this work done. Keeping your eyes on the road and slowing down helps keep you, our crews and other drivers safe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Montlake Bridge closed to vehicles, Aug. 9 to Sept. 3

By Joe Calabro

Back in March we gave you the heads-up about some serious work coming to Seattle's Montlake Bridge. As July draws to a close, that work is ready to get going with an almost-month-long closure.

Phase 1: 26-day closure to motor vehicles in August

From Aug. 9 to the morning of Sept. 3, the Montlake Bridge will be closed around-the-clock to motor vehicle traffic. If you typically walk or bicycle over the bridge, fret not! The sidewalks over the Montlake Cut will remain open as crews work.

Why don’t we keep a lane or two open for cars and buses? Safety. During this phase of work, crews will add extra support beams and remove and replace metal grid deck panels. This means at any time there could be a gaping hole in the bridge’s surface. Add crews and equipment into the equation, and it makes the most sense, safety-wise, to keep the bridge closed.
The new metal panels are ready to be installed on the Montlake Bridge, replacing the existing 23-year-old deck.

Since this is a movable bridge, maintaining boat traffic through the Montlake Cut is essential. Boaters that require the bridge to be raised can request ‘single-leaf’ openings. This means one side of the bridge will open upon request. Full bridge openings require 24-hour notice to the bridge operator.
Single-leaf bridge openings will allow boat access without disrupting work on the other side of the bridge.

Plan ahead and change how you move

This is a big deal! The Montlake Bridge is an important and well-used connection between Montlake, the University District and beyond. The bridge carries around 60,000 vehicles per day. With it closed, those travelers will need to go a different way. We expect to see some backups on city streets around Montlake Boulevard, but the length of those delays depends on how well folks can adjust:
  • Walk or bike across the bridge! Take advantage of the open sidewalks and sunny weather, even if it’s just once or twice per week. Who knows, you might just have a new routine on your hands.
  • Let King County Metro be your chauffeur. Our transit friends will have reroutes ready to go for this closure. Ride with them and read, catch up on the news, get some work done, listen to Olivia Rodrigo – whatever.
  • Get a lift with Link light rail. Catch the Link from the University of Washington Station to Capitol Hill and beyond, or vice versa.
  • Carpool. Find a friend, coworker or family member to make riding the detour easier. Just remember to check traffic before you go and plan for delays.
The bridge sidewalks will stay open through the 26-day closure to vehicles. A sunny August day is a great time to turn a driving trip into a stroll across the bridge.

Two birds, one closure

With the Montlake Bridge closed through much of August, traffic on Montlake Boulevard will be reduced as travelers use other routes to head north and south. The neighboring SR 520 Montlake Project will take advantage, doing cleanup work around the former Montlake Market and gas station. Expect Montlake Boulevard at SR 520 to be reduced to a single lane in each direction during most of August. By bundling all this work into a single timeframe, we’re reducing the number of disruptions to the community.
Mountlake Boulevard at SR 520 will be reduced to one lane for most of August.

Weekend closures this fall

Once the deck is replaced in early September, crews will begin rehabilitating the bridge's mechanical systems. This work will take up to five weekends this fall. During those weekends, the sidewalks and road will be closed across the Montlake Cut. Boat access will not be affected. Be sure to check our webpage for any updates to this schedule.