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

4 comments:

thecollectordistributor said...

"Southbound I-5 – All traffic will funnel through the collector/distributor as we start replacing expansion joints."

What is "the collector/distributor"? Can you elaborate?

Andrew Poultridge said...

a map maybe?

WSDOT said...

The collector/distributor is a roadway that allows drivers to exit or prepare to enter the freeway without affecting the mainline freeway traffic directly. There are six on- and off-ramps in this 1.5-mile section of southbound I-5; if all the vehicles using those ramps were entering and exiting the I-5 mainline directly, it would be a traffic nightmare.

The southbound C/D starts just after you go under Freeway Park. People going to Dearborn Street, I-90, 4th Avenue South and Edgar Martinez Drive and Airport Way leave I-5 into the C/D. Drivers going to southbound I-5 from 6th Avenue and eastbound and westbound I-90 first go into the C/D, which then takes them southbound I-5.

During regular traffic, drivers can go all the way through the C/D if they so choose, but generally the mainly is a better choice.

WSDOT said...

Yep, a map probably would have been good. Here's a link to the closures page, which also has information about work scheduled for Sept. 18-19 and 25-26: https://wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i5/spokane-street/upcoming-closures

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