Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Feeling the traffic pinch in Issaquah: westbound I-90 to reduce to one lane in September

By Tom Pearce

We have a saying around the office: "There's no such thing as a simple paver." That's a reminder to us that even though a project may seem pretty basic, the effects on travelers may not be so easy to navigate.

Beginning Sunday night, Sept. 11, we'll begin a project that no one ever considered a simple paver – we'll reduce a three-lane section of westbound I-90 just east of Issaquah to one lane for three consecutive days and four nights. Around-the-clock work will begin at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, and continue through 5 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, while we replace the concrete panels on the left side of I-90. The lane reduction provides a safe work area for the people repairing I-90.

The following week, from 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 to 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, we'll reduce westbound I-90 to one lane again as crews replace pavement on the right side.

When paving asphalt on soil, it takes a few layers to create the designed thickness.

There's nothing simple about repaving a 1,550-foot section of I-90, particularly when we need to reduce a three-lane section of freeway to one lane. In this case, we're not just paving over the top of existing concrete, we're removing all of the concrete panels all the way down to the dirt, then repaving with asphalt. The amount of work necessary means we cannot do this only during overnight shifts.

We need to do this because the nearly 45-year-old concrete is cracked to the point where repaving is not an option. This section of I-90 is located near an old coal mine that was sealed up before the freeway was built. Through the years, water collected in the mine and began seeping under the westbound I-90 lanes. This softened the soil, which eventually led the concrete panels to crack.

Water that has collected in an old mine now seeps under westbound I-90 east of Issaquah.

In addition to the paving work, this project includes drainage improvements to reduce the amount of water that goes under I-90.

This section of westbound I-90 carries about 29,000 vehicles a day. When all three lanes are open, it's generally a free-flowing stretch. Forcing all traffic into one lane is going to create backups, particularly at peak hours. You may be able to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road by:

  • Using transit
  • Carpooling
  • Working from a remote location
  • Avoiding westbound I-90 during morning commute hours

We understand these solutions won't work for everyone, but people who can choose one of these options will spend a bit less time sitting in traffic. If enough people do something different, we can limit backups for everyone.

More work on westbound I-90 planned

This repaving work is only part of the project. We will have additional multi-day closures to repave a bridge and replace the approach to another bridge west of Preston. Each of these projects will require us to reduce I-90 to a single lane. When we have dates for this work, we'll let you know.

Repaving the Highlands Drive on-ramp

It's part of a separate project, but we expect to complete the paving in the next week on the Highlands Drive Northeast on-ramp to westbound I-90.

While our crews and contractors can make the work look easy, it's never simple. We appreciate your understanding as we finish this work as safely and quickly as possible.


Unknown said...

Could you tell us the location of the closure? From around what exit to what exit?

WSDOT said...

The closure is about 1.5 miles west of the High Point interchanges and a half-mile east of the Highlands Drive off-ramp.

Unknown said...

You need a better, more detailed map for such an important project. To me, this project looks like it doesn't affect the Front Street On ramps and the 17th Ave on ramps. It's all East of the actual town of Issaquah but does involve the Highlands downhill on ramp.

Question said...

Can you reconfirm the timing of the closure as another article swaps the ends dates between this week and next week. ie does this week end Thurs or Fri morning, similar for next week's closure:

"The first of six major weeklong lane reductions will begin at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, to 5 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, on westbound I-90 about a mile west of the High Point interchange. Westbound I-90 will be reduced to one right lane as crews add drainage and replace broken concrete panels.

The second closure will be from 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, to 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23, with westbound I-90 reduced to one left lane. The crews will complete drainage work and replace broken concrete panels on the right side of westbound I-90."

Unknown said...

FYI this is seriously messing up peoples days. Who thought this was a good idea to do during the week?!

My kid was over an hour late for school this morning all because of the 5 miles between Snoqualmie and Issaquh. During that time he got car sick from the constant stop and go traffic and threw up in the car.

And you're telling me this gonna be happening every day for the next week two weeks and then again later?! Do better!! This is unbelievable

Unknown said...

Also cars were dangerously crossing the median of the highway to go back eastbound because of how bad the slow down is

WSDOT said...

This closure is 24 hours a day until 5 a.m. Sept. 15. The second closure, which also is 24 hours a day, is from 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 to 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 23. The other four closures have yet to be scheduled.

Janey said...

This past Monday morning, I left 3 hours early to the airport to attend my cousin's wedding. I had a 1 hour and 45 minute delay on I-90 at Preston and missed my flight. I wasn't able to attend the wedding. Why you think you have the right to disrupt people's lives so extremely using tax payer dollars is beyond me. There has to be a better way to do this, at night or just weekends even if it takes longer. Did you ask the actual people who use the highway how this might affect them before making a unilateral decision? WSDOT's judgement in this case is horrible. Please think about your customers, the people who use the roads. Do better!

Mike Gale

snoqualmie, wa user said...

@WSDOT a comment above states different dates/times than the blog article -- should the text in the article be updated to reflect this schedule change? The article states that lanes will reopen 5am Friday Sept. 16, and the following week 5am Thursday Sept. 22. Unfortunately a lot of us are being linked to this article from other sources, and the article may be outdated. Thanks

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