Friday, August 5, 2022

Seafair, Revive I-5 and multiple sporting events makes for a busy weekend ahead

By Sean Quinn and Tom Pearce

Seafair weekend is always one of the busiest times of the year on our roadways in the Seattle and Mercer Island area. This year, though, it’s just one of several events that will make weekend travel through the area a bit tricky – and it’s why we need the public’s help to keep everyone moving.

So, what’s so special about this weekend? Whether it’s going to a park or beach along Lake Washington to watch the air show, heading to see Sue Bird in her last regular season game in her illustrious career or taking a boat out to a nearby marina, there will be much heavier traffic compared to typical weekends.

And this isn’t just any Seafair: the sunny, warm forecast and the return of the popular Blue Angels after a three-year hiatus means this year’s event will look a lot more like the ones from before the COVID-19 pandemic. That means very large crowds expected all along the lakeshore, and lots of folks driving to nearby parks and boat launches – and longer travel times.

And we have construction on I-5 that needs to continue this weekend as well to ensure it’s completed before the fall.

So, it’s going to be a challenging travel weekend. And that’s why we are telling everyone heading out to plan ahead and adjust travel plans if they can. That may include taking public transit, setting up carpools or planning to leave earlier than normal if you absolutely must travel.

The Blue Angels perform during the 2019 Seafair Air Show

I-90 floating bridge open all weekend

It’s the question that gets asked every year around Seafair weekend: Will the I-90 floating bridge between Seattle and Mercer Island be closed in both directions during the Boeing Seafair Air Show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon?

Good news for drivers, it will not be closed. Like the summer of 2019, the I-90 floating bridge will be open in both directions all day, every day this Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 7. The flight path for the Blue Angels, F35 Lightning II and Growler has changed and does not require a bridge closure. The bike and pedestrian path on the north side of the bridge will also remain open.

Seafair festivities

In addition to the Blue Angels, there are other Seafair festivities around the Seattle area that will increase the number of vehicles using all directions on SR 99, I-5, and I-90 this weekend. They include:

  • Umoja Fest in Judkins Park in Seattle, on Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 7 from noon to 7 p.m. daily
  • Fleet Week on the Seattle Waterfront, on Monday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 7 from noon to 5 p.m. daily
  • Lake City Summer Festival and Parade in Seattle, on Northeast 125th Street just west of SR 522/Lake City Way Northeast, on Saturday, Aug. 6 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The Museum of Flight’s Jet Blast Bash in Seattle, on Saturday, Aug. 6 through Sunday, Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
  • Hydroplane races, a beach party, BMX stunt show, car show, and family fun zone in Genesee Park in Seattle, on Friday, Aug. 5 through Sunday, Aug. 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Seattle sports events

Most of Seattle’s professional sports teams also have events at stadiums in downtown Seattle that will bring large numbers of passionate fans with their vehicles to the streets this weekend.

  • The Seattle Mariners have four games at T-Mobile Park against the Los Angeles Angels. Friday, Aug. 5 at 7:10 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 6 at 1:10 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 7 at 1:10 p.m.
  • Sue Bird’s final regular season game in her legendary WNBA career will be at the forefront of the sold-out Seattle Storm game against the Las Vegas Aces at Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday, Aug. 7 at noon.
  • The Seattle Seahawks have a training camp mock-game at Lumen Field on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 2:30 p.m. at Lumen Field.
  • Megan Rapinoe and the OL Reign have a home match against the Houston Dash on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3 p.m.

Revive I-5 southbound lane reductions

Even with all the events this weekend, we still need to do Revive I-5 work on the southbound freeway near the I-90 interchange.

We know. Summer construction is frustrating and even more so on a big event weekend. But this work is important for safety and long-term life of the interstate and can only be done during warm, dry summer months. So far, 24 expansion joints have already been replaced, but we’re only about halfway done when it comes to the number of weekends we need to finish the work – so we can’t delay the work, even with all the events bringing people to town.

Three right lanes of I-5 south will close where the collector/distributor rejoins mainline I-5 from 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5 through 5 a.m. Monday, Aug 8. This will require several changes:

  • The collector/distributor ramp to southbound I-5 will be closed. People will be able to enter the collector/distributor, but must use one of the exits, which include I-90, Dearborn Street, Fourth Avenue South and Airport Way.
  • People will be able to use the on-ramp from James Street into the collector/distributor, but they will have to use one of the exits.
  • The Forest Street off-ramp will be closed.
  • The Spring Street on-ramp will be closed.
  • The eastbound and westbound I-90 ramps to southbound I-5 will remain open all weekend.
  • The express lanes will operate on their regular weekend schedule.

While we couldn’t cancel the work, with all the Seafair events, Mariners games and Seahawks event at Lumen Field, we did work with our contractor to find a way to keep the eastbound and westbound I-90 off-ramps to southbound I-5 open all weekend to help keep traffic flowing.

You can read more about the project on our I-5 - SB S Spokane St to I-90 W-S Ramp - Deck Overlay & Expansion Joints project page.

Before we go…

With all the above events happening throughout the weekend, travelers should plan on congestion for any weekend travel – even if you’re just running errands and avoiding the major events. That includes increased travel times on both directions of I-90 between Seattle and Mercer Island, and SR 99 and I-5 in Seattle.

The WSDOT real-time travel map can help plan your travels – or adjustments

Don’t forget to follow our WSDOT Traffic Twitter account for updates on any major traffic disruptions, and either visit our real-time travel map on our website or download our app to let you know which roads are most congested and alert you of any disruptions that may impede your progress.