Thursday, June 1, 2023

Why there will probably be roadwork during the event you’re going to this summer

By Mike Allende

It’s our most common question during the busy summer construction season: “Why did you have to do this work when (Fill in the blank MAJOR EVENT!!!) was happening??!!!”

Fair question, with a pretty easy, basic answer. There are ALWAYS major events happening in the summer. It’s virtually impossible to find a weekend – heck, even a day – when there isn’t a game, concert, festival or event going on. It’s one of the things that makes our state a great place to live or visit, but it also makes doing road work and getting around challenging.

With 116 projects scheduled this summer – not counting day-to-day maintenance, emergencies and local city and county projects – there is a lot to get done in a short timeframe. You can learn more about what to expect in this blog.

Much of the work that you see happen in the summer can only happen when we have reliably dry weather, as we need those conditions to do extensive work with concrete. That’s a pretty small window in this part of the country in which to try to squeeze a lot of work in. It also happens to coincide when almost every professional sports team is active, when we get a huge influx of concerts and when we have major events and festivals like Seafair, Fourth of July, Bumbershoot and many more. That’s not to mention the hundreds of smaller events scattered throughout the season.

With many major events – highlighted by the Major League Baseball All Star Game at T-Mobile Park in July – roads will be packed with people trying to get around.

Of the 153 days between May 1 and Sept. 30 – what we’ll consider the prime construction season – there are just 23 days with no major events happening, and only one weekend day with nothing going on. Again, these are just major events, not counting the many parades, community festivals and other events that, for their particular area, also bring in plenty of traffic.

This also isn’t taking into account October, when we’re often trying to squeeze in some final work when we can at the same time the Seahawks, Huskies and Cougars are playing football, and the Kraken, Storm, Sounders and hopefully Mariners are also playing.

Here is a look at the special events calendars for our state from June through September to give you an idea of why it’s nearly impossible to avoid events. These are through mid-May, so other concerts and events may be announced as we move through spring and summer.

While we try to avoid special events when we can, realistically, it’s pretty impossible to do so and still finish all of the work that has to get done in this short time frame. There isn’t enough time simply working overnight for large areas of concrete to set and be ready to open by the next day. We all go to the games, shows and events just like everyone else, and we face the same travel challenges. If there were ways to avoid it, we would.

So, knowing that there will absolutely be disruptions to your travel, especially on weekends, what can you do to prepare for it?

  • Know what’s happening. We try to full-court press information, especially for busy weekends, so that people at least know what they have to prepare for. From social media, to updating our website and app, to working with local media to get word out, we have lots of ways for people to know what’s happening. Check out this webpage where you can find info about our app, social media tools and other ways to stay engaged (scroll to the bottom and you can also find a link to sign up for email/text alerts).
  • Familiarize yourself with transit. Whether it’s buses, bicycling, Link Light Rail, the Sounder train, Amtrak Cascades, even organizing carpools, there are lots of alternative ways to get around. One great thing to keep in mind for people going to Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle: Every ticket to an event at the venue is also a transit pass.
  • Consider signing up for a Good To Go! It’s handy if you’ll use the SR 520 bridge or the SR 99 tunnel into/out of Seattle, or I-405 to avoid heavy I-5 traffic, or possibly SR 167 to go to the Puyallup Fair or White River Amphitheater, or of course the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Having a Good To Go! pass will also save you money and ensure you pay the lowest toll rate on all these roads. You can sign up or get more information on our website.
  • Be prepared. It could be slow-going, so be sure your vehicle has enough gas, is in good working order, you have drinks/snacks, warm clothes/blanket (just in case!) and any other supplies you might need if you get stuck for a long time.
Roadwork will affect most parts of the state this summer, whether it’s getting to
events in Seattle or concerts at the Gorge.

As we’ve said, we know added delays getting to big events or summer trips isn’t fun. We’re working to minimize the effects where we can but thank you for also doing your part in helping keep everyone moving this summer.


Bob said...

Do you have an estimated duration or dates yet for the September closure to shift Montlake Blvd back onto its final path? We have so far only been told "September" but I haven't seen details online beyond that. Thanks!

WSDOT said...

Thanks for the question. We still can't pinpoint the day or weekend Montlake Blvd. will be 100% finished – but there is some good news. On July 24, after a 10-day closure, Montlake will be shifted back to its original location.

Crews still need to do a lot of work to add finishing touches, but Montlake Blvd will be well on its way come July 24.

Bob said...

Thanks very much for the response. I had actually misunderstood the project schedule that's published online, and thought the "shift" was not happening until September, but then I talked with one of the workers this weekend (and noticed that the shifted road had been completely torn up!) and learned that this big milestone is happening right now. So I have to say I'm excited and pleased about how fast this is all happening. Looking forward to seeing the final finished and landscaped lid later this year. Thanks again.

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