24/7 Lane Closures On Westbound I-90: July 18th-25th, 2014–Planning, Persistence and Patience Required!

UPDATE on 7/22/14:
Hasn’t the commute between Seattle and Bellevue on I-90, both west and east bound, been amazing so far? Commuters listened, and a significant number have changed their routines for the lane closures on I-90. Below are two tweets shared today on the Washington Department of Transportation’s Twitter profile, @wsdot_traffic. Keep up the great work commuters!

closure on i90 wb from 405Much patience is going to be needed as drivers try to navigate from Bellevue to Seattle the week of July 18th to July 25th. Multiple lane closures westbound on I-90, from Bellevue to Mercer Island, will accommodate the replacement of the expansion joints on this stretch of road. Due to the scope of the project, the work is going to require round-the-clock lane closures for these 7 days. Below are the key points in the two stages of the construction project, per the WSDOT website:

Stage one:

  • The three left lanes of westbound I-90 on the East Channel Bridge closed from 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 18 to 5 a.m. Friday, July 25.
  • Westbound I-90 will narrow to one lane at approximately Bellevue Way S.E. and will widen to three lanes at the east end of the East Channel Bridge. The ramp from I-405 joins I-90 to create the second lane across the bridge. The ramp from Bellevue Way S.E. joins I-90 to create the third lane across the bridge.
  • The Bellevue Way S.E. HOV on-ramp to westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose ramp.
  • The southbound I-405 HOV ramp to westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the general purpose ramp.

Stage 2: (expected to occur midway through the seven-day closure)

  • The three right lanes of westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock for the remainder of the seven-day continuous closure, through Friday morning.
  • Westbound I-90 will narrow to one lane at approximately Bellevue Way S.E. and will widen to three lanes at the east end of the East Channel Bridge. The ramp from I-405 joins I-90 to create the second lane across the bridge. The ramp from Bellevue Way S.E. joins I-90 to create the third lane across the bridge.
  • The Bellevue Way general purpose on-ramp to westbound I-90 will be closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the HOV ramp.
  • The southbound I-405 HOV ramp to westbound I-90 closed around-the-clock. All drivers will use the HOV ramp.
  • The HOV lanes through the work zone will be open to all during construction and will be clearly marked.

Unfortunately, weekend closures are not appropriate for the scope of this road construction. The WSDOT put together a news release about this project, published on June 30, 2014. Drivers who utilize westbound I-90 to travel to Mercer Island or Seattle are encouraged to Know Before You Go And Have A Backup Plan. Check out the suggested alternatives and navigation tools outlined in the press release.

Alternatives to consider using during construction:

  • Choose an alternative travel mode such as car or vanpooling, public transportation, walking or cycling.
  • Set up a short-term Good to Go! account to use westbound SR 520 during the work.
  • Consider telecommuting.
  • Drivers heading westbound into Bellevue may want to consider exiting early and using surface streets to reach their destinations.
  • Allow plenty of extra time and expect additional congestion on alternate routes including SR 520 and surface streets.
  • Use westbound I-90 early in the morning or late at night.
  • Delay or reschedule discretionary trips.

Tools to help navigate the Eastside during the lane closures 7/18/14 to 7/25/14:

There will be additional pressure on the alternate routes around the Puget Sound Region. The tools outlined above should be extremely helpful to drivers as they plan day trips and embark on daily commutes. If you have suggestions on how to survive the expected congestion, we’d love to hear from you! Please share in the comment section below.

Westbound I-90 at East Channel Bridge – Animated Maps

UPDATE: The WSDOT Blog posted an I-90 Closure Survival Guide on July 9, 2014. From the Survival Guide:

If you don’t plan ahead, your typical commute could last an hour or more…taking an alternate route will help, but still add extra time to your trip because other routes will be affected with folks doing the same thing. If you can telework, or even take a vacation, this would be the week to do it.

When we had two lanes closed on westbound I-90 floating bridge in July 2009, we saw up to 7-mile backups, but we had the express lanes to help. On this closure we do not. Congestion could be much worse this time around….To keep delays from really getting horrible, we need at least 60 percent of drivers to adjust their plans. We recognize that’s a lot to ask, but every person who can change their plans helps.

Oh my! By planning ahead, utilizing alternate routes and practicing patience with our fellow drivers, we’ll get through this together. What are your plans for July 18th-25th, I-90 westbound commuters and Mercer Island residents?

UPDATE, TAKE 2: To add to the carmageddon fun, it appears that President Obama is expected to visit the Seattle and the Eastside on Tuesday, July 22nd. Are your vacation plans cemented yet? Telecommuting, anyone? Oh boy…

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