Holiday travelers: Prepare for westbound I-90 delays to Seattle on Sunday

  • BY Wire Service
  • Thursday, July 2, 2009 8:21pm
  • News

Drivers face additional delays and will see some big changes on I-90 starting Sunday afternoon as they return from their Fourth of July vacations. Crews will close the westbound lanes of I-90 from Mercer Island to Seattle to get ready for major work on the floating bridge.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, July 5, only one westbound lane of I-90 will be open heading into Seattle. This construction closure compounds holiday mountain pass traffic, which is expected to be thick with drivers coming home from east of the Cascades.

“If drivers can return to this side of the mountains before 4 p.m. on Sunday, they’ll avoid the additional westbound delays caused by the construction,” WSDOT Assistant Regional Administrator Russ East said. “At 4 p.m. we narrow the I-90 floating bridge to just one lane. After that, drivers traveling to the city should plan for delays and consider taking alternate routes across the lake, like SR 520.”

If westbound I-90 backups extend too far on Sunday afternoon, drivers can consider taking SR 202 to Redmond, SR 900 to Renton, or SR 18 to Maple Valley. During construction, drivers can get the latest closure and traffic delay information on our What’s Happening Now page:

By starting construction the afternoon of July 5, holiday drivers have most of the day to get back home to the Puget Sound area from Eastern Washington. After 4 p.m., crews must quickly restripe the westbound I-90 lanes in time for the Monday morning commute, when the first of up to 70,000 daily westbound drivers will be funneled into the express lanes.

I-90 closures include:

* Sunday, July 5: At 1 a.m., the I-90 express lanes will be closed.

* Sunday, July 5: At 4 p.m., only one westbound I-90 lane will be open from Mercer Island to Seattle. Expect westbound delays.

* Sunday, July 5: From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday, the I-90 bicycle pedestrian path will close for construction.

* Monday, July 6: By 5 a.m., all westbound I-90 traffic funneled into the two I-90 express lanes on Mercer Island. Expect severe delays.

* Monday, July 20: All lanes reopen in time for the commute.

Severe traffic delays:

Work to remove and replace cracked expansion joints on the floating bridge starts Monday. All westbound I-90 traffic will be funneled into the express lanes for two weeks. Severe traffic delays are expected heading into Seattle weekday mornings and evenings.

Travel times of 30-60 minutes or more are predicted on I-90 from Bellevue to Seattle, and longer from Issaquah. Eastbound traffic also faces commute delays in the evening because the I-90 express lanes will be carrying only westbound traffic.

Beating the backups during I-90 construction

Each of the alternate routes across and around Lake Washington is congested, and drivers should plan extra time for their commutes starting July 6.

The best bets include traveling I-90 westbound before 6 a.m. or avoiding traveling during peak commute times. Sharing the ride, using transit, working from home and taking a vacation all are ways some drivers can consider to beat backups and cut down on congestion.

Commuters also can ride a bike on the I-90 floating bridge bike path, which includes two temporary bridges built around the construction zone. The Cascade Bicycle Club is sponsoring bike pilots to guide commuters and has a “Bridging with Bikes” programs on July 10 and 17. More details are at their Web site,

WSDOT is replacing cracked expansion joints on westbound I-90 and the express lanes across the floating bridge. Engineers are concerned the joints could pose a safety concern if not replaced. WSDOT replaced the joints in the express lanes from May 4-16. For more information, please visit

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