Plan ahead for construction, congestion this weekend in the Puget Sound area
SEATTLE – Expect region-wide congestion this weekend, July 8 through 11, as workers close State Route 520 between Montlake Boulevard in Seattle and Interstate 405 in Bellevue. Crews plan to install a fish-passable culvert beneath all lanes of the highway and conduct annual maintenance of the floating bridge. Also, the city of Seattle will close the Interstate 5 ramps to and from Mercer Street.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) encourages drivers to plan ahead when considering weekend travel. Take alternate routes, leave early, consider carpooling, take the bus or keep activities close to home. The longest delays are expected midday Saturday and Sunday on I-5 and I-90 heading into Seattle, and on I-405 approaching I-90. The express lane schedules will change this weekend on I-5 and I-90 to help improve traffic flow.
“We got help from drivers during last month’s closure, and we need their help again,” said Brian Dobbins, WSDOT construction engineer for the SR 520 Eastside Transit and HOV Project. “This is the second of up to six weekend-long closures on SR 520 between now and the end of the year. We can get a lot of work done in a weekend closure, like building huge fish-friendly culverts that span the entire highway.”
Crews plan to dig a trench across all lanes near 84th Avenue Northeast in Hunts Point for culvert installation. The culvert measures about 230 feet long and 12 feet wide. Environmental regulations allow WSDOT to work in or near streams only until mid-September to avoid harming migrating fish.
In addition to construction, WSDOT crews will inspect, test and weld parts of the floating bridge and drawspan all weekend to make needed repairs and ready the bridge for the next storm season, said Archie Allen, WSDOT bridge maintenance superintendent.
Special equipment will be used to scan for cracks in the bridge’s huge steel guide rollers. Based on the results of inspections, crews will have a few months to make any additional necessary repairs to bridge components before rough weather returns, Allen said.
· All on-ramps to SR 520 between Montlake Boulevard in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue will close at 11 p.m. Friday, July 8. All SR 520 ramps in the construction zone will remain closed during the weekend, except for the 108th Avenue Northeast on-ramp to eastbound SR 520.
· The SR 520 mainline – all lanes in both directions between Montlake Boulevard in Seattle and I-405 in Bellevue – will close from 11 p.m. Friday, July 8, to 5 a.m. Monday, July 11.
· Details of the closure and detour maps are online. Night work is planned, and neighbors near the work zone are likely to hear construction noise.
· SR 520 from I-5 to Montlake Boulevard will remain open to traffic.
Mercer Street ramps
· The city of Seattle is closing the I-5 on- and off-ramps at Mercer Street at 11 p.m. Friday, July 8, and reopening them at 5 a.m. Monday, July 11. Project information is on the Seattle website.
Special I-90 and I-5 express lane operations
Saturday, July 9
· The I-90 express lanes will be open westbound from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and eastbound after 2 p.m.
· The I-5 express lanes will be open southbound from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and then switch to northbound from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, July 10
· The I-90 express lanes will be open westbound from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, July 10, and eastbound after 2 p.m.
· The I-5 express lanes will be open southbound from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and northbound from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
· The typical express lane schedule is posted here, and this weekend’s altered schedule is posted here. Key alternate routes for drivers heading into Seattle from the south end include SR 509, SR 599, East Marginal Way South, Airport Way South and Fourth Avenue South.
SR 520 Eastside project overview
The Eastside Transit and HOV Project will widen SR 520 to six lanes from Medina to Bellevue. The project includes rebuilding interchanges, building highway lids and transit stops in the center of the highway and installing fish-passable culverts. WSDOT awarded the $306 million design-build contract to Eastside Corridor Constructors (ECC), a joint venture of Granite Construction Company and PCL Construction Services.
Complete SR 520 highway construction closures are limited to no more than 20 weekends during the next three years. The completed corridor is scheduled to open to traffic in December 2013.
Tools for drivers
· Seattle area traffic: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle/
· Traffic cameras: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/default.aspx
· Travel alerts: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/trafficalerts/
· Mountain Passes: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/
· Traffic products for your mobile phone and other wireless devices: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/seattle/products/
· Follow WSDOT on Twitter: @wsdot and @wsdot_traffic for Puget Sound traffic
· Call 511 for traffic updates
· Tune to highway advisory radio and watch electronic highway signs for information
More information about the project is online at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge/MedinaTo202/default.htm.