WSDOT: Expect 10-mile backups in I-90 lane closures

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 10 at 11:34 PM

Starting 9:30 pm on July 18, the Washington State Department of Transportation is narrowing I-90 westbound from four lanes to just one near Bellevue Way for a full week.

The work to replace 33-year-old expansion joints comes at a tough time for drivers.

"Even if you don’t use I-90, don’t think you’re not going to be affected," said WSDOT spokeswoman Kris Olsen.

During the lane closures there is a Sounders game, a Mariners home stand and the Bite of Seattle, leaving drivers wondering which way to turn.

"I imagine it will be a nightmare," said Nate Brown, who commutes to Seattle from the Eastside.

Transportation officials say even if 60% of the 85,000 cars and trucks that pass through the area every day do something different, the back-up could still stretch about 10 miles east to Issaquah. That will put pressure on I-5 and alternate routes 520 and 405.

That has a lot of people wondering why the state transportation commission has no plans to suspend or lower the tolls on 520 during that week.

If you want to contact the transporation commission on this issue, email them at transc@wstc.wa.gov.

Related: Download the KING 5 traffic app

Related: 3 big events happening during closure: Why now?

Related: Road rage a concern during closure

DOT officials say they chose that seven-day stretch because it was the best possible option. Seafair is the next week. There are continuing 520 closures to build a new floating bridge. There is also the issue of birds that weren't concerned with human schedules.

"We had to wait until some Peregrine falcons that nest on the bridge were gone. They don't do that until mid-July, so we couldn't do anything earlier than that," said Olsen.   

The weather will be warm and officials warn people to make sure they always have enough gas and that their cooling systems are in good shape. The Washington State Patrol is urging drivers not to get hot under the collar, and will be watching for potential road rage. There will also be two extra road crews working the highway to clear stalls, breakdowns and accidents, but they can only do so much.

"They only have one lane going through there so if there is a breakdown it could shut the whole road down," said the DOT's Chris Webb.

 

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