SEATTLE — The Blue Angels are back for the big Seafair weekend. For decades, the show caused big backups, but this year’s flight plan is allowing the I-90 floating bridge over Lake Washington to be open for drivers.
People packed into a perfect viewing spot Thursday afternoon to see the sights and sounds of the Blue Angels during their practice flight. For some, it was their first time seeing the jets soar through the sky.
“It's awesome,” said Emmanuel Derouillat, who was watching the Blue Angels with his son Elliot. “You're kind of looking for them, and then all of a sudden they come from behind you. It's just kind of impressive.”
For others like Lance Riche, watching the Blue Angels has been a tradition since the ‘70s.
“I never get tired of it,” Richie said. “It’s something I love to come watch.”
The views are a little different this year, with jets soaring along with traffic on the I-90 floating bridge.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) opened the bridge in 2019, but for decades the bridge was closed during practice and performances.
Rich Flieger helped work on the bridge.
“We just finished the I-90 bridge floating, putting a light rail across it,” Flieger said.
For the first time, he got to witness the Blue Angels from a new vantage point.
“Nothing better than that. That is so cool,” said Flieger.
Some spectators prefer a different spot. Jeff Johnson has been coming to watch the Blue Angels for decades and wants the bridge to shut back down.
“Being able to walk out on the bridge allows you to have an uninterrupted view, and it’s really the best view in the house,” said Johnson.
Despite the I-90 bridge remaining open, Seafair goers still may have some traffic headaches with Revive I-5 work resuming in Seattle this weekend.
“We did adjust our schedule a little bit this weekend,” said WSDOT spokesperson Tom Pearce. “For example, keeping the I-90 ramps and the southbound I-5 open because that's going to be a big thing for people going to the hydro races and the Blue Angels.”
The WSDOT is focusing on expansion joints on the right side south of the collector/distributor.
People entering the collector/distributor will have to exit to I-90, Dearborn Street, Fourth Avenue South or Airport Way. The ramp from the collector/distributor to southbound I-5 will be closed. People using the southbound I-5 James Street on-ramp will need to use a collector/distributor exit. The Spring Street on-ramp and the South Forest Street off-ramp also will be closed.
The WSDOT is asking drivers to plan ahead this weekend and take alternate routes, including I-405.
With two years of no Blue Angels shows, spectators said you just have to be there.
“You can’t miss them,” said Johnson. “When they’re here, you gotta see them.”
The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is urging drivers using I-90 during the airshow to be attentive and not distracted. The state patrol is also reminding people that it is illegal to stop on the bridge to watch the show. The WSP will have extra troopers out to monitor the area.