Fortunately, some I-405 construction will be done
The closure of up to three lanes along northbound Interstate 5, just south of I-90, won’t just impact drivers in Seattle. Motorists heading north on I-405 through Bellevue also will feel the effects as people seek alternate routes around the construction work.
State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) planners expect typical morning congestion on I-405 to extend throughout the day as a result of the closure.
WSDOT will close up to three lanes on a 1.1-mile stretch of northbound I-5 for 19 days, starting at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, through Aug. 29. Crews will work around the clock to replace expansion joints and repave the highway from South Spokane Street to I-90.
What’s not clear is just how many vehicles will spill onto I-405, since such a closure has never been tried before. To cope with potential delays, WSDOT officials are calling upon motorists to make contingency plans in the event of “extreme congestion” on I-405. Drivers on westbound I-90 also are urged to do the same.
Suggested contingency plans in case of long backups include telecommuting to work and using the closure as an opportunity to try the bus, form a carpool, join a van pool or ride a bike.
“It’s imperative that people avoid travel if possible or find an alternative to driving if they can,” Bellevue Transportation Director Goran Sparrman said. “If we don’t commute smart, we could experience a 19-day traffic nightmare.”
For its part, WSDOT will staff its traffic systems management center with extra workers and will provide frequent updates of traffic conditions via radio, Web site and electronic signs.
WSDOT also will suspend daytime lane closures related to its I-405 South Bellevue Widening project during the I-5 closure. The DOT aims to wrap up night-time lane closures on I-405 before the I-5 closure begins:
On an average weekday, approximately 70,000 vehicles travel northbound on I-405 approaching I-90, according to WSDOT. Planners estimate about 65,000 trips will be diverted from I-5 as a result of the closure, but they do not anticipate a substantial proportion of those will use I-405 as an alternative. They are also encouraging I-5 motorists to avoid driving or to find alternate modes of travel.
I-5 buses can take more riders
Neither King County Metro nor Sound Transit plan to increase the number of buses in service during the closure, but a Metro spokeswoman said there is plenty of extra capacity, for about 3,000 additional riders, on buses serving the I-5 corridor. Sound Transit will add one additional Sounder Commuter Train in the morning and in the afternoon between Seattle and Puyallup.
For more about the I-5 closure, its impacts, commute options and other information, visit the following websites:
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