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Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Here and Now

Fleet Week

The Seafair fleet — including three U.S. Navy ships and about 1,000 enlisted sailors — is in town for Seafair. The traditional Parade of Ships along downtown Seattle's waterfront takes place today between 1 and 2 p.m., headed north across Elliott Bay. The central point is Pier 66.

This year's Navy cortege is the smallest in recent years as a result of Navy involvement in other parts of the world. Here this year are two guided-missile destroyers and one amphibious transport dock ship. The ships will be berthed at piers 90 and 91 and will be open for public tours starting Thursday morning and continuing daily through Sunday.

Security will be tight. Private boaters are advised to stay at least 500 yards away from the Navy vessels. The Coast Guard and Seattle police boats are helping maintain a security zone around the ships.

All public tours of Navy ships are conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Information about public tours of the visiting Navy vessels is online at https://www.cnrnw.navy.mil/portvisit/html/seafair.asp.

U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy ships also are along the waterfront for Seafair Fleet Week. Also in town is the Navy Region Northwest Band, which will be performing on the Bell Harbor rooftop at Pier 66 at 1 p.m. today.

Blue Angels arrival

The Navy's Blue Angels will be arriving about 2 p.m. today at the Museum of Flight near Boeing Field. The public will not be allowed close to the planes but can watch them touch down.

Bridge closure reminder

Metro and Sound Transit buses usually routed across Interstate 90's floating bridge will be rerouted during bridge closures Thursday through Sunday onto Highway 520.

Complying with Federal Aviation Administration rules, the state Department of Transportation will close all lanes of the I-90 floating bridge across Lake Washington for a few hours each day while the Navy's Blue Angels squadron jets are aloft for practices and weekend air shows for Seafair.

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I-90's mainline and express lanes across Lake Washington will be closed to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists at times throughout the four-day period.

The closures will extend from Interstate 5 in Seattle to Island Crest Way on Mercer Island and will include the entire length of the I-90 reversible center roadway.

Thursday, the bridge will be closed from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the bridge will be closed from 12:45 to 2:40 p.m.

The express lanes will close at 9 a.m. Thursday and 9:45 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also, the bridge will be closed to pedestrians and bicyclists up to 30 minutes before posted closure times.

The exits from westbound I-90 to Island Crest Way and East Mercer Way on Mercer Island will remain open, although drivers should note that heavy congestion because of the closures will restrict access to the exits.

Some I-90 ramps will likely close a half-hour before bridge closures, depending on congestion. They are East Mercer Way to west I-90, 76th Avenue Southeast to west I-90, West Mercer Way to west I-90 and east I-90 to West Mercer Way.

With Mariners games scheduled at 1:05 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, fans who rely on the bridge to get into town should plan ahead with the closure schedule in mind.

Drivers planning to cross the lake on I-90 should plan to make the trip at least one hour before scheduled closures.

By closing I-90, the Department of Transportation is complying with FAA rules to create a safer environment for drivers and Blue Angels pilots by reducing distractions.

No stopping or parking will be allowed on the I-90 bridge or Highway 520's Evergreen Point Floating Bridge during Blue Angels practices or performances.

Here & Now is compiled by Seattle Times staff reporter Charles E. Brown and news assistant Suesan Whitney Henderson. To submit an item, e-mail herenow@seattletimes.com or call 206-464-2226.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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