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Originally published July 17, 2014 at 10:15 PM | Page modified July 19, 2014 at 11:42 PM

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Commuting during I-90 work: traffic experts’ suggestions

Area traffic experts weigh in on what they would do if they had to commute on I-90 while the westbound lanes on the East Channel Bridge are under construction.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Helpful links

WSDOT’s “survival guide” blog

Projected travel times

Animation of what traffic will look like during lane closure

How to ride Metro

How to set up a Good to Go! toll account for Highway 520

State Department of Transportation

Reader Comments
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@Scrumdog1 Probably more than you think. The ride from downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle is 10.4 miles. Someone... MORE
"This is one of the great advantages to building biking and walking space on major freeway bridges: It gives people... MORE
@Scrumdog1 Seriously? It definitely would be an alternative for anyone living west of 405. As I said above, if it is... MORE

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Nearly 85,000 drivers cross the East Channel Bridge on Interstate 90 every day, which means thousands will be trying to find alternate routes to avoid major backups as construction continues this week in the westbound lanes.

We asked some of this area’s experienced traffic watchers for advice:

Take Highway 405 south to Interstate 5

“My first choice would be to go south around Lake Washington via Highway 405 to northbound Interstate 5 (or Airport Way, depending on traffic) just because there’s more lanes to get cars through compared to Highway 522, Highway 520 or surface streets. But if I was feeling frisky, I’d dust off the bike and use the Interstate 90 bike path across the bridge.”

— Kimi Kline, 97.3 KIRO Radio traffic anchor

Take Highway 520 and pay the toll

“That’s a tough one, with no simple answers. Our corridors throughout Seattle metro are going to feel the pain. A few years ago L.A. had a major construction project, which they coined ‘Carmaggedon’. I think that’s fitting for us, too, in this case.

“I would have a ‘Good to Go’ pass, talk with my boss to stagger my work schedule, or telecommute, if possible. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for commuters to leave an hour or more earlier, given that’s what many people will do. But the catch here is — that will start the morning rush even earlier. I would stay plugged in to all available traffic resources from TV traffic reports, traffic apps/maps and WSDOT’s various platforms, to know what conditions are before leaving home.

“Despite the cost, I’d pay the toll and take Highway 520.”

— Paris Jackson, KOMO traffic anchor

Take a bus, but leave early

“Having seen this in 2009, and knowing there is less traffic earlier in the morning, I would definitely leave (my Eastside) home and take a bus at least an hour earlier than usual. If I lived in Seattle and worked on the Eastside, I’d try to adjust my trip earlier, too, and plan for a long ride. And probably Instagram out a bus selfie on the lake because after slogging through the backup, it’ll feel great to be cranking along at 60 mph.”

— Jeff Switzer, Metro Transit spokesman

Dust off your bike

“This is one of the great advantages to building biking and walking space on major freeway bridges: It gives people another option for getting where they need to go during road work or other traffic backups.”

— Tom Fucoloro, Seattle Bike Blog

Check traffic conditions before you go

“My advice is to really consider carpooling or if possible changing up your work schedule. I know that’s not possible for a lot of people! So if it were me, I’d check all the media outlets: Twitter, Facebook and our Seattle traffic app and make a decision from there. Is it worth sitting in miles of backup on Interstate 90 or worth paying the toll across Highway 520 for an easier drive and a lot less frustration?

“This project will impact surface streets through Bellevue, Factoria and really put a struggle on both directions of Highway 405.

“My best advice is to know before you go.

“For me though, it’s a game-time decision. I always check the conditions before I go and determine my route depending on what the traffic is.”

— Tracy Taylor, KING 5 traffic anchor

Leave the car at home (or just stay home)

“If I had my druthers, I would telecommute or take a bike, if those were reasonable. I would try to forgo the car.”

— Kris Olsen, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com



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