Westbound I-90 at Bellevue Way and Highway 99 at South Lake Union are slowed by lane closures this weekend. But some work on Aurora Avenue finished Saturday night, opening up lanes to general traffic and buses earlier than expected.
After a week of rain and road congestion, Seattle and Bellevue drivers will have to muddle through a pair of lane closures from Friday night until early Monday.
• Westbound Interstate 90 will be reduced to one lane at the Bellevue shore of Lake Washington near the East Channel Bridge, where traffic into Seattle will be funneled into the express lanes. Drivers going onto Mercer Island must exit at East Mercer Way.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) says it’s halfway through its three dozen closures of mainline lanes, for contractors to upgrade lights, cameras and fire systems within the Mount Baker tunnel and Mercer Island lid. That will allow bus-carpool lanes to be added before the express lanes are taken over for Sound Transit rail construction next year. The detours are from 11 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday.
• Aurora Avenue North will be narrowed to one lane in each direction, between the Aurora Bridge and South Lake Union. Workers are installing sign foundations and wiring in the median to support future toll devices and signs for the Highway 99 tunnel. That lane closure is from 8 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday.
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[Update: WSDOT reported Saturday night that work was completed early, and that for the rest of the weekend, just one lane in each direction would remain closed between Highland Drive, just north of Mercer Street, and the Aurora Bridge. On Sunday, King County Metro Transit plans to return bus routes 5, 16 and RapidRide E their to regular routes on Aurora Avenue North.]
Transportation managers planned for the westbound I-90 work to coincide with the Aurora lane closure, spokeswoman Annie Johnson said. If the state were to delay eastbound I-90 this weekend, the cars leaving Seattle would jam on Interstate 5 and aggravate other drivers using I-5 to bypass the Aurora mess.
WSDOT is finishing its first week of a seven-week project on Aurora, during which there will be additional night and weekend restrictions to one travel lane each way. On weekdays, one lane each way is closed — so traffic shares the southbound bus lane.
One more travel inconvenience: Amtrak and Sounder commuter trains are under a 48-hour shutdown until at least 10 a.m. Saturday after a mudslide Thursday in the Blue Ridge area of Seattle.