I-405 closures portend heavy I-5 traffic, surface street slowdown

by: Frank Field Updated:

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BELLEVUE, Wash —

Don’t plan to drive on northbound Interstate 405 through Bellevue this weekend. It’s going to be closed. And that could mean traffic trouble on surface streets in Bellevue and on I-5 in Seattle.

Starting Friday at 10 p.m., the Department of Transportation is going to close the 167 ramp to northbound I-405 near Renton to install a drainage pipe. And the agency will close northbound lanes of 405 through downtown Bellevue to do resurfacing. WSDOT is warning drivers to be prepared for 30- to 40-minute delays.

“Plan that extra time. Delay their discretionary trips if they can. Or consider using I-5 as an alternate northbound route,” said agency spokesperson Kris Olsen.

I-5 won’t be much of a haven for heavy-footed drivers, however. The Mariners are honoring Ken Griffey Jr. before their baseball game tomorrow night. Traffic could get slow by midday.

A month ago, the state closed I-405 for re-paving and it created half-hour delays on Bellevue surface streets.  Tracy Ganser plans to use alternate routes.

“You have to know the back roads to get around, navigate, or, you know, try not to go over that way,” Ganser said.

State officials will communicate with Bellevue city traffic engineers to tweak traffic lights and keep cars moving. But that’s little comfort to Joseph Cordero, who predicts driving misery this weekend.

“Everything is gonna come to a standstill. The surface streets are gonna be overloaded. People are gonna decide not to come to the stores or the mall or anything else,” Cordero said.

WSDOT says the work will, however, be a vast improvement over the current surface on 405.

 “It’s going to be so much smoother, you won’t be bouncing along and over it,” Olsen said.

I-405 will reopen in time for the commute early Monday morning.  Rain won’t stop it unless it turns into heavy downpours.  WSDOT will tweet and post updates on travel times throughout the weekend.