Paving project produces driving problems

by: Frank Field Updated:

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Drivers on Interstate 5 and Interstate 405 this weekend  expressed frustration with road work and drive times of an hour to cover less than 14 miles.

Work crews on I-405 northbound were tearing out old concrete in the northbound lanes through Bellevue. That meant the northbound lanes were closed from Southeast Eighth Street to almost the 520 bridge.

Jamie Terkla nearly ran out of gas driving from Burien to Bellevue to get to a doctor’s appointment. The trip that normally takes her 25 minutes, took 45.

“Meanwhile I’m just watching my gas tick down and I’m at one-eighth of a tank and my gas lights’ just like screaming at me. And I was like praying. You can actually track how many miles you have left on your tan, and I was praying I didn’t have to roll in here,” Terkla said while pumping gas at a filling station on Main.

She wound up missing her appointment. Other drivers we talked to said they planned to stay close to home.

“I’m just going to avoid it today. It’s just going to be easier to do things here in Bellevue and not get on 405,” said Ross Rogers of Bellevue.

Some of the traffic that would have been on 405 northbound was shunted over to I-5 northbound, which oozed slowly along. A pod of manatees with brake lights. The 14 miles between Renton and Seattle took an hour at midday.

Tourists Juan Monsalde and Ilka Andino from El Salvador, rented a car to see the sights in Seattle.  But they didn’t trust the long routes their GPS unit told them to expect.  So, they hired a cab, but not to ride in it. 

“We hired a taxi and followed it,” Andino said.

“We hired a taxi and followed it. Because we didn’t know where to go,” Monsalde added.

Even if you did, you weren’t getting there quickly.

“It used to be there was a so-called rush hour. And I don’t see a rush hour now, it seems to be, well, every hour,” said Tom Combs, of Bellevue.

WSDOT said this rough weekend of driving will lead to a smoother surface on I-405 when construction ends in time for the morning rush hour on Monday.