During the first of three closures on southbound Interstate 405 last weekend (Aug. 8-10) to remove the Wilburton Tunnel, travelers did their part to plan ahead and find alternate routes. The challenge for next weekend will be to do it again.
Crews working for the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) closed southbound I-405, from Southeast Eighth Street to Interstate 90, from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. The next closure starts this Friday (Aug. 15) at 11 p.m. and runs until 5 a.m. Monday (Aug. 18). The third closure runs Aug. 22-25.
Last weekend, southbound I-405 carried two-thirds fewer vehicles than on an average weekend. And, while Bellevue experienced 30 percent more traffic on Bellevue Way, the main detour route, city streets remained open.
This weekend, there will again be a variety of ways into and out of the city. Some of the options include:
- All southbound ramps into Bellevue from I-405 (Northeast Eighth, Northeast Sixth, Northeast Fourth and Southeast Eighth streets) will remain open during the demolition.
- From the Northeast (Redmond/Woodinville area), motorists are encouraged to use Bel-Red Road/Northeast 12th Street, Northup Way or either 148th or 140th avenues to Northeast Eighth Street into downtown.
- Motorists coming from areas north of State Route 520 and west of I-405 could use Lake Washington Boulevard and Bellevue Way into downtown.
- Motorists traveling from areas east of I-405 have their selection of any of these major arterials -- 116th Avenue, 140th Avenue, 148th Avenue to Northup Way, Bel-Red Road or Northeast Eighth Street into downtown.
Traffic managers suggest the following tips to help ease travel during the closures: Instead of driving alone, take a bus, carpool or ride a bike. If you must travel, plan ahead, use recommended detours, expect delays and avoid the interchange at SR 520 and I-405. Travelers to Bellevue should take major local streets and avoid the freeways. From downtown Bellevue, headed south, take major local roads to I-90.
Removal of the Wilburton Tunnel, through which the southbound lanes of I-405 passed, between downtown and I-90, is part of WSDOT's I-405 South Bellevue Widening Project, designed to help relieve congestion on one of the region’s busiest stretches of highway. The tunnel must be removed to make room for two new lanes of roadway.
Bellevue's Traffic Advisories offer more information about getting around the city.
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