I-5 closes 2-3 times a night because of protests - allow extra time for travel through Seattle

Friday, June 26, 2020

By Diane Hettrick

WSDOT reports that "At times we have had to close the I-5 express lanes and mainline in Seattle, resulting in some lengthy travel delays."

It is more like a revolving door with closing and opening - closing and opening - nearly every night.

There's an automated system that reports freeway conditions after hours. It's programmed to call everything an "incident" so it was almost a week before the spokesperson was on shift and reporting live. He named it a protest - not an incident.

I sent a photographer to get photos of people on the freeway. He couldn't find any activity in spite of closures that evening. He discovered that WSDOT and the state patrol apparently close the freeway as a precaution, if it looks like someone is even headed that direction.

Thursday night, June 25, there were protesters actually on the freeway because the state patrol sent out a notice. 

#Breaking. An SUV ran through the closure from Dearborn to NB-5 and nearly hit protestors. Anyone with info call the State Patrol.

As we previously reported, the I-5 express lanes close at 8pm on weekdays. On weekends the closures are at the request of the Washington State Patrol, in order to keep all people safe during the demonstrations in the city.

Because conditions can change quickly, people traveling should also plan for the possibility of the closure of I-5 between SR 520 and I-90, if protests approach the freeway.

The closures last from 20 minutes to two hours. For example, on Tuesday, June 16:
  • 7pm Tuesday, June 16 - Both directions of I-5 closed in Seattle; express lanes closed
  • 8pm Tuesday, June 16 - Both directions of I-5 now open in Seattle
  • 8:55pm Tuesday, June 16 - All lanes of I-5 are closed in downtown Seattle
  • 9:45pm Tuesday, June 16 - All lanes of I-5 are now open in downtown Seattle

When the southbound lanes are closed, traffic is diverted over the 520 bridge to Bellevue, so you'll have quite a detour.

However, apparently some vehicles are able to exit at Roanoke which puts them on Seattle surface streets.

Here are some "Know before you go" resources - but they're not much help if you are already approaching Roanoke.

Just be prepared for longer than the normal amount of travel time and the possibility of detouring to Bellevue.

Updated: possible to exit on Roanoke St.


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