520 Traffic Faster, Lighter In First Daily Commute

WSDOT says drive times in both directions were 5-7 minutes faster during Tuesday morning's commute. Drive times and volumes were longer and heavier on alternative routes to the north and south.

The first regular commute on the State Route 520 Bridge since tolls were instituted showed a significant decrease in traffic as many drivers on Tuesday morning used alternatives to the north and south, the state reported.

Travel times in both directions between Seattle and Bellevue on 520 decreased between five and seven minutes from typical morning commute rates, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said in a news release.

At the same time, drive times and volume increased in both directions on the Interstate 90 Bridge to the south, as well as in the westerly direction on State Route 522 on the north, WSDOT reported.

“It appears that a good number of people who typically take the 520 bridge across Lake Washington are exploring their alternatives,” said State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We saw heavier traffic on I-90 and SR 522 than we typically see during morning rush hour, and we are hearing from our transit partners that many commuters took the bus. We’ll be closely watching the evening commute, which is expected to be heavier as drivers choose alternate routes to avoid the SR 520 toll.”

Electronic , just before New Year’s weekend, to generate revenue for the bridge’s planned replacement. Tuesday morning marked the first regular commute since.

Here’s what WSDOT found:

SR 520

  • Westbound SR 520 from Bellevue to Seattle was five to seven minutes faster. Traffic volumes dropped by 45 percent from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Typical travel times are 15-20 minutes. Volumes edged up a bit in the 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. hour after a disabled semi-truck blocked one lane on westbound I-90 on Mercer Island and pushed drivers to SR 520.
  • Eastbound SR 520 from Seattle to Bellevue was five to seven minutes faster. Traffic volumes dropped by 35 percent. Typical travel times are 12-20 minutes.


  • Drivers used I-90 as an alternative to SR 520. Westbound I-90 traffic increased 25 percent until the disabled semi-truck blocked one lane on Mercer Island. During the incident, traffic dropped eight percent below average. Travel times increased by 15 minutes during the incident.     
  • Eastbound I-90 traffic increased by 20 percent and travel times averaged 4 minutes longer. Typical travel times are 10-16 minutes.

SR 522

  • On SR 522 from SR 202 in Woodinville to downtown Seattle, westbound traffic took about five minutes longer than usual during the morning commute, and congestion was heavier and started earlier than normal. There was no change in travel times on eastbound SR 522.

-- Information from the Washington State Department of Transportation



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