Starting Tuesday, the Interstate 90 express lanes will open to westbound traffic at 6 a.m., five hours later than before, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Crews used to open the lanes at 1 a.m., but that was when it took two separate crews to switch both the Interstate 5 and I-90 express lanes, WSDOT said. Now that the I-5 lanes are automated, it will only take one crew to switch both. The same crew that performs a safety sweep of the I-5 lanes will also switch I-90.
“This change is going to free up workers to focus on high-priority roadway maintenance projects, like keeping our cameras, data stations and overhead signs working,” said WSDOT Regional Traffic Engineer Mark Leth. “This will make a huge difference for us in terms of efficiency.”
The change isn’t expected to affect traffic, WSDOT says: “Westbound I-90 traffic is very light early in the morning and traffic backups typically do not occur until well past 6 a.m. each morning.”
Here’s the new schedule:
Weekdays: The I-90 express lanes will open to westbound traffic from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The lanes will open to eastbound travel from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Weekend: The I-90 express lanes will open to eastbound traffic from 2 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. the following Monday. In the event of a large sporting event, such as a football game, the lanes’ schedule will be adjusted to accommodate the extra traffic coming into Seattle.
The I-90 express lanes extend from Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle to Interstate 405 in Bellevue and are open to high-occupant vehicles throughout its length and to single-occupant vehicles traveling between Island Crest Way on Mercer Island and Rainier Avenue in Seattle.