People heading to Western Washington today should plan on extra time for their trip – lots of it.
Interstate 90 will be reduced from three to just one westbound lane from the summit of Snoqualmie Pass to the Tinkham Road interchange, a distance of about two miles.
The closure is necessary to clear debris and stabilize a rock wall that collapsed Sunday, killing three people.
The bad news for travelers is that the worst of the backups is expected this morning, just as many people will be heading to Washington State University’s football game at Qwest Field against Grambling State University. That game starts at 4 p.m.
Seattle also will host the Idaho Vandals game against the University of Washington Huskies at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Sunday, when the Seahawks play the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. in Seattle, is also expected to be a bad travel day.
Transportation officials are warning of delays as long as three hours. They’re urging drivers either to head out very early with full fuel tanks and plenty of supplies or to take alternate routes over the Cascades.
For Spokane residents, Highway 2 over Stevens Pass is probably the best bet. Alternatives include Highway 12 over White Pass and Highway 410 over Chinook Pass.
“Half of the normal westbound Sunday travelers have to be gone from I-90, or we will have a major breakdown of the system,” warned Don Whitehouse, the Yakima regional administrator for the Washington state Department of Transportation, in a Friday press release.
To complicate matters, the I-90 floating bridge into Seattle will be closed for weight tests from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. tonight and possibly Sunday night.
Flights on major airlines were pricey, and tickets were rapidly disappearing Friday.
For the work on I-90, crews will stabilize the rock wall by installing a 12-foot-tall fence, scraping off loose material and pounding on the wall to dislodge any large, unstable rock pieces. After that, 20- to 40-foot-long bolts will be installed.
The work will go on for at least two weeks, the state said.
Updated Washington traffic information is available by calling 511.
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