First weekend of summer to put heat on Seattle drivers

SEATTLE - Before runners take their mark, drivers may want to take their keys - and bury them.

Transportation analysts are warning of heavy delays this weekend, with several major highway closures, a marathon drawing about 25,000 runners, and an annual summer festival all planned for Saturday and Sunday.

"There's no good weekend to close any of the major roads, however, it's not Seafair. It's not the 4th of July," said Ian Sterling, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation. "Yes there are some events in town, so you just have to plan ahead."

Major highway closures include northbound SR 99 from South Spokane Street to Valley Street, including the Viaduct and the Battery Street Tunnel. SR 520 will also be closed between Montlake Boulevard and Interstate 405.

Both highways close Friday night as part of long-term replacement projects. They are expected to reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, WSDOT said.

"We know this is an inconvenience to drivers and we just, beg, actually, for their patience," Sterling added.

On top of construction closures, a number of downtown streets will be closed Saturday, along with the I-90 express lanes, as 25,000 runners take part in the annual Rock n' Roll Marathon Seattle.

"Look, it's not like we have these every weekend at home, so I think most of the local community embraces it," said Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno, who is running this year's race. "When the traffic is bad in Seattle, it's really, really bad, so just stop, get out and just cheer on."

Saturday also marks the annual Solstice Parade in Fremont, which shuts down a number of streets in the area.

A number of construction closures are tentatively planned for next weekend, including a full closure of the SR 520 floating bridge and two lanes of I-5 northbound, Sterling said. Seattle PrideFest is also scheduled for the same weekend, along with a weekend of Mariners home games.

"Obviously, there is no good weekend throughout the entire summer in Seattle to close down any major road, but a lot of this construction activity is weather-dependent," Sterling added. "We have to get out there and do it now. We do this on weekends because there are fewer people out, regardless of events."