Boat Parade May Clog Roads -- Alternate Routes Suggested To Avoid Crowds, Closures

Colliding cultures could make the Montlake area a good place to avoid driving near tomorrow.

Of course, if you like boats, by all means show up along the Montlake Cut, since it's Opening Day of the boating season.

Depending on the weather, an estimated 250,000 people are expected to be around Montlake to watch the boat parade.

About 4,000 boats also usually join a spectator fleet in an event held annually since 1913.

But if you just want to drive someplace, it'd be wise to try an alternate route.

Besides Opening Day, construction closures are scheduled on both Highway 520 and I-5 overnight tomorrow, so traffic jams could ensue.

Most of the traffic problems could be caused by conflicts between the marine activity and usual highway traffic, however.

For six hours tomorrow, two exits off Highway 520, the Evergreen Floating Bridge route, will be restricted because of Opening Day.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the exit from westbound 520 to Montlake Boulevard East will be closed completely. On eastbound 520 during the same time, the exit to Montlake Boulevard East will only allow right turns at the end of the exit to southbound lanes.

During the closure, westbound 520 drivers will be able to get to the Montlake area by using the Lake Washington Boulevard exit.

The exits are being closed to divert traffic from the Montlake Bridge to allow the boating parade to take place. The bridge has to be raised to allow sailboats with tall masts to pass through the Montlake Cut from Portage Bay to Union Bay on Lake Washington.

The Montlake Bridge will be closed to all vehicle traffic from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., although the city Engineering Department says it could reopen earlier.

Later, beginning at midnight tomorrow and lasting until 10 a.m. Sunday, Highway 520 will be closed to all traffic from 92nd Avenue Northeast in Clyde Hill to Montlake Boulevard East in Seattle.

The bridge is being closed to allow work on its electrical system, which has malfunctioned twice in the past three years and was rewired about five months ago.

Also tomorrow night, beginning at 11 p.m. and lasting until 10 a.m. Sunday, the left and right northbound lanes of I-5 alternately will be closed under the Convention Center tunnel on I-5 in downtown Seattle so lights can be replaced.

For people interested in boats, the parade fleet will begin assembling in Portage Bay by about 8 a.m. tomorrow, formal Opening Day ceremonies begin at 9:05 a.m. on the lawn of the Seattle Yacht Club.

University of Washington crew races will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Montlake Cut.

The boat parade begins at noon and officially lasts until 2 p.m. Closing ceremonies are scheduled at the yacht club at 6 p.m.