SEATTLE — The floating bridge on Interstate 90 will remain open for the Blue Angels practice and air show during Seafair this weekend.
Typically the Washington State Department of Transportation has had to close the floating bridge, because the Federal Aviation Administration requires a safety zone above and below the Blue Angels to protect the public, property, and the pilots.
However, the Blue Angels flight path was shifted south this year, and I-90 is now out of the restricted safety zone.
The change was made to prepare for upcoming light rail service on I-90, according to Seafair spokesperson Patrick Harrison. When light rail opens, WSDOT won’t be able to close the bridge as easily as the agency can now. The East Link light rail extension from Seattle’s International District to Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Redmond isn’t expected to open until 2023, but Harrison said organizers wanted to be prepared.
“We wanted to get the flight pattern done early,” said Harrison.
The new flight path is expected to be permanent, according to Harrison.
Seafair-goers can also be assured that the show will not be drastically different from previous years. Harrison said the flight pattern is only shifting slightly, and viewers will still be able to see the show from their favorite location.
“Anyone watching the show will not see a difference at all,” Harrison said.
Although the floating bridge will be open during the show, WSDOT warned that doesn’t give drivers license to watch the show from the bridge. I-90 is a heavily trafficked roadway, and it’s illegal to park in a lane or on the shoulder unless it’s an emergency, according to WSDOT.
Washington State Patrol is expected to conduct speed and distracted driving enforcement on the bridge during the show.
For the first time Seward Park will also remain open, although swimmers will be asked to leave the water. Seattle police officers are expected to be stationed at the park to ensure people stay on beaches.