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Seattle weekend traffic: Don’t even try it

What’s blocking up traffic this weekend—and how to ride transit to it (or around it)

Bumbershoot in 1973. It’s much more crowded now.
Via Seattle Municipal Archives

Correction: This article previously reported that the 520 bridge was closed. This was an error carried over from the previous week. The 520 bridge is open, so at least there’s that.

Another weekend, another whole list of things that could disrupt getting around. Some of these events might be things you’re doing, too: Labor Day weekend is big in Seattle, with Bumbershoot, PAX West, and the Puyallup Fair all descending upon the Puget Sound.

We’ve combed through the alerts and advisories from both the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to deliver transit-friendly solutions for your weekend outings.

Some of this weekend’s advisories—and transit-oriented alternate routes to events—are listed below.

Bumbershoot, PAX, and the Fair, oh my

Is there anything going on that’s not one of those three things? A usual: SLU Saturday Market closes Ninth Avenue between Denny and John Streets on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can get to all the major events descending upon Seattle all at one time.


Seattle’s little music and arts festival turned gigantic, $150-per-day blowout is expecting 35,000 attendees per day. This is not a great day to go around Seattle Center if your business is not Bumbershoot-related, and no matter what your business, it’s probably not a great idea to drive there.

Transit is plentiful, depending on what side of the Center you want to get to: The 8 hits both the south and west sides of the Seattle Center. The 1, 2, 13, 32, and RapidRide D also run along the west side of the Center by the Key. The 3 or the 4, which come from Upper Queen Anne on one side and from downtown and the Central District on the other, hit the east side.

If you’re taking a car to the festival, taking a Lyft to the nearby Dick’s Drive-In instead will get a 20 percent discount.

And as they often do for this kind of occasion, car-sharing service ReachNow is running a drop zone out of Second Avenue North and Denny Way.

PAX West

Also taking over the city, not that far away from Bumbershoot: Penny Arcade Expo, better-known as PAX. This sold-out gaming convention (and adjacent nerd stuff celebration) is taking over not just the Convention Center, but multiple venues around the city for satellite events. SDOT estimates 25,000 attendees per day for this one.*

Transit options to PAX are also plentiful. Your closest Link Light Rail Stop is going to be Westlake Station, and at least for now—until the Convention Center expansion takes over—multiple buses run through the Convention Station, including Metro routes 41 74, 101, 102, 150, and 255, plus Sound Transit 550.

Outside the tunnel, westbound 7, 10, 43, 47, 49, and 150 take you a block away from the Convention Center.

Even closer: the eastbound 10, 43, and 47 stop right out front, but only after having gone a few blocks.

Seriously, though: Most buses that gets you downtown will get you within several blocks of the Convention Center. Even more run down the transit corridor on Third Avenue, which is four or five blocks away depending on where you enter the Convention Center.

PAX will also close 9th Avenue between Pine and Pike Streets all weekend.

*If you’re counting, that’s 60,000 people around Seattle’s core this weekend between PAX and Bumbershoot.

Washington State Fair

Better-known as the Puyallup, the Washington State Fair has everything one would expect from a fair: animals, scones, rides, music, crafts, prizes. This one’s not gumming up the works in Seattle quite as badly, but for opening weekend—and a three-day weekend—expect the route from Puget Sound’s cities to Puyallup to be a little mucky.

As far as transit to the Fair goes, we’ve prepared an entirely separate guide for this.

Evergreen State Fair

This smaller but very similar fair is having its closing weekend up in Monroe for Labor Day. If you’re trying to ride transit there, it’s a little ambitious. Community Transit Route 271 seems to be the closest—it stops a half mile outside fairgrounds—but to reach the 271, you have to get to the Everett Station first. The Sound Transit 512 will take care of that first leg from downtown.

Sports and the stadium district

While the Storm season has come to a close and the Seahawks are in Oakland for a preseason game this weekend, the Mariners have a home game at Safeco literally every day of Labor Day weekend, Friday through Monday. (The first three are against Oakland; Monday’s is against Houston.)

Link Light Rail goes to the stadium, as does the Seattle Streetcar and a ton of bus routes from Metro, Community Transit, and Sound Transit.

Road work

WSDOT mercifully gave us a day off from Revive I-5 projects this weekend (they’ll be back next week). There’s only minor projects, like from the wee hours of September 2 through September 3, crews will close Second Avenue between University and Seneca to erect a crane.

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