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Seattle weekend traffic and transit: Don’t even try it, 2018 edition

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.
Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, item 77566

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

A few things are not those three things. For example, the Zac Brown Band is playing Safeco Field on Friday at 7 p.m. Take Link Light Rail to the stadium or ID stop, take the First Hill Streetcar to Pioneer Square, or hop on one of a ton of bus routes from Metro, Community Transit, and Sound Transit.

The Foo Fighters are also playing Safeco this weekend—Saturday at 7 p.m. Same transit directions apply.

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, $130-per-day blowout is expecting 30,000 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.

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. Multiple buses run by the now-retired 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 Thursday night through Tuesday morning. Eighth Avenue will also close, just in the mornings, between Pike and Seneca so people can wait in line.

*If you’re counting, that’s 55,000 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: Sounders and Seahawks

The Storm are out of town for their big semifinals game, but there are still some sports happening.

First, two games at Centurylink Field: The Seahawks have a preseason game at Oakland on Thursday night at 7 p.m., and the Sounders play Sporting KC on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Mariners have a home game at Safeco, too: Monday at 6:10 p.m. against the Orioles.

Link Light Rail goes to the stadiums, as does the Seattle Streetcar and a ton of bus routes from Metro, Community Transit, and Sound Transit. The Sounder train, which brings in commuters from as far as Everett and Lakewood, is making special trips for Saturday’s Sounders game.

Road work and bus reroutes

Starting Thursday and running through mid-September, S Main Street will be closed between Alaskan and First for utility work overnight from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Also starting Thursday (but running through late September), John Street will be closed between Fairview and Minor weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sat/Sun: 9 AM – 7 PM for some electrical stuff. Thomas will be closed between Fairview and Boren for a few days starting Monday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the same reason.

Mercifully, not a lot is happening with the buses this week. The northbound 63, 64, and 309 will be routed off Eighth Avenue and Seneca because of PAX, missing the Eighth and Pine stop; riders can use Seneca and Terry or Ninth and Virginia instead.

Note: We put immediate and new closures in this section, but not every single planned street closure appears here. Explore all 98 active SDOT projects, many of which involve street and lane closures, here. Here are Sound Transit rider alerts; here are King County Metro rider alerts.

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