The Washington Transportation Department has posted detour routes around the collapsed Interstate 5 over the Skagit River - but urges drivers to avoid the area if possible, even on a busy Memorial Day weekend.
Traffic on I-5 in Skagit County backed up Friday afternoon about a mile northbound and two miles southbound as cars crawled through the detour routes. The shortest routes go through the busy shopping districts of Burlington and Mount Vernon.
An average of 71,000 vehicles a day use the stretch of highway on the main route between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, DO officials said.
The department also is recommending detours using Highway 20 and Highway 9 that add tens of miles to a trip.
Officials are urging drivers to avoid the area if possible.
Traffic is being diverted off southbound I-5 at Exit 230. For an alternate route, take eastbound Highway 20, then go south on S. Burlington Boulevard and west on E. College Way to southbound I-5.
Northbound I-5 traffic must exit at Exit 227. An alternate route is east to E. College Way to northbound Riverside Drive-S. Burlington Boulevard, then west on George Hopper Road to I-5.
To use Highway 9 as an alternate northbound route, bypassing Mount Vernon, take Exit 221 at State Route 534 east to northbound Highway 9 to Highway 20 westbound to I-5.
Another alternate route is Riverside Drive/Burlington Boulevard.
Whichever route you choose, plan for heavy traffic on these alternate routes for the foreseeable future.
The roadblock on both directions of I-5 is expected to cause a major disruption in trade and tourism between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Transportation Department has set up detours. The closest is within sight of the I-5 bridge and mostly used for local traffic between Mount Vernon and Burlington.
View I-5 Skagit River Bridge Detour in a larger map