Beware if you’re heading to I-5

November 15, 2007 at 2:58 pm | In Not WS but we're mentioning it anyway, Transportation | 29 Comments

Thanks to everybody who let us know about this – there’s been trouble the past couple hours in the vicinity of the West Seattle Bridge ramp to I-5 north – avoid it if you can – we’re checking on the status. 4:05 PM UPDATE: The ramp is still reported closed. Here is a link to the status updates at Traffic.com. 5:35 PM STATUS CHECK: All online sources still show this situation continuing; besides the Traffic.com link above, here’s the 710 AM radio “incidents” page. 7:40 PM STATUS CHECK: Not over yet. Click the comment link on this post to read, among other comments, more on exactly what and who one WSB reader saw while passing by. Meantime, here’s the image for the city traffic cam showing the area (refresh this page for the latest grab).

29 Comments

  1. Yes, take 99 if you’re headed out of W. Seattle and going northbound. I got stuck in the snarl about 11:30am (was able to go up to Beacon Hill and could have gotten onto I-5 South) and can’t find any news about it. Checked 911 responses and they list “rescue rope” and multiple (many) types of response vehicles on the scene (started around 11am and still going on). I’m sure we’ll hear more from our trusty WS Blog, although I couldn’t find anything on news station websites (couldn’t been my searching techniques). WA DOT traffic website just says “closed for incidents”, and the camera there is blank.

    My husband just made it back to West Seattle from Issaquah using I-90 and getting on the West Seattle bridge (about 2:30p), FYI, but Columbian/I-5 entrance/exits are closed.

    Comment by WS Resident — 3:07 pm November 15, 2007 #

  2. This isn’t just the last couple hours, I left West Seattle at about 10:45 this morning and there were emergency vehicles all over the ramps blocking them off. I couldn’t tell what happened.

    Comment by Todd — 3:33 pm November 15, 2007 #

  3. I got stuck in it around 11:30 AM and on KOMO 1000 the traffic report I listened to around that time said it was due to a man on the Columbian Way overpass (it sounded to me like the authorities were trying to prevent a suicide attempt but they may not have specifically said so).

    Comment by SD — 3:52 pm November 15, 2007 #

  4. On traffic.com (we will add the link to the post in a minute) it’s described as “police activity,” which is often the code for something having to do with a suicidal person or another difficult situation – so SD may be on it. We have checked the media lines for police and fire and nothing about this; it’s on the 911 site as a “rope rescue” at Columbian/12th that started in the 10 o’clock hour this morning – pretty extraordinary for something to have gone on so long.

    Comment by WSB — 4:02 pm November 15, 2007 #

  5. I must have *just* missed this on my way to work this morning.

    I’ll be heading back that direction shortly, and will pass along an update if at all possible.

    Comment by rlv — 4:08 pm November 15, 2007 #

  6. Went through there (exited to WS bridge from I-5 South) around 3:35. Yep, a person on the ‘wrong’ side of the overpass – the outside. Had a yellow slicker on. Hope it turns out ok.

    Comment by Hills — 4:21 pm November 15, 2007 #

  7. there is a 4:45 update on komo radio’s site saying the “incident” has been cleared.

    Comment by k — 4:52 pm November 15, 2007 #

  8. just headed back to w. seattle from downtown. 99 southbound was slow, but not too bad.

    Comment by wsmom — 4:54 pm November 15, 2007 #

  9. k – we just checked the komo site and its “incidents” list also shows this as still under way. maybe it was a temporary erroneous report.

    Comment by WSB — 5:41 pm November 15, 2007 #

  10. At 6:05 pm it’s still being listed as ongoing at various sites, but at WA DOT traffic site I noticed awhile ago that one of four onramps/exits that have been closed had been listed as cleared, but still three are blocked. I also saw it listed on the 710 AM radio incidents page as a “security incident”. I’m very curious what’s going on. I hope whoever is involved, if it’s a person or people, will be okay. This was first reported around 10:30am and has involved multiple response teams.

    Comment by WS Resident — 6:07 pm November 15, 2007 #

  11. Am I the only one wondering why there’s nothing in the news about this, even though it’s messed up traffic all day and everyone knows ‘something’ is going on?

    This is pretty confusing.. rope rescue, security incident, or whatever it is.

    Comment by T — 6:14 pm November 15, 2007 #

  12. I’ve been wondering that since I got home and noticed all the traffic backed up on Beacon Ave S. What the heck is up, and why is local “news” ignoring this thing entirely??

    Comment by Jason — 6:50 pm November 15, 2007 #

  13. You’re not the only one, I’ve been perplexed all day why there was no local media report on such a major traffic obstruction.

    Comment by Todd — 7:15 pm November 15, 2007 #

  14. It’s a guy standing on the edge, Aurora Bridge-style. He’s hanging out on the outermost part of the trestle that holds the I-5 S and West Seattle Bridge signs when you approach from Columbian Way, directly over the WS I-5 N onramp, and probably the highest part over the road. I was coming back from a delivery downtown and saw him just sort of hanging out, like it was a jungle gym. It’s actually a sort of impressive feat of endurance that he’s still hanging on there despite the elements today.

    Comment by Mac — 7:21 pm November 15, 2007 #

  15. While I hope the person is okay as well–can I be an awful person and vent about how SPD handled the situation? I traveled across the west seattle bridge around 12:15 p.m.. Since traffic was moving at a steady pace, I drove past the 99 and towards the I5. It wasn’t until I got to the offramp that I noticed the ramp was blocked off. As a result, I had to wind my through a bunch of streets in stop-and-go traffic and ended up being 30 minutes late to a VERY important meeting (this, after I even built in a 20 minute “pad” to my commute). It was sooooooooo pissed! Why couldn’t SPD have put up a sign at the 99 exit encouraging people to take that offramp?! The incident had already been going on for two hours at that point. It was the sensible thing to do. I sincerely hope others will join me in lodging a complaint. I don’t mind that they closed the offramp for public safety — but I DO mind that they didn’t take measures to ensure I5 commuters had an opportunity to take the 99.

    Comment by Tish — 7:25 pm November 15, 2007 #

  16. I think it’s more the media’s job to inform us of traffic issues while the police handle the emergency. In between telling us over and over about Maria Federicci, Fred Russell, and that pedophile blogger, mentioning a huge traffic nightmare would’ve been much appreciated. Oh well.

    Comment by T — 7:50 pm November 15, 2007 #

  17. If we can get in a word edgewise on our own behalf, this is the value of “hyperlocal” media – while citywide media has to balance every traffic nuisance, for example, a West Seattle news source like ours would be more hyper-attentive to a problem affecting West Seattleites in particular. We do apologize for being a few hours late to the party, though, so to speak, and therefore not saving some of you the trouble of the surprise encounter. We are monitoring the scanner right now listening to police and fire crews, so we can let everyone know when it’s over (hoping for a happy ending).

    Comment by WSB — 8:19 pm November 15, 2007 #

  18. It does seem strange there is no mention of this whatsoever on the websites for the Times, PI, or any of the local TV stations. I know authorities discourage the media from covering jumpers for fear it will encourage copycats. Perhaps that is why the media silence?

    Comment by Jason C — 8:28 pm November 15, 2007 #

  19. What Jason said. That is exactly why this isn’t on the news. There are regular jumpers off 99 over the Fremont canal (just ask the folks who work at Adobe) but they don’t cover these things on the news so as not to encourage copycats or to give suicidal people any ideas. That’s just the way it is, no big mystery. Although it does seem like the police handled it poorly in terms of traffic flows.

    Comment by RS — 8:44 pm November 15, 2007 #

  20. Just realized this is probably the same guy I saw about a week ago, he was doing the same thing…I was heading east on the bridge and took the 99 exit; traffic was slow in the “curve” ramp onto 99 because people were understandably startled at the guy in a yellow coat standing on the outside edge of the bridge, visible to the left from the ramp. He was sort of clambering back and forth over the edge, and holding onto a pole with one arm (the “hanging out like it was a jungle gym” description above fits perfectly).

    Once I was on the straightaway on the viaduct I called 911 and reported it, didn’t hear or see anything on the local news or here on the WSB so didn’t think of it til reading this thread.

    Comment by KM — 9:42 pm November 15, 2007 #

  21. I hear ya Tish. I was in a similar situation today.

    Doesn’t seem right that someone could create such an impact on such major roads for tens of thousand of people for almost 12 hours. I understand about not reporting on suicides though and I do hope the person is ok.

    Comment by Todd (different) — 10:02 pm November 15, 2007 #

  22. Another reason they do not publicize what is going on in situations like this stems from the jumper they had on the ship canal bridge some years ago. Once people heard what was going on, they were so angered by the traffic back up, they drove by telling the person to jump. They do not want incidents like that to occur again. I completely understand the decision to list it as “police activity” or an “incident”. Someone’s life vs. “why am i stuck in traffic” seems like an easy answer to me.

    Comment by k — 7:43 am November 16, 2007 #

  23. I realize this may be an unpopular view, but…I deeply resent the total lack of coverage (what is going on now, in real time, please) of this event by ALL the local news outlets. Had we heard about this on the news, all thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands, of us would have deliberately re-routed ourselves if possible, instead of stumbling into the Mother, or Big Sister, anyway, of all traffic jams. As it was, I had to simply guess (blindly) how big the traffic obstruction would be, hope I was right, and do my best. I bet most of the rest of us had to do likewise. Can we say “random” response, because of “no information”? So it took me an hour and a half to get from Beacon Hill to West Seattle. OK, OK, I can see the wish not to encourage “copy cats”. But maybe that would be the merciful thing to do: get them ALL out of the woodwork, so they can get some care!

    Again, I find great fault with the local news (esp. the TV stations) for total lack of coverage of at least the geographical extent of the “event”. Shame on them.

    Comment by Thomas — 9:17 am November 16, 2007 #

  24. Thankyou for being here. This site was the only one that had info on the freeway ramp closures Thursday..Appreciated it since we all worry for our friends and loved ones safety. Understand safety issue of victim but also important to calm the masses and remove concerns for their loved ones safety..Again really appreciate the WS BLOG VERY ON TOP OF THINGS.. kudos to you..

    Comment by cher stefano — 9:20 am November 16, 2007 #

  25. Does anybody know if they were successful at helping the poor guy out? I had a good friend go like that, and stuff like this hits me hard.. especially not knowing if he got help or jumped or what.

    Comment by Lisa — 6:37 pm November 16, 2007 #

  26. Yes, they did get him down OK.

    Comment by WSB — 7:27 pm November 16, 2007 #

  27. I agree. Thanks WSB. West Seattle feels 300% more homey since you’ve introduced me to my neighborhood :) PS. I’ve calmed down now (and am sincerely glad that the gentlemen is okay) though I still wish someone had pointed commuters to the 99.

    Comment by Tish — 9:46 pm November 16, 2007 #

  28. Glad they were able to help this guy- because on Tuesday morning, a 32 year old man jumped to his death on the Pike Street overpass. We watched it all unfold from our building- and we checked ALL the local channels, nothing. Interestingly enough, the Associated Press had gotten word of it, but again, none of the local channels had it. I know that a black SUV and a white pickup saw him jump. Poor guy. Poor people that saw him. I just hope that the guys i n the truck didn’t HIT the guy. :*(

    Comment by Lindsay — 12:09 am November 17, 2007 #

  29. Yes, the local media have a policy of never reporting suicides/potential suicide jumpers not even after its all over.

    Sort of makes you wonder what other items the local media have decided to never report about.

    Comment by I am your mother — 11:53 am November 17, 2007 #

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