West Seattle traffic: ‘Worst morning in 5 years’ – but why?

May 11, 2011 at 9:37 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 125 Comments

One WSB’er e-mailed to call this the worst traffic he’d seen in five years of living here. We lived the commute too this morning since we were trying to get to the shipyard for the “media availability” regarding the Sea-Based X-Band Radar that was towed in last night (WSB nighttime coverage here, today’s followup here) – and we made it maybe a mile in the first half-hour toward The Bridge. Fauntleroy was backed up, 35th was backed up, Avalon was backed up, Andover to Delridge was backed up. The 911 log showed no incidents anywhere on the West Seattle Bridge; we have called SDOT to see if their systems indicated what made this so much worse than usual. (At least one TV traffic person reportedly blamed an I-5 crash.) More to come. And remember – the Alaskan Way Viaduct has closures this weekend, and next Monday starts “The Big Squeeze” lane reductions. (P.S. Just after publishing this, we headed back into WS up Avalon – and it’s STILL backed up halfway up the hill in the bridge-bound direction – see iPhone photo above.)

11:11 AM: The photo above is from Oliver, showing what the travel-time signs on Fauntleroy said when he passed through. We’ve also heard back from Marybeth Turner at SDOT; she talked with the Traffic Management Center manager in their agency, who also blamed I-5: “He said that there were several accidents on I-5 that backed up traffic.” We don’t see a whole lot on the WSDOT_Traffic Twitter feed but will be asking for their thoughts.

125 Comments

  1. I’ve noticed longer travel times from say top of 35th to I-5 for about a week or so now….I can only hope it’s because people are getting back to work at last but it’s worse than I’ve seen for the last couple of years….

    Comment by kellym — 9:43 am May 11, 2011 #

  2. it’s worst than when the new hi-rise bridge was being built.
    hate to be a person that thinks the glass is half empty but, i’m beginning to think it’s empty- not even half full!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Loco in W.S. — 9:48 am May 11, 2011 #

  3. I think everyone was gawking at the SBX. After we passed by, traffic got better.

    Comment by jenf — 9:52 am May 11, 2011 #

  4. I for one am sick and tired of having to wait for all the I-5 bound traffic just so I can get on SR-99. The WS commute has turned into a circus…it’s absolutely ridiculous.

    Comment by od1 — 10:04 am May 11, 2011 #

  5. One of the traffic reports said it was awful because of a stall on 520…? OK….

    I can’t remember the last time it took me an hour to get to the Olive exit…

    I agree that this was one of the worst commutes EVER!

    Comment by meinws — 10:06 am May 11, 2011 #

  6. There was a ton of truck traffic on the low bridge, and the turn around before e marginal is closed, might be just a part of the problem. Took me 25 minutes to get to Georgetown.

    Comment by Wisepunk — 10:07 am May 11, 2011 #

  7. I still managed to hit 84 MPH going down Admiral this morning. didn’t seem so bad. Caught the bartender just as he was opening up too :)

    Comment by Terry — 10:07 am May 11, 2011 #

  8. I couldn’t get close to the WS bridge so I tried to go into town through Burien and 509 to the 1st Ave S bridge was backed up too. I’m now back home and in my sweats for the day :)

    @Terry – LOL!

    Comment by catlady — 10:17 am May 11, 2011 #

  9. The viaduct northbound has been traveling at about 10 mph for at least the last hour. Slowdown starts someplace north of the ferry terminal.

    Comment by Debbie — 10:18 am May 11, 2011 #

  10. No need for light rail…

    Comment by WorldCitizen — 10:18 am May 11, 2011 #

  11. So glad we take the Water Taxi!

    Comment by dq — 10:21 am May 11, 2011 #

  12. so glad I work at home :)

    Comment by JanS — 10:34 am May 11, 2011 #

  13. It’s been getting progessively worse over the last year and I can’t figure out why either so I’m glad you brought this up.

    With high unemployment you would think we might see it do just the opposite.

    Does the census give us any clues? Do we really have that many more condo dwellers, maybe?

    It’s really disturbing when you figure it will only get worse as the “big squeeze” kicks in AND (hopefully) employment start rising again.

    Comment by Watertowerjoey — 10:39 am May 11, 2011 #

  14. This morning qualified as a WTF Commute.

    Comment by OP — 10:44 am May 11, 2011 #

  15. I left about 7:45 and after 20 minutes not even making it from the Morgan Junction to Alaska on Fauntleroy I turned around and went home hoping the traffic would die down.

    It did clear out of Fauntleroy up to the bridge by the time I left about 9:15, but 99 was a disaster. It was down to one lane at the western exit. Looked like someone had hit the guardrail at the exit and it was being repaired.

    Comment by Thomas — 10:48 am May 11, 2011 #

  16. WorldCitizen:

    Not when overall ridership of light rail is not even close meeting projections (which they ST had to revise to make the numbers look better than they are):

    http://globaltelematics.com/pitf/Linkpassengercount.htm

    So, sure, let’s throw another $2billion+ down that rat hole.

    Comment by OP — 10:49 am May 11, 2011 #

  17. so glad I rode my bike!

    Comment by George — 10:53 am May 11, 2011 #

  18. I saw the electronic sign on the way in read: “51 minutes 4th Ave S” and I thought they were testing the sign. I didn’t believe it.

    Comment by Herman — 10:56 am May 11, 2011 #

  19. I wondered what was going on. Took over half an hour for the bus to get from Fauntleroy/Dawson to Luna Park Cafe – which usually takes 5 minutes or so. And yet we flew once we got onto 99. Can’t wait to see what it’ll be like when they start closing those lanes.

    Comment by Sue — 10:57 am May 11, 2011 #

  20. So glad I’m moving… :(

    Comment by ad — 10:59 am May 11, 2011 #

  21. It was horrible! It wasn’t just the bridge though, once I got on 99 (North) it was backed up until the battery street tunnel, where they had the middle lane closed.

    Comment by SJ2 — 11:00 am May 11, 2011 #

  22. Bwahahaahahaha!

    Comment by lostcoyote — 11:02 am May 11, 2011 #

  23. so glad some people don’t think the traffic into seattle isn’t all that bad, since there are so many exit points from WS. Yeah, surrre.

    Comment by george — 11:05 am May 11, 2011 #

  24. So glad I live and work in West Seattle! No need to leave the “island”.

    Comment by Steph — 11:09 am May 11, 2011 #

  25. Around 9 I was heading down Admiral but not to get on the bridge,just heading home after an early morning appoitment. Traffic was backed up all the way up the hill, but luckily I could head down the right lane and take Avalon.

    The traffic sign said “Low bridge closed to traffic” so I assumed it meant the span was open and that backed things up but sounds much more systematic+ than that.

    Comment by Cecelia Lehmann — 11:13 am May 11, 2011 #

  26. Just got into WS via Southbound viaduct. Looked like DOT had everything backed up at the Western St exit doing some work.

    Comment by Driver — 11:14 am May 11, 2011 #

  27. nightmare traffic. was sure I would see massive carnage. gave up after it took just under 40 minutes from Morgan Junction to the entrance to the low bridge – also completely backed up at 9:30. Would love to know what caused this if anyone figures it out. Glad I usually don’t need to drive out of West Seattle in the morning anymore – I’d have to keep a jar of Tums in the car!

    Comment by chinook — 11:20 am May 11, 2011 #

  28. Hey, let’s cram a bunch of new condominiums in here! I’m all for urban density but infrastructure must keep up to maintain the quality of life we in West Seattle currently enjoy.

    Comment by Sean — 11:22 am May 11, 2011 #

  29. Northbound 99 is all clear now.

    Comment by Debbie — 11:23 am May 11, 2011 #

  30. The UW has a new study out which proclaims the viaduct replacement surface street option will be just fine. Only 1-2 minutes more added to your commute they say, if any measurable affect at all.
    Perhaps this morning’s follies was a response to their study.

    Comment by sw — 11:23 am May 11, 2011 #

  31. I’m blacked out. anybody going to Admiral and California neighborhood. At Nitelite.

    Comment by Terry — 11:25 am May 11, 2011 #

  32. BIKE!….it’s this cool thing with two wheels that you peddle to make it go forward. Sure it burns calories and may help you lose weight, but it’s great. I ride from Jefferson Square to KIRKLAND everyday…..21.9 miles reach way. You should try it. No traffic..EVER! And it’s better for the environment and all.

    Comment by Cowpie — 11:32 am May 11, 2011 #

  33. Not sure if this was the root cause, but there was one lane of SR 99 northbound closed right at the exit for Western Ave.

    Comment by Paul Balcerak — 11:32 am May 11, 2011 #

  34. Wait til the viaduct comes down….lol

    Comment by lostcoyote — 11:36 am May 11, 2011 #

  35. I heart CatLady. Meow.

    Comment by Terry — 11:37 am May 11, 2011 #

  36. Wow, I must have gotten lucky – the 125 bus dropped me off downtown a minute or two earlier than usual, at about 7:55.

    Comment by Jen — 11:39 am May 11, 2011 #

  37. might have been I-5 to blame. i came from delridge to georgetown via west marginal/1st ave bridge and no real delays at 9am. the bridge looked a mess (high and low), i’m glad i didn’t decide to chance it!

    Comment by brittany — 11:41 am May 11, 2011 #

  38. Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

    Comment by WSHC — 11:42 am May 11, 2011 #

  39. Huh? I had no problems whatsoever with traffic this morning. It only took me my usual 25 minutes to get from the Junction to Belltown.
    .
    Oh wait, that’s right, I was riding a bicycle.

    Comment by 2wheels a-go-go — 11:45 am May 11, 2011 #

  40. You know…I love all the comments by bike riders but some of do not have that option due to health issues….I do my best by taking the bus everyday but sometimes get tired of the bike commute comments….

    Comment by Deb — 11:50 am May 11, 2011 #

  41. We need to continue to encourage more multi-unit building. That will help in creating out of control grid lock for all of West Seattle. Who’s in charge of planning? We don’t have enough in and out streets for our area as is. Stop the madness.

    Comment by michael anderson — 11:53 am May 11, 2011 #

  42. Now do you see the light. I have been calling for a park and ride in west seattle for along time. Just wait til more of these apartments are built. It is time for the westseattle leadership to call on the city and get started. Maybe we need to vote on a park an ride levy. Maybe the city can come in an claim these empty lots we have like they did for the monorail and open a park and ride. If it’s not a sunshine slow down it’s a white ball slow down or it’s a rain slow down. but the bottom line is it’s the same everyday. I know there is a park an ride under the bridge but you have to sit in traffic just to get there. For now make sure you have that extra large cup of coffee with you it’s going to be a long mornning ride.

    Comment by foy boy — 11:57 am May 11, 2011 #

  43. I’m very interested to find out the root cause. I usually ride a bike but had to drive today, and the backup was starting but not horrendous until the bridge (not on 35th) at 7:00, if that helps. I got off at First Ave and that was fine.
    .
    Biking really is an option for most people, believe it or not. You CAN get yourself clean for work. You CAN carry your gear. I ride 24 miles each way and know the bus routes in case I just want to bail. Bus/bike expands your options.
    .
    If anyone wants personlized help getting started, ask me here. I’m happy to do it.

    Comment by lucky chick — 11:57 am May 11, 2011 #

  44. From WSDOT:
    Construction Closures

    * On SR 99 northbound just north of Battery St Tunnel (MP 32) the right lane is closed due to roadwork.

    Don’t know if that was the case earlier this AM but if so it seems like this would be a contributor.

    Comment by KF — 11:58 am May 11, 2011 #

  45. that would be awesome to bike and as soon as I can bill you the 80 bucks a month to have access to a shower where I work, I’m all over it.

    I was up north this morning, and even at 6:15 there was more traffic than normal leaving the city and driving in, so maybe it was one of those days everywhere.

    Comment by Colleen — 11:58 am May 11, 2011 #

  46. Just to put this in perspective it was happening everywhere not just West Seattle. I work in Montlake and every single one of my co-workers were late and they come from Shoreline, Beacon Hill, Bellevue, Mill Creek…they all said it was nuts. I was the only one that arrived on time from West Seattle via bus…makes you think…

    Comment by Kara — 12:00 pm May 11, 2011 #

  47. There was at least one incident on I5 at 6:30 this morning. A fender bender with debris blocking the right lanes just before the convention center north. I was stopped behind the tropper who pulled over to move a bumper and other debris to the side. That, and a traffic stop just off the on ramp from the bridge had traffic slowed up to about halfway across the bridge heading to the northbound ramp.

    Comment by Jeff — 12:03 pm May 11, 2011 #

  48. Timing is everything, I guess. Commute from Westwood to South Lake Union was amazingly light this morning, but I arrived at work just before 8am. Sure glad I missed the mess (this time, anyway)!

    Comment by Charlie — 12:08 pm May 11, 2011 #

  49. I’m now at Chelan Cafe but could still use a little help. Catwoman?

    Comment by Terry — 12:08 pm May 11, 2011 #

  50. So glad I take my helicopter …

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 12:10 pm May 11, 2011 #

  51. I didn’t ask for excuses on why you are not interested in bike commuting, only requests for help. Jeez, my email said specifically that there are ways to clean up! And they don’t cost $80. So no need to respond if you don’t want help getting started.

    Comment by lucky chick — 12:11 pm May 11, 2011 #

  52. So what about those of us who cannot bike to work either because we have to drive to client meetings throughout the day or because we are pregnant? Biking is ONE option but it’s not an option for everyone.

    Comment by Naomi — 12:15 pm May 11, 2011 #

  53. Thank gawd I don’t live in W.S. anymore. I can’t imagine the nightmare it’s going to be when the viaduct tear down is in full force. Good luck! Oh yeah..there’s only a very very small minority of people who can adjust to riding a bike to wherever, so get real. Riding a bike for most people is not an option.

    Comment by jiggers — 12:16 pm May 11, 2011 #

  54. Wow. I’m glad I left for work at 6:45am today and even then it was way busier than normal at that time. Still no sweat though.

    Comment by Frank — 12:17 pm May 11, 2011 #

  55. Maybe a perfect storm of construction closures, rain, and collisions? And people avoiding First Ave because of construction there? Still doesn’t seem like the backup should have been so extensive. But I’m admittedly not very familiar with the normal conditions.

    Comment by lucky chick — 12:17 pm May 11, 2011 #

  56. The picture is totally deceptive – it actually shows traffic moving and space between cars. It was bumper to bumper. Took me 1/2 an hour to get from California > Oregon > bridge where I turned around and went back home and worked from there for the morning.
    .
    And can I make a plea to the Fauntleroy commuters? The light at Oregon is not there as a suggestion – when the light is red please don’t continue through – we on Oregon have such a short window to get through that light. As I sat there today I saw at least 5 cars run the red light, making then no room for us on Oregon to go.

    Comment by pie — 12:17 pm May 11, 2011 #

  57. West Seattle be sure to build a few more large apartment complex’s and there is still 2 lanes going out of West Seattle @Faultleroy. I’m guessing none of the city planners live in West Seattle. City officials seem to think everyone living in West Seattle works downtown. REALLY??? Wait until the viaduct closes. The only time you will be able to get out/in West Seattle will be about 3AM

    Comment by Debbie — 12:19 pm May 11, 2011 #

  58. Have any of you read Kara’s comment? [and Kara, thank you for the reality check] “Just to put this in perspective it was happening everywhere not just West Seattle. I work in Montlake and every single one of my co-workers were late and they come from Shoreline, Beacon Hill, Bellevue, Mill Creek…they all said it was nuts.” There is so much carping on this site about how West Seattle is at such a disadvantage. Traffic is bad all over Seattle during rush hour, not just WS.

    Comment by KF — 12:31 pm May 11, 2011 #

  59. High unemployment + high gas prices “should” = fewer cars.

    WTF is going to happen when employment picks up and gas prices fall?

    Tired of SB 99 exit to WSB being back up at 6:00PM too! I may have to start using the middle lane and cutting over at the last second like those other cheaters!

    Comment by Watertowerjoey — 12:33 pm May 11, 2011 #

  60. Took me 55 minutes to get from Lincoln Park to the 4th Ave Exit. I am VERY interested in the details that computed the “average” of 6-1/2 extra commute time that the UW did if/when the Viaduct comes down. I’m already stressed out about the upcoming lane closures. Aaaaagggghhhhh!!!!!!!

    Comment by bsmomma — 12:35 pm May 11, 2011 #

  61. Seriously, biking is an option for MOST people, but it is not without effort and obviously not practicable for late pregnancy or people who drive for a living. Look around one day – you’ll see old people, fat people, people with kids all bike commuting. One guy tows his cello everyday. One has a prosthetic arm.
    .
    Once again, if you want some preliminary help please let me know – I know all the reasons and excuses not to ride, so no need to enumerate them ad nauseum.

    Comment by lucky chick — 12:37 pm May 11, 2011 #

  62. Every time I see I bike commuter, I think “there goes one less car” and am envious that I’m not out there with you–all the more so this morning as I sat fuming behind the wheel. Those of you on two wheels, you rock–and roll!

    Comment by Marie — 12:40 pm May 11, 2011 #

  63. now see, the City should ENCOURAGE people to work in West Seattle, not take that option away, ie, allowing the Safeway development to do away with the live-work lofts. living and working in West Seattle is a great option that works for some and should be pursued..

    Comment by sam-c — 12:50 pm May 11, 2011 #

  64. @jiggers, really? Only a very very small minority of people can adjust to biking? That’s pretty friggin’ ridiculous, considering most average commutes are under 2 miles. How about we switch your reasoning around, and say the VAST majority of people are simply too lazy and don’t want to stop driving their couches everywhere they go, causing deaths and pollution. How do you like that?

    Comment by JN — 12:54 pm May 11, 2011 #

  65. It makes my blood boil when I see all these townhomes, condos, and apartments approved when absolutely nothing is being done about the increasingly terrible traffic coming in and out of West Seattle.

    If we get the surface street option for replacing the Viaduct, I think commutes like the one this morning will be a regular occurrence. West Seattle is the largest “borough” in Seattle and there should be more emphasis placed on viable transportation options in and out of the neighborhood. (And I’m a bicycle commuter — those kinds of commutes are stressful and detrimental to everyone in a community in direct and indirect ways.)

    Comment by Evan — 12:54 pm May 11, 2011 #

  66. We left at 8am and arrived in Downtown via 99 an hour later. That sucked, big time.

    oh well…looking forward to the massive garage sale this weekend!!

    Comment by The Greene Family — 12:55 pm May 11, 2011 #

  67. Got cut off. Never go to the Chelan and drink for 3 hours with no money!!!

    Comment by Terry — 12:57 pm May 11, 2011 #

  68. Out of gas.

    Comment by Terry — 12:59 pm May 11, 2011 #

  69. Working for me means I need a large vehicle to carry all my wares in. I also have multiple destinations. This rules out bike or bus. Even if it didn’t riding a bike would not be an option for me as I value my life. With all of the distractions available to drivers these days and the increased density in Seattle, and the potholes there is no way I would put myself on the road without some metal around me. If one is so inclined to commute by bicycle go for it have fun but please know it’s not for everybody. As a lifelong (- 8 months ) resident of our beautiful city it’s our inability to decide that is our problem…. Monorail, lightrail, tunnel, viaduct, surface streets wah wah wah. Just decide already and move on!!! People no matter how bad the economy is or how high gas is or how bad traffic is cars are not going away. And will continue to be the number one mode of transportation here, and we will continue to complain and the city will hold meetings for us to complain at and the will put plans on hold and………

    Comment by Cclarue — 1:04 pm May 11, 2011 #

  70. I drive from West Seattle to Lynnwood every day and it sucks. But it looks like I picked a great time to start a new morning boot camp at Green Lake because at 5:20 in the morning there wasn’t any of these problems. Maybe I should look into biking after this camp is over…

    Comment by Courtney — 1:14 pm May 11, 2011 #

  71. It’s odd that it should happen all at once, but get used to this WS’rs. Your City Council keeps approving more and more condos, adding density and two cars per unit, while morons keep calling for “road diets” and the bridge doesn’t get any wider, and no flyovers even conceived to get you from WS to 99 and I-5, and no elevated transit solution in the offing.
    .
    Better hope for some bold forward thinking in the near future because this is what you’re looking at all the time soon otherwise.

    Comment by lenguamor — 1:15 pm May 11, 2011 #

  72. Given the current roads’ capacity and the lack of alternate routes (due to construction in some cases) any perturbation is capable of causing city-wide or regional gridlock (slightly higher volume of cars, trucks entering from the port, stalled car, sunshine, rain, etc).

    It seemed better a few weeks ago when, one can speculate, many people were taking ‘spring break’ vacations. Now, everyone is back to work until summer begins.

    In any case, the region needs to be able to support the transporation of goods and servcices, as well as peoples’ commutes. Otherwise, companies and people may leave the area. Perhaps the smart ones are already.

    Even worse, if there is a natural disaster or some event where people have to evacuate or there needs to be emergency aid, I don’t know how our region would support it.

    This is bad and WE need to do something. So not just to throw darts…

    -A WS in the triangle could make the bus a real alternative for people who currently do not take it due to awkward transfers. It may also be a better use of the buses servicing WS.
    -Have some express buses that go to places other than downtown (light rail station, Bellevue, Redmond, etc)
    -Some cities limit trucks on certain lanes or during certain time periods. Could the city and port work together so that trucks carrying goods from a container ship do not enter the roadway between 7 and 9AM? It seems like every time a truck changes lanes, or goes up an exit/on ramp it has a huge ripple effect.
    -Try to finish some of the constuction projects up on a faster schedule???

    Of course, WE need to be willing to pay for something too.

    Lastly, biking may not be for you, but every bike on the rode is one less car in between in and where you want to go.

    Comment by MikeC — 1:21 pm May 11, 2011 #

  73. We just need more lanes to merge onto I-5. It goes from 3 lanes to one lane. Not very user friendly.

    Comment by Cherie — 1:21 pm May 11, 2011 #

  74. Evan your right. We need more transportation aoptions. Take the hole in the ground and build an underground park an ride. Make this a central hub for westseattle. Then on the roof we could have an urban park with vollyball, tennis, and basketball and dodgeball courts. Just look at what they did in down town burien. They put in a nice park and ride. This would also be good for local stores. This could take at least 2000 cars off the road.[each way]

    Comment by foy boy — 1:27 pm May 11, 2011 #

  75. You know how different color roses mean different things….red =love, yellow =friendship,….well here’s a simalar key for types of commuters ( per this comment thread)1. Car =lazy 2.Bus = has a lot of patience and time. 3. Watertaxi = smart. 4. Regular taxi= wealthy. 5. Walking =healthy 6. Bicycle= suicidal….. (Mind you I commute by car and don’t do it out of laziness as jn stated but out of necessity. )

    Comment by Cclarue — 1:45 pm May 11, 2011 #

  76. Actually CC, inspired by your suggestion, I’m thinking we need a commute quality/speed scale kind of like the old terrorist-threat-alert color chart. Whether it should be color-coded for which transportation you should try today or not, is open to discussion. As long as there’s a WHY BOTHER/JUST STAY HOME at some end of the scale. (Even after 3 1/2 years of fulltime WSB, my memories of daily commutes remain fresh, which is why what we encountered today struck me as so over-the-top…) P.S. We’ll be in the thick of things Monday reporting on how Day 1 of the Big Squeeze goes, and will appreciate reports from everyone on what they’re experiencing – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:48 pm May 11, 2011 #

  77. Bike = low blood pressure and body of an athlete :). I forgot to mention that as a benefit!

    Comment by lucky chick — 1:52 pm May 11, 2011 #

  78. This is why I’m moving. The first photo is down the street from my house. I turn out of my driveway into this when I drive, and have to bus through it when I don’t. Waste of life.

    Comment by ForADayOrALifetime — 1:52 pm May 11, 2011 #

  79. Its times like these that I appreciate leaving at 4:30am to start work at 5:15am in Everett.

    Comment by Lulu — 2:05 pm May 11, 2011 #

  80. I just got out of bed…what did I miss?

    Comment by Paul — 2:24 pm May 11, 2011 #

  81. big squeeze. meh.
    .
    i’m going to leave for work at like 3 a.m. monday. and for the next 2 years.

    Comment by redblack — 2:29 pm May 11, 2011 #

  82. Took aver 40 minutes to get from the morgan junction to downtown seattle via the express 54!! Glad I’m not the only one who thought this seemed out of the blue. Shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes!

    Comment by SAM — 2:34 pm May 11, 2011 #

  83. I miss West Seattle, but NOT the traffic! We moved to the Eastside partly to avoid the hassle of getting around town, knowing that it will surely only get worse as the Viaduct eventually comes down, density continues to increase in West Seattle, etc. As a native Seattle resident, I find it strange (but true) that the trips on I-90 to and from downtown Seattle are far better than the commutes from West Seattle, on average. The WS bridge traffic has cost me several times, at work and even with my downtown doctors.

    Park ‘n Rides – several of them – would be a good start. The West Seattle ferry is nice but hard to get to from much of West Seattle. More buses going to areas besides downtown Seattle would also help.

    Sadly, I don’t see any solutions coming anytime soon. Good luck, everyone, I have a feeling you will all need it!

    Comment by Mary — 2:38 pm May 11, 2011 #

  84. Commutes have been much worse than this an were regularly so in the late 90′s. Way before the urban infill we see today. Most cities, not just ours, can be significantly impacted by accidents in key places and it does happen. Building more roads doesn’t equate to the problem going away–ie metro areas of California. Having multiple commute options helps the most. Bike if you can or have the desire, ride the bus or water taxi or drive. Ultimately you’re the one that chooses to feel inconvenienced, or not, by your choice. We all have the capability to adapt, the follow through is the question

    Comment by Dawson — 2:50 pm May 11, 2011 #

  85. Cyclists mess up the flow of Metro Transit on 3rd Avenue. Buses get stuck behind groups or solo cyclists on 3rd and then get behind schedule. The snowball effect then takes over and the buses never recover their lost time due to chugging along at a snails pace behind the bikes. This is not to bash cyclists, just stating the obvious from behind the wheel….

    Comment by Anon This Round — 2:52 pm May 11, 2011 #

  86. Again. This wasn’t a West Seattle thing. I work in Redmond and get there at 7(7:20 today). Everyone else who commutes usually gets in around 8. No one else was here until 9 or 9:30/

    Comment by Jeff — 3:00 pm May 11, 2011 #

  87. And I hate to break it to folks. But long commutes are a part of urban life.

    Comment by Jeff — 3:01 pm May 11, 2011 #

  88. Yes, more commuter options would be great MikeC. More ways to get to and from w. seattle, given that there are only two ways into and out of w.seattle, you’d think the city would make a major highway out of our measly bridge. I lived in Burien before moving to w. seattle a year ago and could get downtown faster from burien than north admiral. It shouldn’t be that way.

    Comment by CJL — 3:04 pm May 11, 2011 #

  89. I love how people have to give their personal reasons for why they can’t bike or bus to work. No one is saying that biking is the only way to go and that everyone should do it. No one is saying that pregnant women should stop being so lazy and hop on a bike. If you’re a construction worker hauling ladders and stuff around to jobs, then fine, don’t ride a bike; that would be ludicrous.
    .
    We’re merely pointing out that it *is* a very viable option for a large portion of the work force whose day consists of getting from home to work, staying in their workplace all day, then getting back to work. And by the way, who says you can’t ride a bike to client meetings? I do it all the time (up to about 5 miles from my office, which is the vast majority of my meetings).
    .
    And re: showering, I’ve pointed out in other threads (including showing my math) that the money a daily car commuter could save by bicycling to work could *more* than pay for the cost of a monthly gym membership, especially at current gas prices. Personally, I laugh every time I bike by the gas station and see the price creeping up, and calculating how much money I’m saving every month!

    Comment by 2wheels a-go-go — 3:05 pm May 11, 2011 #

  90. paul: well, as near as i can figure, this morning poster “terry” went rolling down admiral at 84 mph, evidently to get to the nitelite, a bar on 2nd avenue downtown, by 10 a.m. by 11:25, he was blacked out, but he somehow managed to notice that “catlady” laughed at his first post. so he professed his love for her while soliciting a ride from downtown to admiral. evidently he reluctantly drove back to the chelan cafe, where he drank until almost 1 p.m., when they cut him off. at some point, he again solicited “catlady” for a ride. it’s hard to say, though, if his last cryptic post (“out of gas”) referred to a lack of fuel for his vehicle or his level of physical energy.
    .
    other than that, you didn’t miss anything.

    Comment by redblack — 3:08 pm May 11, 2011 #

  91. i totally apologize for my last post. i was wrong to post that.
    .
    ’cause if terry did 84 mph down admiral, that means he must have left around 6 a.m.
    .
    and for the record, he only solicited catlady for a ride once.
    .
    i swear i won’t bring this up again.

    Comment by redblack — 3:32 pm May 11, 2011 #

  92. I love WS but it makes me sad that there are no transit options for this area. My office is in Ravenna just N. of the university…three bus/2 bus change commute…after a couple of bicyclists died in bike/car accidents on 35th my interest in biking pretty much disappeared. But I would pay to take the light rail, the monorail or even the fabulous trolly line that used to be here. Do I have to wait until I’m too old to use them before we get some civilized transit planning here?

    Comment by heather — 3:38 pm May 11, 2011 #

  93. Funny you should mention meetings, 2wheels – I always ask clients (mostly scientists and engineers, but also agency and community leaders, attorneys, political figures) I meet with if I can show up straight off my bike, and they always respond by telling me how so-and-so bike commutes, or they saw a race at Seward, or they have a group workout class… and when I show up, I always get questions about my riding and offers of snacks. Perk :).
    Not once have I been met with disdain. And they cough up $140/hour for the experience (nope, I don’t get to keep the whole sum).

    Comment by lucky chick — 3:38 pm May 11, 2011 #

  94. Nothing to apologize for, that was a great recap! Only fault is with “Terry”. He should be down at the Tug where they have a sense of humor.

    Comment by BAR — 3:45 pm May 11, 2011 #

  95. yeah, it’s all those cyclists slowing down the buses on 3rd…that’s the ticket! It couldn’t be the sheer number of buses stopping and starting and changing lanes to *pick up bus riders along their routes* or *the amount of allowable (and unallowable scofflaw drivers)* that slow down the buses…? Just maybe?

    No, not everyone can ride a bike, and none of the cyclists here, including me say that everyone must ride a bike (my spouse cannot due to job and I don’t bug him about it). But it is an option to consider and it’s easier than most people think, even without shower facilities. I rode my bike to work for several years with no shower facilities and learned to clean up nice and neat without one.

    And as far as those getting sick of hearing about the “bike option” well, I sometimes get sick of hearing about all the traffic problems but that doesn’t mean it’s not a viable topic.

    Comment by AJL — 3:46 pm May 11, 2011 #

  96. Redblack, Catwoman wont write me back. Can you pick me up at Mayor Nickles spot? we’re drinkin PBR.

    Comment by Terry — 3:49 pm May 11, 2011 #

  97. As much as it may be “shaking a fist at the sky,” I love it that there’s a forum where WS people can go when the traffic is ridonkulous, and vent. I just read through all the comments and I feel better.

    Comment by birdgeek — 4:00 pm May 11, 2011 #

  98. terry can you ask him to come back?? omg i cant believe i just said that!!!out loud! in public!

    Comment by cclarue — 4:28 pm May 11, 2011 #

  99. Give it a rest cyclists. All you are doing is annoying people with your constant evangelizing, and that is not how you bring people over to your side.

    Clients don’t want to pay for me to commute via bicycle; they want the most efficient use of my time; even the green ones who want help making their IT infrastructure have less of an impact on the environment.

    Mother nature programs us in our DNA to spend the least amount of energy required to complete a task. You will never break out of that. Only people who enjoy riding in some way (the desire to have moral superiority over another is one way people enjoy it, it seems) or have no fiscal ability to do otherwise will ride.

    Cyclists are still a fringe commute community; what would happen if the numbers doubled and tripled; would the bike lanes as they are now be adequate? Would the integration of cars and cycles on the same streets still hold up? Methinks not….

    Comment by Tracy White — 4:28 pm May 11, 2011 #

  100. @ Redblack. Buy you a drink?

    Comment by malcolm — 4:29 pm May 11, 2011 #

  101. Pretty defensive for a response to a bunch of people offering options and help.
    .
    *My* DNA must not have gotten the memo that I can’t break out of the lazy cycle – it keeps urging me to stay fit.

    Comment by lucky chick — 4:47 pm May 11, 2011 #

  102. @Tracy White … Thank you

    Comment by cclarue — 4:48 pm May 11, 2011 #

  103. Funny how many people just hate cyclists! I know all of you have had people run you off the road when you were just minding your own business and riding legally. Not to hijack too much, but I just attribute it to frustration that I’m getting somewhere, the anonymity of a car, selfishness (they don’t care if they kill me, as long as they get home for dinner), and jealousy (I used to envy those cyclists for their rippin’ bods, but I never hated them for it :)). Weird.

    Comment by amalia — 4:59 pm May 11, 2011 #

  104. I dont hate the cyclists. I just do not like getting stuck behind them. I feel the opposite of what you say I have no envy when they go faster than me which isnt often. I only wish they could go faster say something like….the speed limit. But no the ones I seem to encounter are going half the posted speed limit holding me up and I do not want to hit them or have to go into an oncoming lane of traffic to pass them and risk my life or some innocent person all so bicycle bob could get his workout in that day. I get mine in too but I do it at the gym.

    Comment by cclarue — 5:14 pm May 11, 2011 #

  105. Wow. One day of bad traffic and everyone flips out. Get over it, people, it happens.

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 6:24 pm May 11, 2011 #

  106. To all the bike evangelists…

    I seriously thought about buying a bike and riding it back and forth to work while I was sitting at a stop light on the lower bridge one day where I watched several bicyclists ride by. Then 2 minutes later I witnessed one of those bicyclists and their bike get creamed by a 18 wheeler who didn’t even see them. I’m glad you get your endorphin rush by biking 40 miles everyday while wearing ridiculously tight shorts, but I’ll stick with my car and resign myself to carpooling to do my part.

    Comment by Squish — 6:30 pm May 11, 2011 #

  107. Can’t help it…this is what the discussion is beginning to sound like :)
    http://www.wavsource.com/snds_2011-05-08_1514477426460548/tv/misc/peanuts_teacher.wav

    Comment by MB — 6:34 pm May 11, 2011 #

  108. Yeah, sorry, I should have capped the offtopic drinking discussion and the classic bikes-vs.-cars sidetrack a lot sooner. Both now hereby capped.

    Comment by WSB — 6:45 pm May 11, 2011 #

  109. @lucky chick: you are suuuper annoying. None of your points applied to me (and I’m a healthy, active 27 year old).

    @2 wheels 2 go: Yes, there ARE bicyclists on here saying that the majority of people should bike to work. This is ludicrous. I work 20 miles away – this would make it at LEAST an hour-long commute both ways; who says I want to spend 2 + hours working out when I prefer running and yoga in the morning or at night? I don’t want to combine my commute and workout: is that OKAY with you??
    Also, you say we could afford a gym membership: yeah, I already have one. At ALL STAR, which is in West Seattle. Where I work there isn’t a gym anywhere nearby (I teach in a different district). So you’re saying I should pay for a 2nd gym membership in another town, shower, and hop back on my bike to travel to work? Crazy.

    There are so many logistics to consider with biking, and the defense against traffic should not be “Hey everybody! Just slap on some spandex in any weather and bike to work!” Have a great time with your biking (which is a little embarrassing for me as you’re trying to conquer a hill and I’m driving 2 mph behind you…). Don’t assume others can or even want to partake in it.

    Comment by Sara — 7:02 pm May 11, 2011 #

  110. p.s. Thank you WSB, for doing this post. After a very frustrating morning it was nice to visit this site and see others’ comments.

    There was no traffic on I-5 at 7:50am this morning. Just from West Seattle. I will really miss Alki and all my neighborhood businesses when I move this summer. :( This will only get 10 times worse when 99 is down to 2 lanes.

    Comment by Sara — 7:13 pm May 11, 2011 #

  111. Wow! I live and work in West Seattle and leave the peninsula probably once a month. Today was one of those days trying to run some errands down in Southcenter (which is also a traffic disaster due to construction). At 10:15 this morning getting across the bridge was an ordeal. I thought, “isn’t traffic usually cleared up by this time? THIS IS WHY I NEVER LEAVE WEST SEATTLE” and lo and behold today earns the worst traffic in 5 years award with 100+ comments.

    Comment by Monosyllabic Girl — 7:31 pm May 11, 2011 #

  112. I took advantage of being stranded in WS by shopping and having a late lunch in the junction with the family. Keepin’ it in the community! I probably ran into a few of you…

    Sorry I egged Terry on – I’m just a sucker for that type of sense of humor. :)

    Comment by catlady — 7:49 pm May 11, 2011 #

  113. Soo…Is there still no consensus why the traffic was so very terrible in West Seattle (and beyond) today?
    SBUX gawking? Timing of lights? Raining after a sunny day? Accidents on other freeways? A little bit of all these things??

    Comment by ad — 7:51 pm May 11, 2011 #

  114. Bottom line is that authorities blame it on some I-5 crashes. There also reportedly was some trouble on 99. Kind of scarier that there is no consensus – easier to deal with something when we can say “oh, it was that horrible crash at … ” Here’s hoping tomorrow is better! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:54 pm May 11, 2011 #

  115. The monorail would have been finished by now and would have been another option for many but nooooo….

    Comment by jiggers — 8:21 pm May 11, 2011 #

  116. All I can do when I see pictures of traffic jams like this is laugh.

    Comment by JN — 8:33 pm May 11, 2011 #

  117. Leaders, Leaders!…. Community Spokespersons, Politicians…. Are you listening?????
    This is serious stuff! Ignore the community values and pay the consequences!

    WE WANT “smooth traffic flows including transit (many mini buses running everywhere??) and most folks embrace the share the road concept as long as it does not SLOW DOWN THE COMMUTE.

    Leaders: Make it happen! DO NOT CREATE Gridlock! (Mayor McGinn are you listening??? I feel that your ear is in the wrong place!!!)

    Politicians! Help our community with transportation alternatives for getting around.
    We NEED ALL THE ALTERNATIVES. That’s the only way to make this work.

    Comment by out for a walk — 8:42 pm May 11, 2011 #

  118. DOT washington is a joke!!!
    They say they have to toll us when we pay the highest gas tax in the nation!!

    Comment by Cbo — 9:21 pm May 11, 2011 #

  119. Hopefully this was a one time thing. I totally agree with the idea of a park and ride but biking for most people is not a practical alternative. So bike zealots need to pipe down.

    Comment by DW — 10:04 pm May 11, 2011 #

  120. My commute began at 7:50am from Arbor Heights, arrived in North Bend (yes, that’s my daily commute) at 9:25am.
    I can’t wait for the toll to start on 520, and see the cluster on I-90.
    Definitely don’t want to leave my zip code, but I don’t feel like scrambling eggs in my car either.
    June will tell.

    Comment by Trick — 10:11 pm May 11, 2011 #

  121. A bicycle makes a good wheel chair if you find walking or sitting in a car for long periods of time physically challenging.

    Comment by Kathy — 10:52 pm May 11, 2011 #

  122. Thumbs up to the bikers for getting vehicles off the roads! Every little effort helps.

    Bike to work day is May 20th.

    Comment by Cowpie — 11:37 am May 12, 2011 #

  123. Tracy White – thank you.
    .
    Lucky Chick – we get it. You are incredibly awesome.

    Comment by pie — 1:13 pm May 12, 2011 #

  124. Seeing the WSB’s post on this topic does help relieve some frustration after experiencing the often times long commute over the West Seattle Bridge (eastbound). WSB, I salute you! We all know that the local news channels and radio stations rarely offer much in the way of updates about our traffic dilemmas. It is so easy to forget us.

    I, for one, am not really interested in hearing DOT’s explanation for why we are waiting on the bridge for over an hour to get across (eastbound). Ok there is an accident on I-5 or I-90 somewhere that happened over an hour ago and it is wreaking havoc across the Puget Sound, the roadways of which and god awful lane merges are meant for a smaller city.

    Instead, I would like to hear how DOT and the City of Seattle plan to improve their ability to more efficiently CLEAR accidents from our roadways and get people to where they need to be on time. (Quit wasting money on those stupid “automated variable speed technology” signs. Those are an insult to our collective intelligence.)

    Also, how about keeping TRUCKS off the eastbound bridge during a peak commute morning hour? Don’t trucks have a reasonable alternative under the bridge or West Marginal Way?

    All of this is going to be heightened with the 99 and tunnel thing, whatever that schedule is, and so it would be nice to start discussing improvements or alternatives now.

    Sincerely,

    west seattle resident

    Comment by Katie — 5:49 pm May 12, 2011 #

  125. I love how this town’s leadership is completely impotent to solve the traffic problem, so everyone’s solution is “well you shouldn’t be driving anyway.”

    That’s how we got into this situation to begin with. Instead of just biting the bullet and increasing highway capacity, we spend billions on idealistic public transit solutions because that supposedly aligns with our values. The end result is, per mile, the most expensive lightrail in the U.S.– one that doesn’t actually go anywhere– and tentative plans to build, lol, a *tunnel* that goes *around* Lake Washington. It’s embarrassing.

    People in the U.S. drive cars. That’s reality.

    The day some cute train plan solves this problem will be the day everyone moves to a city that behaves as though people actually live there.

    Oh wait– I meant to say we should just ride horses to work.

    Comment by shblash — 8:41 pm May 26, 2011 #

Sorry, comment time is over.

All contents copyright 2014, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^