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(Top L, north of 1st Av. S. Bridge; top R, 1st @ Holgate; below L, I-5 on south end of downtown; below R, 12th headed for bridge to Beacon Hill, where there’s alternate WS Bridge access)
The afternoon commute is under way. Updates to come!
4:22 PM UPDATE: Have been offline for a while – asked for a chance to visit Metro’s Transit Control Center to understand how the rerouting of buses works. They were just making a change in the West Seattle lines’ routing when we stepped in to look and listen for a bit (thanks to Metro’s Linda Thielke for accommodating our request). We also learned – they don’t get any more warning of trains or “trainbuilding” than the general public does. (Added – Ben B sent a photo of the train his Route 54 bus almost got stuck waiting for)
All they can do is see one coming, and a driver that sees one on the horizon can radio in and say “Is it OK if I divert to …” wherever. The TCC is in SODO. Four operators handle communication with up to 1,200 buses. More tidbits to come. Overall status right now seems to be … slow. On the way here an hour ago, we hit a backup on the eastbound bridge by 1st South. Off to rove.
4:32 PM UPDATE: Particularly if you have busing, walking, biking, Water Taxi’ing in your commute home – take note it’s started to rain. Light so far. We’ve been reminded that if 4th or 1st is slow going, try 6th heading south toward the 1st Avenue South Bridge, then cut over to 4th. We’re on 6th now, looks good.
5:01 PM UPDATE: Parked just off Hanford along the detour toward the low bridge, to see how this goes for a while. Train warning lights just came on. Couple buses will be stuck behind it, along with at least one bicycle, and the slow-going cars back on 1st. Wait – the warning lights went off without any train having come along. P.S. That earlier rain shower was isolated. Clearing to the west now, even a hint of sun.
5:06 PM UPDATE: The train showed up – went forward – backed up. Noticing a safety-jacketed officer standing by the tracks too. Now the train goes forward. Anyway, if you’re stuck on 1st South trying to get to the detour – that’s the problem. Two buses are waiting just on Hanford, who knows how many on 1st.
5:09 PM UPDATE: The gates went up – now they’re down again – now they’re up. Is it like this every afternoon? After a minute, open again. There goes the 55 and the 119 (Vashon), almost over the tracks. And … here comes that locomotive, all alone now going backward.
5:17 PM UPDATE: Twice more in less than two minutes, the gates are down again for that train-building. Seems to be pulling tanker cars backward, northbound. *Happened twice again a few minutes later. And at 5:28, there go the 37, 125 and 116. We learned from Metro during our aforementioned Traffic Control Center visit how they are deploying the extra buses, which are paid for with “viaduct mitigation money” from the state – they are under express orders NOT to stay in the yard. Some for example might be seen waiting at strategic spots in West Seattle. When they get word that a certain route is badly delayed, the extra bus might be moved onto the route to start picking up where the other one won’t be getting to any time soon. Also, some buses that are going out of service might be suddenly told they need to go jump in for route xx.
5:34 PM UPDATE: This one is a different train – looks like a fullfledged freight train, hauling the doublestacked containers. The 113 to Shorewood is stuck behind it. Let’s check the other travel routes … High bridge looks better than low bridge, for starters. 4th looks better than 1st. *After 7 minutes, the train has now passed and traffic is moving westward down Hanford again. We’re going to move on … if we can!
5:53 PM UPDATE: The same double-stack train is “train-building” too and just stopped on the tracks for at least five minutes. Elsewhere in downtown, Shari warns via Facebook of “horrible” traffic – “gridlock.” If you’re going to head down 1st or 4th, go for the 1st Avenue South Bridge, don’t even think of the Hanford detour. It’s been train after train after train. Public-service announcement, though – consider turning your engine off while waiting on a train that clearly isn’t close to being clear. Even if you only turn off for a minute, we’ve heard, it helps.
6:04 PM UPDATE: This is interesting. Three buses just made a run for it up to the head of the line and turned left on the frontage road parallel with the trains, southbound. We did learn at the Transit Control Center that they have to make decisions on the fly.
6:20 PM UPDATE: Broke free after another train … and then suddenly the backup was clear, and it was a really fast trip to 1st Avenue South Bridge, off at the turnoff for South Park/Highland Park, up the hill and on toward HQ.
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