Update: SDOT tells council committee that double-rate de-icer caused Dec. 2 crashes; Friday’s backup also somewhat explained

December 10, 2013 at 11:01 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 60 Comments

(Dec. 2: De-icer-slick, closed-to-traffic bridge; photo by Christopher Boffoli)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

In a briefing before the City Council Transportation Committee, SDOT has just admitted what really caused the de-icer debacle eight days ago, when multiple crashes happened on the de-icer-slickened West Seattle Bridge, subsequently shut down until it could be sanded (WSB as-it-happened coverage here).

It was NOT the fault of possible driver error, NOT the fault of too-warm temperatures, both of which were cited by an SDOT spokesperson afterward, but instead: The magnesium-chloride de-icer liquid was applied at twice the rate it should have been. (We had asked about operator error, too, that day, asking SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan via e-mail: “So there was nothing different in the formula or the amount?” His reply: “Not that we are currently aware of.”)

The discussion about the de-icer problem was followed by a shorter exchange about last Friday morning’s 2 1/2-hour lane blockage on the Viaduct (WSB as-it-happened coverage here) – why that couldn’t be cleared sooner, and why Metro didn’t reroute sooner, given the massive resulting backup:

The answer to that last matter was a “facepalm,” as one person put it on Twitter – the city’s Traffic Management Center is usually staffed at that hour by interns, and on Friday morning, an intern who had not worked there before was on duty. Which apparently explains the first, belated SDOT tweet about the lane blockage:

Just before 8, Metro finally texted word of a reroute, as we tweeted:

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW, WITH MEETING VIDEO ADDED AT THE END, AND POST-MEETING FOLLOWUP)

But let’s backtrack. The following, added at 11:19 am, details how the discussion unfolded during this morning’s Council committee briefing, which just wrapped up:

The committee’s chair, West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, opened the briefing noting: “People want to know what happened, how in the world did that happen, and what can be done to keep that from happening again,”

SDOT manager Steve Pratt – who also had suggested temperatures and speed were to blame (see his memo at the end of our 12/2 coverage) – led the discussion of the de-icer problem that closed the high bridge for more than two hours on Monday of last week.

Pratt talked about the “various dire forecasts of the storm that was supposed to come” and said SDOT was “monitoring it closely,” including the impending Monday Night Football game. A strategy session resulted in decisions to “pre-treat” the West Seattle high bridge, Alaskan Way Viaduct, and other elevated structures including the Aurora Bridge. “We were trying to be pro-active,” he said, and noted that they “looked at five different forecasts.” He said one of those suggested there would be at least an inch of sleet between 1 and 3 pm on that day. The application started around 11:30 am. Seattle Police called at 12:40 to say “You’ve got a problem, SDOT, because the material you’re putting down is causing slippery conditions,” after crashes started happening. SPD advised SDOT at 1:02 pm they would close the bridge both ways and wanted a sand-spreader truck and that they wouldn’t open the bridge until we got that done “because it was too slick.”

It was an “unfortunate event,” Pratt said, “a plain and simple error. … we made a mistake, he [the truck driver] was applying the magnesium chloride at twice the rate he should have been.”

The error was “not somebody just training on the job,” added outgoing SDOT director Peter Hahn: “The dial was set at 30 instead of 15.” “Gallons per lane mile,” elaborated Pratt. Hahn continued, “It’s really not that mysterious, the setting was off, and a mistake was made.”

Pratt also said that it was advised not to apply the substance, known commercially as FreezGard, if the road surface is 40 degrees or warmer – and at the time, it was 38 degrees, but “the forecast was for the temperatures to drop fairly rapidly into the evening.” That didn’t happen, he noted; sleet/graupel didn’t happen until much later that night.

SDOT said it apologizes both to those who were involved in crashes and those who were inconvenienced by the bridge closure.

The discussion also touched on authorities saying they couldn’t see the 99 offramp to the West Seattle Bridge and didn’t know about at least one crash there.

Regarding communication, SDOT said that if they are going to apply de-icer during the daytime, which is not SOP, they need to let Seattle Police and the public know.

Now, to the Friday problem – why it took 2 1/2 hours to clear a one-car crash, and also why Metro didn’t reroute quickly.

That section of road had been treated with “correctly applied magnesium chloride” about two hours earlier, SDOT said, and that’s about all it knew.

Renewing our inquiries yesterday, SDOT pointed us to SPD, and that’s what happened during today’s briefing.

Captain Joe Kessler of the Southwest Precinct said that a “disabled car” and “minor accident” played into it and officers were sent over at about 7:47 am. It was reported around 6:15 am; we took this frame grab from a traffic cam at 6:45:

Almost an hour later, still there:

And an hour after that, the vehicle was finally hooked to a tow truck:

Officers from other sectors were the primary responders, Capt. Kessler said, and “ended up being tied up on other things, so when they finally send officers from West Seattle … they had a tough time getting there. … They actually spent quite a bit of time trying to get there. Once they got there, it was just a matter of trying to get tow trucks there. My understanding is that they had to send a second truck with enough material to clean it up … so they had to go through the same thing … Part of the problem is that with all the construction going on, once there is a bottleneck, it’s kind of tough to get it cleared out, so one thing we need to look a little closer at … plans for closing the bridge and rerouting traffic around there .. On Friday, it was just one of those circumstances, bad timing, heavy traffic, just hard to get in there and get it cleared out.”

What about tow trucks stationed on approaches to the bridge? asked Rasmussen.

“Where would you put them?” asked Hahn.

Rasmussen suggested that conditions were even worse now than when the idea was first proposed under former Mayor Greg Nickels and perhaps SDOT could take a closer look.

The focus turned to the fact that Metro didn’t call for reroutes until the lane had been blocked, and backups intensifying, for an hour and a half. Why didn’t they get the word? Rasmussen wondered.

That’s when an SDOT rep in the briefing explained that the Traffic Management Center often relies on interns – and one who hadn’t worked there before was pulling the shift on Friday morning, so word about the seriousness of the bridge backup didn’t get out – to Metro or anyone else who relied on city word about such things – until 8 am, more than an hour and a half after the blockage.

Rasmussen suggested rather calmly that they might want to fix that. SDOT said that it will be fixed next year. He suggested maybe they move it up a few weeks and get professional staff into the Traffic Management Center starting perhaps around 6 am, when commuters hit the roads. He also mentioned again that it might be of value to traffic managers to keep an eye on WSB for a clue to how serious a problem like this was getting.

The archived video of this meeting will be available via Seattle Channel later – perhaps by day’s end. We’ll add it here when available.

3:04 PM: Here it is. Pull the time bar to about 64 minutes in, to jump ahead to the discussion of these incidents:

ADDED 3:37 PM: Just talked with Councilmember Rasmussen to follow up on all this. For one, he says, he wants to see SDOT and SPD return to the committee within a month or so with a rapid-response plan for the 99 corridor and West Seattle Bridge. That would include “monitoring (traffic) at least 6-9 am and 4 to 7 pm, (with) a plan for rapidly towing and clearing obstructions, and real-time information for the public.” That would include every tool available – text alerts, Twitter, the readerboards installed over major arterials/bridges.

For West Seattle, especially, because as he notes, “We are constrained now – there are so few lanes and so few options, that when there’s a (problem like this) you lose half a day, and, you could lose lives – as I pointed out (during the hearing), people can’t get to the hospital.”

Such a plan might involve, if feasible, temporarily shutting down access to the bridge or Viaduct to bring in a tow truck or whatever was needed, clear the obstruction, and move on – instead of having the tow truck try to slog through the stopped traffic.

With SDOT director Hahn leaving, we asked him, what’s the plan for accountability? Rasmussen said he expects Mayor-elect Murray will be appointing an interim director while conducting a national search for a permanent SDOT leader. And the Traffic Management Center should have “trained professionals, not an intern.”

To the de-icer error, he said it’s ironic since SDOT has worked to improve its winter-storm response in the past three years, but at least he “appreciated their willingness” to admit the error now, while agreeing it was unfortunate they were quick to lay the blame elsewhere the day it happened.

60 Comments

  1. And Capt Kessler TOTALLY gave mad props to the WSB as being the #1 go to source for people (including SPD). He even said that sometimes “people call the Blog before calling 911″. SDOT REALLY messed up here. Agenda item for the WSTC tonight everyone!!!

    Comment by AmandaKH — 11:43 am December 10, 2013 #

  2. Does SDOT have any accountability? Lame answers both in this committee meeting and right after de-icer mistake. Nice to know our fragile traffic state is dependent on inexperienced interns while the 100k plus salaried managers get to sleep in and be blissfully unaware and unaccountable .

    Comment by Seatown — 11:59 am December 10, 2013 #

  3. It’s too bad there aren’t any sensors or live webcams they could use to monitor traffic conditions.

    Oh, wait…

    Comment by sw — 12:01 pm December 10, 2013 #

  4. Speaking of which, I’m continuing to clean up the story, including adding visuals – I took a few screengrabs from the traffic cam showing the crash last Friday morning and they have been added; I have one more somewhere that showed backed-up 99.
    .
    Seatown – Re: accountability, the head of SDOT, Peter Hahn, has already announced his departure (in the announcement by incoming Mayor Murray of department heads not staying). Re: internal accountability, don’t know, so far. Will be interested to get CM Rasmussen’s reaction later – the meeting had one more big agenda item, the Bicycle Master Plan, left after this one, so I dropped out of the feed – will check that briefing via video later. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 12:03 pm December 10, 2013 #

  5. The Traffic Incident Management office is seriously only staffed with an intern during rush hour? You have got to be kidding?

    Comment by on board — 12:07 pm December 10, 2013 #

  6. Rasmussen suggested rather calmly that they might want to fix that.
    .
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. * Facepalm *

    Comment by Mookie — 12:10 pm December 10, 2013 #

  7. Addressing the Friday backup – when I passed the one-car accident on 99, it was almost 7:00 am. They are really trying to minimize the impact. I would say the communication delay was 2 hours not 1 1/2. The accident happened shortly after 6:00 am, by 6:15 the backup was just south of Starbucks Headquarters and growing by the second, that is where I got caught up in it. From there it took 45 min to get to the Seneca St. exit.

    When I passed the accident, just before 7:00 am, there were 2 police cars with their lights flashing at the scene. If they are not able to respond and clear the scene what the heck are they doing there in the first place?? Really only officers from a certain ‘sector’ are allowed to call for a tow-truck?? That seems really messed up. Umm there is an accident, its blocking traffic, causing massive back-ups, there are officers on the scene, but they are not allowed to handle it? Really??

    Comment by Franci — 12:19 pm December 10, 2013 #

  8. the worst part about it all is that I’m not at all surprised by the SDOT responses.

    Comment by Colleen — 12:34 pm December 10, 2013 #

  9. Franci – totally agree! This was one of the worst commutes I’ve had, and I didn’t leave home until 9:15, nearly three hours after the initial incident.
    -
    If they had completely closed the road for a short while and sent a tow-truck the wrong direction up the Western offramp, this could have been cleared up by 7 a.m.

    Comment by Kim — 12:35 pm December 10, 2013 #

  10. We will not allow then to minimize the impact. West Seattle will no longer be treated as a revenue-generating afterthought to the rest of the City. The incoming Mayor, SDOT, and the Council are all on notice.

    Comment by West Seattle Transportation Coalition — 12:42 pm December 10, 2013 #

  11. Interesting “it might be of value to traffic managers to keep an eye on WSB for a clue to how serious a problem like this was getting.”

    I agree with Franci – I left WS a lot earlier than when they’re claiming the accident happened and was caught up in traffic for over an hour. You could see the flashing lights of the two patrol cars from almost back to the entrance from the WSB.

    If SDOT are claiming liability for the accidents that happened on both Monday and Friday, I wonder how that will play out for insurance purposes.

    Comment by Kimberley — 12:43 pm December 10, 2013 #

  12. There are times I would like to snap a photo of the backups I see daily; Mercer Street, 99 etc and sent the photos to the SDOT powers that be. I am getting so tired of this “blind spot” for traffic reporting and even more tired of the coddling “there, there, pat on the head” approach. I hope this is the beginning of some positive changes.

    Comment by me on 28th Ave SW — 12:57 pm December 10, 2013 #

  13. …and, for what it’s worth I was on the West Seattle bridge at 6:40 on Monday December 2nd and all three lanes were backed up. At that point, I could not tell where the accident was but it was very clear once I got onto the onramp to 99. Sure wish they would use the fancy electronic warning signs to tip us off ahead of time.

    Comment by me on 28th Ave SW — 1:01 pm December 10, 2013 #

  14. Interns, the bain of our existence.

    Comment by Art critic — 1:01 pm December 10, 2013 #

  15. We live in a city staffed and run by absolute morons Seattle the true definition of the blind leading the blind. It’s as if the city planners have never been to a major metropolitan city. i.e. NY, LA. We have Failing/aging infrastructure, no plans for the future that actually solve the transit problems, bridges roads schools in utter disrepair. Population only increases & with that more tax dollars than ever before in history. Yet with all that “extra $” nothing seems to get built that actually solves the problem. In a short 10 years or sooner Seattle will be in total gridlock.

    Comment by WestSeaSince76 — 1:11 pm December 10, 2013 #

  16. @Art critic: That’s what happens when you turn the youth workforce into indentured servants.

    Comment by iamseriodotus — 1:12 pm December 10, 2013 #

  17. Glad to see our tax dollars going to interns. SDOT needs to think a bit more about the city as a whole and how traffic functions, not just intersection by intersection.

    On that note, why is there not a dedicated bus lane from WS to Downtown. At least then commuters could get through on transit….oh wait, they are cutting that back too.

    Comment by T — 1:12 pm December 10, 2013 #

  18. SSOTS (So sick of this s***)!

    As far as tow trucks.. Why would Mr Hahn say, “where would we put them?” .. There is a an extra wide shoulder on the east side of northbound 99 between the Seneca and Western Ave exits.

    Comment by enough — 1:26 pm December 10, 2013 #

  19. When does one get to the point of saying “enough is enough” with living in WS and spending hours idling on the bridge each day? Another +15 minutes to the average commute? Another hour? Cynical as it may sound, it’s a serious question I’m asking. I’ve been here only 5 years and each year it gets significantly worse. Another year or two and I’ll be able to walk downtown faster than drive.

    Comment by thattrafficguy — 1:26 pm December 10, 2013 #

  20. What seatown and westseasince76 said.
    This is a wake up call and SDOT is snoozin’. Get your act together.

    Comment by enough — 1:31 pm December 10, 2013 #

  21. WestSeaSince1976 — can you be any more disrespectful toward people with disabilities? WA was one of the first states to adopt ‘person first’ language in legislation. The effort was spearheaded by persons with cognitive disabilities who used to be referred to as ‘morons’.
    .
    While I’m not at all defending SDOT, I would point out that the insatiable demand for instantaneous availability of massive amounts of information that the public wants tailored to each individual’s commute has run into the brick wall of budget limitations. Seems the biggest mistakes (apparently) were lack of protocols for the intern to follow, such as which agencies and supervisors to contact and failure to adequately supervise the intern or to ensure that the intern had sufficient training. Anybody know how many cameras need to be monitored? Maybe TR can arrange a tour of the city’s control center and do a follow-up story.
    .
    WSTC — really? we’re the only neighborhood with traffic problems? The city is purposely screwing WS? Yes, these issues need to be brought to the attention of the responsible agencies and elected officials, but the rhetoric isn’t helpful.

    Comment by metrognome — 1:39 pm December 10, 2013 #

  22. Way to go! All of the leadership making the big bucks are suddenly not responsible for what happens – guess the janitor was not on duty, so they could’nt blame him/her. How bureaucratic.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 1:47 pm December 10, 2013 #

  23. Yeah, it sucks when people who make huge salaries drop the ball then either get to keep their jobs, probably get a raise every year, or get to move on to a higher paying job somewhere else like the last head of SDOT. I’m in the wrong line of work!

    Comment by enough — 1:51 pm December 10, 2013 #

  24. I do remember the tow truck on commute standby, when we had the single draw bridge. It would sit on Harbor Island. Please do not put a tow truck driver on the viaduct with a earthquake. Thats why we are getting
    the tunnel which has something blocking its way!

    Comment by Don — 2:03 pm December 10, 2013 #

  25. “SDOT said it apologizes both to those who were involved in crashes and those who were inconvenienced by the bridge closure.” Really? How many times have we heard something like that? Just once, I would like to see a department head called before the City Council and have their butt handed to them. Just once. “Rasmussen suggested rather calmly that they might want to fix that. SDOT said that it will be fixed next year. He suggested maybe they move it up a few weeks and get professional staff into the Traffic Management Center starting perhaps around 6 am, when commuters hit the roads.” Way to show some real supervision and expectations of city departments Mr. Rasmussen. Remember that when we go to elections by areas.

    The 99 incident reported at 6:15am and responded to at 7:47am. Wow. SPD is so badly staffed at that time of day that it takes 90 minutes to respond to an accident that is slowly shutting down access into the City of Seattle? So badly staffed that you have to call a police unit in from West Seattle that is just going to be as stuck in traffic as the thousands of others? I repeat – wow. Rasmussen also mentioned again that it might be of value to traffic managers to keep an eye on WSB for a clue to how serious a problem like this was getting. With all due respect to WSB and I love you, but SDOT is now going to figure out how to do their job by reading the WSB?

    I do not see that City Departments really care about the City of Seattle and its taxpaying residents. It’s just a job to them that could be done here, or Bellevue, or North Bend or wherever.

    Comment by KT — 2:07 pm December 10, 2013 #

  26. I know that sometimes WSDOT will report and respond to incidents on SR-99 (I mean they are building the tunnel). I have seen the WSDOT twitter gurus reference 99 problems here and there. Does anyone know the difference in when WSDOT and SDOT respond?

    Comment by Megan — 2:19 pm December 10, 2013 #

  27. KT, I’m sorry if it sounded otherwise in my hastily written narrative but basically what was being discussed was the fact that IN ADDITION to having their own systems, they should also stay in touch with the news flow to figure out what was going on. Not as a sole source. Not all neighborhoods have a 24-hour news service but if one with a major transportation chokepoint does have one- particularly one that collaborates with the community – keeping an eye on it should be part of the toolkit. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:22 pm December 10, 2013 #

  28. Metrognome–Of course we’re not the only neighborhood with traffic issues, but we arguably have the most restrictive transportation infrastructure (roads) into and out of downtown and beyond. We are, effectively, an island.

    SDOT-I’m glad you’re not blaming drivers (the general public) for Monday’s bridge mayhem. But your department and/or drivers have to responsibility for applying the de-icer at twice the recommended rate. Of course it was an accident (vs. malicious intent), but SDOT clearly has no procedure to double-check the application rate.

    Same for Friday morning’s debacle. If you had adequate procedures and/or management in place, it matters not if interns were on duty–there would be protocol to follow with an incident such as this.

    Mayor-elect Murray, take note: you’ve got alot of work do.

    Seattle was recently rated the most intelligent/educated city in the nation. Huh? Great, we can win the game app showdown easily, as long as the techies can compete from home. All our brainpower clearly does little to enhance getting around Seattle in the real world.

    I think we’re ready to hire the best gamers to figure out traffic flow and infrastructure, and those who’ve hoarded the most bit coins to figure out how to fund it!

    Comment by Ducky — 2:40 pm December 10, 2013 #

  29. No need to apologize, Tracy. WSB is first and best place to check for the events that affect our community.

    Comment by fiz — 2:53 pm December 10, 2013 #

  30. I seem to recall there used to be a WSDOT “Incident Response” vehicle that would be parked on the shoulder of the NB Viaduct. It wasn’t an actual tow truck so it may not have been able to immediately solve the problem Friday morning, but if nothing else I would hope they could have more quickly called for a tow or whatever to get the problem fixed!

    Comment by Jeff — 3:16 pm December 10, 2013 #

  31. What percentage of City of Seattle employees live in Seattle? I bet the number is both surprising and telling.

    Comment by Curious — 3:50 pm December 10, 2013 #

  32. Meanwhile, funding for buses has been slashed and routes are being cut.

    Still, commenters say things like “Population only increases & with that more tax dollars than ever before in history. Yet with all that “extra $” nothing seems to get built that actually solves the problem. In a short 10 years or sooner Seattle will be in total gridlock.”

    Show me that $ you speak of. You can’t build your way out of traffic congestion with increasing population. Look at LA freeways. Massive yet gridlocked. YOU are the traffic. Support mass transit funding. Single occupancy vehicle approach is doomed.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 4:04 pm December 10, 2013 #

  33. Well said Ducky. Traffic in and out of W/S will never get better and that is a fact. If I-5 is not moving then it backs up into W/S and flows off onto the side streets locking this place up. 99 tunnel won’t help as it’s two lanes can’t handle traffic it has today and then add tolls to use it. With all the building they are allowing here in W/S and south along with increased ferry traffic how can one even think traffic will get any better ? Need to get some people working at the city and SDOT that have some common sense and not worried about stirring things up. But I think it’s a little late as the damage is done. What we have now are people that care more about tourism and building and that’s great, but I think they better start figuring out how people here are going to get back and forth to work. Until they tear down the Convention Center and make I-5 a double decker with twice the flow capacity don’t expect things to change.

    Comment by wetone — 4:15 pm December 10, 2013 #

  34. @Metrognome – wssince76 was CLEARLY using the term moron under it’s accepted and non-controversial definition. People like you who overreact as a first response are more of a problem truth be told. You could have given him several alternatives, and explained that the word is offensive to some. Lighten up, and grab a dictionary.

    Further, you are very wrong about the “special case” of West Seattle transit – I went to the meeting downtown today – did you? No? Then you might not know our cuts are deeper and impact larger geographical areas than anywhere else in the city – that is from the mouth of one of the Metro reps. He pointed at the South West End map and said, “that’s the worst, West Seattle”. Do your research next time.

    Budget limitations? You do realize this is all manufactured right? OUR elected officials refuse, as a political move, to vote for transit funding that everyone (including themselves) have already admitted is needed.

    And why are you are slamming a group of people who are spending their own personal time to help solve a massive problem that effects thousands of people? Who does that after slamming someone else for not using a word the way YOU want them to use it? The WSTC formed because the city planners aren’t addressing the problems. We all know it’s easier for you to tear down than build up, but maybe you could take some of that vitriol and apply the energy to building something – like WSTC did.

    Comment by zark00 — 4:33 pm December 10, 2013 #

  35. ***News Flash***

    Even beautiful Bellevue and Friendly Kirkland has horrific traffic. Ever tried leaving Renton at 0800 AM? Or commuted from Mill Creek into Seattle at any hour?

    ROFL at the West Seattle Bridge complainers.

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 4:37 pm December 10, 2013 #

  36. Now close you eyes and imagine the same interns being paid $15 per hour….

    Comment by McFail — 4:42 pm December 10, 2013 #

  37. The traffic used to be great until all those sorry people moved into West Seattle after I did…

    ROFL

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 5:18 pm December 10, 2013 #

  38. There is a tow truck parking place in the 7:40am screen shot above. But it should not be necessary to have one standing by, because closing the other lane would have allowed a truck to approach from the opposing direction.

    Comment by dsa — 5:38 pm December 10, 2013 #

  39. Sure, blame the intern, not your lack of training or mismanagement.

    Comment by marco — 5:58 pm December 10, 2013 #

  40. New movement to create a transportation system to/from West Seattle–>;

    http://www.centran.org/

    Comment by Art Critic — 6:00 pm December 10, 2013 #

  41. Have the victims of the auto accidents filed claims with the city for damages to their vehicles?

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 6:03 pm December 10, 2013 #

  42. Not new, sadly. I wrote about it a year and a half ago:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2012/03/new-monorail-system-proposal-century-transportation-company/
    .
    But nothing has happened since. They didn’t even reply to my request for comment. – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 6:09 pm December 10, 2013 #

  43. If the deicer was applied by a veteran of SDOT, is there a checklist that must be gone over before driving the vehicle to ensure everything is set up correctly.

    I can see this kind of thing happening if trucks have multiple purposes. Then someone makes the mistake of assuming that all the setting are correct and running with it.

    Comment by Civik — 6:16 pm December 10, 2013 #

  44. “Show me that $ you speak of.”

    I’ll bite; I like these types of questions. Since 2000, we have gained roughly 60,000 new residents. Figure two per household on average, that is 30,000 newly occupied dwellings. On average, a dwelling is $2000 per year in property tax paid directly or indirectly. Also each dwelling spends roughly $200 per month on utilities. That equals about $180 million more per year in Seattle/King revenue in 2013 than in 2000. This does not count car tabs and other assorted local fees (I don’t have that info). My assertions could be off but I think it is in the ballpark.

    Comment by CandrewB — 6:34 pm December 10, 2013 #

  45. zark: I am not sure but metrognome may have been reacting to the expression ‘blind leading the blind’

    Comment by sam-c — 7:04 pm December 10, 2013 #

  46. Heads should roll at SDOT!! Drivers could have been injured or worse — heaven forbid — because of SDOT’s ineptness.

    Comment by Seattlite — 7:27 pm December 10, 2013 #

  47. The other thing to keep in mind about carpooling, vanpools and taking the bus? It took incentives like carpool lanes, park and rides and “express style” buses (that get to use carpool lanes)before outlying communities readily embraced them. I have been waiting for any sign of improvement to make the jump to public transit for NINE years, and it has only gotten worse in that time.
    *Strike One: monorail debacle
    *Strike Two: I have yet to catch a bus that made it out of WS from my neighborhood every time I’ve tried in the past six years(not ONCE!)
    *Strike Three: “Rapid” ride, still stuck in all the traffic the rest of are.

    Comment by me on 28th Ave SW — 7:30 pm December 10, 2013 #

  48. Way to go SDOT management! Blame the little guy. It was a good thing the ‘intern’ was on duty cause you sure needed a scapegoat. I’m nominating them for rotten boss of the year. I’m sure it was all the intern’s fault. I bet he/she turned the dial to 30 too.

    Comment by Bus_rider — 8:31 pm December 10, 2013 #

  49. You on 28th Ave….I’ll counter your “strike two.” I’ve commuted via bus every day since I’ve worked downtown (1 1/2 years, so ~600 trips?) and have arrived at my destination every single time. Yup, 100% success. But this isn’t really about transit. It’s primarily about SDOT applying too much deicer, and then about SDOT not having a way to manage and react to traffic problems. Solve those problems for everybody and stop the silly complaining about buses.

    Comment by Jay — 8:34 pm December 10, 2013 #

  50. This bus finder works pretty well–>

    http://pugetsound.onebusaway.org/

    Comment by Art Critic — 8:43 pm December 10, 2013 #

  51. I know traffic is everywhere. Being a parent with a child who has a medical condition that has required an ambulance ride during morning traffic, it’s scary! Traffic wasn’t this bad 7ish years ago. We also had all 4 lanes to use. My solution? Not sure. But I do know we should stop adding to it and STOP building more residential!!

    Comment by Bsmomma — 8:57 pm December 10, 2013 #

  52. Fire all professional SDOT employees and replace them with whiney internet trolls! Heads must roll. Better yet, heads on pikes! Better still, heads on pikes along the median of the West Seattle Bridge as a reminder that we have zero tolerance for errors! What would Kim Jong-un do?

    Comment by I. Ponder — 9:00 pm December 10, 2013 #

  53. Why are we nailing the intern to the wall here? Interns are good for many reasons but are only as good as their training and SDOTs protocols. I’m a fan of better staffing at the right times but not a fan of people claiming interns are useless. Better to find a good worker cheaply than to hire a bad worker without any on the job experience.

    Comment by Ben — 10:00 pm December 10, 2013 #

  54. @Jay, glad it has worked for you . In rereading my comment above I now see I omitted the word “snow”. I have not been able to catch a bus out of my neighborhood, in the snow, following the snow routes after multiple attempts. The reason I find this frustrating is that when there is a snow or ice storm there is a big push for the public to use transit (which is a great thing). After you experience what happens here in that circumstance, my comment may make more sense.

    Comment by me on 28th Ave SW — 10:12 pm December 10, 2013 #

  55. It appears SDOT is using this horrible deicer on 1st Ave bridge and all the way up Meyers Way. All roads are dry and perfect traction until you climb Meyers way and slip on the deicer. You can see the sheen like a wet road but worse. SDOT PLEASE STOP LAYING DOWN THIS CRAPPY PRODUCT THAT YOU PROBABLY PAID MILLIONS FOR!!!!!!!
    Great job SDOT. Plus now all of our vehicles will rust out like those on the east coast since we started allowing salt to be added to our roads. Maybe this is the crap killing off the starfish. Lifetime resident ready to leave. Seattle…mismanaged top to bottom.

    Comment by j — 12:46 am December 11, 2013 #

  56. Almost killed myself on deicer at a rest stop on I-90. It was pink and slimy.

    Comment by JoAnne — 6:41 am December 11, 2013 #

  57. I don’t know why people are obsessing about the intern. For me the crux of this story is that traffic congestion costs the Seattle economy billions of dollars in lost time, productivity and fuel. And on a weekday morning (during commuting hours!) SDOT was discovered asleep at the wheel. I’d like to think the $23 million annual traffic management budget (which is the largest percentage of SDOT’s overall budget) would actually include managing traffic.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 9:18 am December 11, 2013 #

  58. CJ, they were managing it. By sleeping in until the morning mess is over, their cars don’t contribute. ;)

    Comment by Civik — 10:09 am December 11, 2013 #

  59. @genesseehill, do you actually commute to Bellevue or Kirkland during rush hour? I commute to Bellevue every morning in rush hour from West Seattle and it takes me usually about an hour (granted there are no accidents, every accident seems to add at least 20 minutes), it takes 45 minutes for me to get out of West Seattle and across the bridge, it only takes me 10-15 minutes to get from I-90 to downtown Bellevue. I stayed with a relative in Redmond one night and commuting to Bellevue and it took 30 minutes in the “normal” rush hour over there. The only bad traffic I hit is just getting out of West Seattle and crossing the bridge. Kirkland and Bellevue aren’t on “islands” and don’t have to rely on just the WSB or Marginal way, plus most people on the eastside work on the eastside and don’t need to cross 520 or 90.

    Comment by Anonymous — 10:47 am December 11, 2013 #

  60. Close the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock.

    The majority of ferry traffic is headed downtown. Reroute those ferrys to the downtown terminals. It would greatly reduce traffic in west seattle and reduce the need to drive from the fauntleroy dock through west seattle.

    Comment by Seattleite — 8:25 am December 13, 2013 #

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