TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates; another bridge crash

January 28, 2014 at 6:45 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 52 Comments

6:45 AM: So far, nothing out of the ordinary reported on West Seattle’s main outbound/inbound routes. Here are the bridge cams:

And the northbound Alaskan Way Viaduct view:

Find more cameras, and other info, on the WSB Traffic page. We’ll update as always if/when we get word of anything you need to know.

7:56 AM: Police are checking out a report of a possible crash on the eastbound bridge near the 1st Avenue South offramp. Let us know if you’re on a passing bus or carpooling and see anything.

8:10 AM: Via scanner, we’re hearing police have confirmed this, and are saying two lanes are blocked.

8:20 AM: Thanks to Ben Blain for e-mailing the photo showing the lane-narrowing (with flares) right before the 99 overpass:

In comments, Lura reports a tow-truck sighting.

8:38 AM: Low bridge not a good alternative at the moment, as it’s closed to vehicles, so marine traffic can go through.

8:45 AM: Via Twitter, Kim says Admiral Way traffic is “backed up past the top of the hill.”

8:50 AM: Also via Twitter, Mike says Delridge Way traffic is backed up to Youngstown. Joe says the bridge crash cleared but police still have a lane blocked off; that’s believed to be for cleanup, as a small spill was reported at the crash scene. Meantime, the low bridge is open again for non-marine traffic.

9 AM: The bridge lanes are reopening – Jessica tweeted that an officer was clearing the flares minutes ago.

9:37 AM: In comments, “Enough” says there’s now an incident blocking the left lane by Nucor. Meantime, photo added above was sent by Ben Maldonado – showing the traffic-times sign a bit earlier on Fauntleroy Way. (added) Another reader sent this helmet-cam video showing how tempers flared on the bridge during the earlier backup:

10:07 AM: For bus riders – interesting Seattle Times story, asking the question about whether RapidRide has worsened local service rather than improving it.

1:48 PM: Small crash on the westbound bridge, off to the right lane, no injuries reported. Thanks to Vanessa, Lura, and Patrick for the tip.

52 Comments

  1. If you like sitting in traffic you won’t be disappointed

    Comment by Jim — 8:04 am January 28, 2014 #

  2. Traffic stopped, but tow truck going past in bus lane is a good sign.

    Comment by Lura — 8:19 am January 28, 2014 #

  3. Thanks. Just got a pic from Ben – showing where the lanes narrow.

    Comment by WSB — 8:20 am January 28, 2014 #

  4. 99 on-ramp was pretty clear. Spent 45 minutes waiting in the left two lanes, there’s no waiting for 99.

    Comment by ws jordan — 8:27 am January 28, 2014 #

  5. Why does it seem like this always happens on Tuesdays?

    Comment by Grace — 8:27 am January 28, 2014 #

  6. Grace, that exact sentiment was just voiced on Twitter.
    .
    https://twitter.com/pleonardo/status/428201750667870209

    Comment by WSB — 8:29 am January 28, 2014 #

  7. And why is the lower bridge always closed when these things happen?

    Comment by SJ2 — 8:36 am January 28, 2014 #

  8. Lower bride is up to let a ship through.

    Comment by Svend — 8:37 am January 28, 2014 #

  9. It’s going to be a long ride to work. On the 55 looking at a sea of tail lights on 35th. Glad I brought a book!

    Comment by fiberwoman — 8:43 am January 28, 2014 #

  10. Will the lower bridge resume once the ship passes?

    Comment by Mercy — 8:45 am January 28, 2014 #

  11. Yup, and as you proceed cautiously around the wreck there is always some knob trying to rush around you and cause another wreck.

    Comment by helridge — 8:49 am January 28, 2014 #

  12. MarineTraffic.com doesn’t show anything else waiting so here’s hoping. SDOT usually tweets the reopenings but I haven’t seen anything yet. http://twitter.com/seattledot

    Comment by WSB — 8:50 am January 28, 2014 #

  13. Correction, I was looking at an outdated window. The low bridge IS open again, per SDOT tweet about eight minutes ago.

    Comment by WSB — 8:55 am January 28, 2014 #

  14. They just opened up all lanes

    Comment by Sean — 8:57 am January 28, 2014 #

  15. Thanks, Sean! That confirms Jessica’s report of police picking up the flares.

    Comment by WSB — 9:00 am January 28, 2014 #

  16. I’m really wishing I had ridden my bike instead of taking the bus. This commute is exactly why I switched. I COULD WALK FASTER THAN THIS!

    Comment by Jason — 9:05 am January 28, 2014 #

  17. The frequency of these accidents and the resulting shutdown and traffic nightmare is becoming completely ridiculous. Every week it’s something new.

    Comment by Unhappy commuter — 9:08 am January 28, 2014 #

  18. Been stick in traffics trying toget out of West Seattke for more than an hour. 35th the bridge wasn’t moving. Diverted to Avalon in attempt to get to low bridge. Waited thru 6 lights and moved only. 40 feet. Switched back to Deleridge got stuck at light trying to turn right back onto 35th had to go to Fauntelory to finally get on the bridge creeping along now. Car blocking part of the right eastbound right lane at top of bridge

    Comment by Barb — 9:10 am January 28, 2014 #

  19. Does it seem like these events are happening with greater frequency in the last several months? Anyone agree or am I just frustrated? If you are really concerned about getting to work on time just how much time should you build in to get over the bridge? I have to believe that there is a relationship between the over building going on in WS with this. With traffic comes accidents. With more traffic comes more accidents. I don’t see it getting better. And please, no ‘take the bus and we’re saved’ arguments. Everyone is not going to take a bus, for whatever reason, pure and simple.

    Comment by KT — 9:16 am January 28, 2014 #

  20. I’m about to head out for my commute, any progress on the bridge? And was everyone ok in the accident?

    Best to all, stay safe out there

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 9:28 am January 28, 2014 #

  21. Now left lane blocjed by nucor.

    Comment by Enough — 9:31 am January 28, 2014 #

  22. When I got there it was just a police car blocking two lanes of traffic. That seems unacceptable to me. Can you find out why? That officer should be reprimanded.

    Comment by wsnorth — 9:42 am January 28, 2014 #

  23. Might have just been an exchange of insurance. Looked to clear quick in my rearview. 2 people were out of their cars. Old lady in a pt cruiser and a man in a white sedan.

    Comment by Enough — 9:44 am January 28, 2014 #

  24. WSNorth, there was a spill. The officer’s job was to keep people from driving on the dangerous spot until SDOT could clear it.

    Comment by WSB — 9:47 am January 28, 2014 #

  25. U r not alone kt.

    Comment by Enough — 9:49 am January 28, 2014 #

  26. When I drove by it looked like a minor fender bender, both drivers were out of their cars writing down insurance info, blocking two lanes. There seemed to be no reason why they couldn’t pull (or be pushed) over out of the way. It’s just unbelievable that one minor problem crushes the commute for so many people. At least while they were just standing there, both drivers should have been apologizing to every other driver as we passed by.

    Comment by D — 9:56 am January 28, 2014 #

  27. I can forgive occasional traffic in and out of Trader Joe’s but this morning’s commute was abysmal. That a singular vehicle accident on the bridge resulted in traffic hemorrhaging for over an hour should be a strong indication that West Seattle needs better infrastructure to support all the new development.

    Comment by Mr Elliott — 10:00 am January 28, 2014 #

  28. And they want to build more condos in WS?????!

    Comment by M — 10:45 am January 28, 2014 #

  29. i will say this until I am blue in the face, USE THE WESTBOUND LANES!

    There has GOT to be a way to make the southern-most westbound lane REVERSIBLE!

    Replace a few barries at 35th/Fauntleroy and some just past the 4th avenue exit with movable stanchions (ala I-90) and USE THAT LANE eastbound in the morning.

    Comment by Smitty — 10:54 am January 28, 2014 #

  30. Way to go. Late to work even with taking the alternate route. Agree with D and Mr. Elliott. Consistent and unpleasant “surprises” on the bridge are not conducive for a promising future for West Seattle.

    Comment by Wb — 11:17 am January 28, 2014 #

  31. One word… Carpool. And yes, some of you do it. But I tally cars when I’m in stop and go traffic and at least 70% of people on the bridge are single occupants. It’s such an easy fix… Maybe some of you can’t for some reason. But imagine if just 25% of the single occupants did. What an impact that would have.

    Comment by beaglenut — 11:17 am January 28, 2014 #

  32. I like this reversible southern-most westbound lane idea. Is SDOT talking about this at all? We’re years if not DECADES away from a rail “solution” – this is a GREAT idea.

    Comment by schwaggy — 11:20 am January 28, 2014 #

  33. Great idea that needs to be implemented, Smitty.

    Comment by G — 12:11 pm January 28, 2014 #

  34. Huh, wow. Rode my bicycle today. Left about 7:50am from West Seattle. Arrived 9am in Bellevue. No problems. Perfect weather. Yeah, Jason – today, definitely worth riding after seeing the traffic backed up Fauntleroy.

    Comment by themightrabbit — 1:29 pm January 28, 2014 #

  35. Normally, I leave for work at 5:30AM to avoid traffic. It is usually 17 minutes from Fauntleroy and California to UW at that time. Today, I couldn’t leave until 7:15AM. Knowing I would face it, I was fine with the traffic. I knew what to expect. I was going with the speed, slowing and stopping as appropriate.

    That wasn’t enough. I was involved in the 7:45AM accident near 1st Ave on the WS bridge.

    I was at a standstill in the left lane waiting to get onto I5, we were past I99 but before 1st Ave. The car that was two behind me was struck by an SUV moving at speed trying to switch lanes. The SUV’s front left crunched into the car’s right rear. This caused the car to crash into the car in front of her, which caused that car to crash into me.

    When I got out and looked at the damage, I could see the SUV was leaking fluid from the engine. I could see the car it struck had the rear quarter panel crunched into the tire. They couldn’t move. The SUV was also stopped partially into the right lane due to the attempted lane change, making it hard for people to pass.

    The people who were trying to pass were understandably getting frustrated, A few were doing crazy things. I thought another accident was going to happen. Accidents suck. But that doesn’t mean you can act like a frustrated jerk and drive recklessly around it. We were all trying to recover and do the right thing to make sure everyone was safe.

    If people just pay attention and drive carefully during heavy traffic, this can all be avoided. Sure WS bridge traffic sucks because of WS’s population and the way the exits are setup. But, just be careful and recognize you are going to be in traffic at certain times. Hurrying to change lanes, tailing people to make them speed up, not putting space between you and the front car because you don’t want people to cut in, these are the things that lead to accidents.

    Venting aside, the first two cars in the crash needed towing, I am not surprised it took awhile. And, they had to clean up the spill. The police did their best for safety. No need to excoriate them. Sorry anyone lost an hour of their life.

    Comment by Rich — 1:30 pm January 28, 2014 #

  36. Now there is a truck-car accident westbound on the Spokane viaduct. Avoid.

    Comment by Lura — 1:35 pm January 28, 2014 #

  37. Anywhere else I’ve lived, there’s a mandatory “unless your car is immobile or you are too injured to do so safely, pull off the road or into the far lane to exchange info” law. Here, I honestly think people don’t move their cars because they know someone is going to get a ticket in an accident (which is the DUMBEST rule ever – give one if necessary, but not as a hard rule) and they don’t want to move the evidence of their side of the story. We need to change some rules in order to help things clear out faster when an accident happens.
    .
    Note that my comment was posted at about the same time as the person above who was actually involved. After reading that, let me just clarify that I’m speaking generally, and it was obviously the “not possible or safe to do so” scenario today.

    Comment by AG — 1:37 pm January 28, 2014 #

  38. Rich – thanks for the update. There is only so much information that can be obtained via scanner/passersby/traffic cameras/etc. …

    Comment by WSB — 1:46 pm January 28, 2014 #

  39. Literally the first instruction in the Collision section in the WA State Drivers Manual – really why don’t people move their vehicles?

    “…the driver must move the vehicle off the road,
    freeway, shoulder or median to an exit ramp shoulder, frontage road, cross street or other suitable location as soon as it is possible to do so.”

    Texting and driving – that’s why there are so many accidents all the time. People literally drive 55MPH across the bridge staring at their phones – it’s insane. I will bet anyone $20 that the accident today was caused by a distracted driver. If you text and drive you are just a horrible person period.

    Comment by zark — 1:47 pm January 28, 2014 #

  40. The next place this may happen is heading eastbound past the steel mill. For whatever reason the right lane (heading east after Fauntleroy/35th) moves faster than the left on a typical day. People have naturally figured this out and stay in the right lane until JUST past the mill when the left lane starts to move faster (because of all the merging cars coming from the right). One of these days, someone is going to make their quick dash to the left lane without checking and boom. I don’t blame people for doing the lane shift – but please be extra careful and give your mirror a double check before changing lanes!

    Comment by Smitty — 2:03 pm January 28, 2014 #

  41. I like what Rich said.
    .
    People drive so crazy, trying to get ahead that I’m surprised there aren’t accidents like this every day.
    .
    I’m thinking of getting a gopro camera and uploading daily close calls/ridiculous examples of driver behavior.

    Comment by enough — 2:09 pm January 28, 2014 #

  42. I’m happy to help clarify what actually happened.

    I know people caught up in the traffic jam this morning were frustrated and angry. I agree that the driver who caused the accident should have been more vigilant and aware.

    But, the rest of us in the accident were caught up in the scene and trying to do the best we could out of our shock. I was concerned about the woman in the car hit hard. She was very dazed. I hope she is alright.

    WS folks, as frustrating as it is, there are people who have no fault for the fact that you were late for an hour or two this morning (or any morning where there is an accident). I didn’t want to be late to work myself.

    Just don’t drive crazy around an accident trying to make up lost time. It could precipitate another accident. And in tight populations, accidents will always happen.

    Comment by Rich — 2:18 pm January 28, 2014 #

  43. AG – it’s the first rule under collisions in the WA Drivers Manual – not sure if it’s law or not, but it most certainly is what the ‘authorities’ want us to do. It’s a weird thing here, people don’t seem to know that they are supposed to move their vehicle.

    Anyone else think the increase in accidents is due to the increase in distracted (texting) drivers?
    I do – I count cars form the bus – on average 1.3 in 10 cars are piloted by someone staring at a screen – it’s terrifying.
    A regular old driver statistically has about a .01% chance of an accident on any given trip (greatly simplified probability). A distracted driver is at .2% chance. Doesn’t sound like a a lot, but statistically it is, again, terrifying. That texting driver, texting on just 1 in 10 trips, will still be involved in over twice as many (9.2 vs 4) accidents as the non-texting driver.

    “Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.”

    Comment by zark — 3:11 pm January 28, 2014 #

  44. I 5 s accident just befor 6th. Right lane blocked.

    Comment by Enough — 5:50 pm January 28, 2014 #

  45. I think we should only allow segways in WS. A bridge full of segways…could be fun.

    Comment by heather — 6:19 pm January 28, 2014 #

  46. Thanks for posting the link on the Rapid Ride article, it reinforces what we have been stating since the changes were implemented.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 7:18 pm January 28, 2014 #

  47. Been doing the morning bridge commute for 10 yrs now. The old saying of “getting over the bridge before 7am” was some of the best advice I got from long time WS folks who do the morning commute.

    Yes there are more cars now so 7am is really 6:30am to “beat it”.

    One thing I’ve noticed regarding driving behavior is folks changing lanes WAY more than I remember. I just stay in the right lane until I exit at the 4th ave exit. I see folks changing lanes 3 times in a half mile stretch cutting folks off (and driving in the bus lane with their left blinker on—pretending they are merging left).

    Lets all be more patient and pick a lane and stick in it (even if one is moving a bit faster for 500 feet). Cheers.

    Comment by supernova72 — 9:18 pm January 28, 2014 #

  48. At the Collision Scene
    • For all collisions that only damage a vehicle or other
    property, the driver must move the vehicle off the road,
    freeway, shoulder or median to an exit ramp shoulder,
    frontage road, cross street or other suitable location as
    soon as it is possible to do so.
    • For all other collisions, stop your vehicle at or near the
    collision site. If you can move your vehicle, get it off the
    road so that it does not block traffic or cause another
    collision.
    • Do not stand or walk in traffic lanes. You could be
    struck by another vehicle.
    • Turn off the ignition of wrecked vehicles. Do not smoke
    around wrecked vehicles. Fuel could have spilled and
    fire is a real danger.
    • If there are power lines down with wires in the road, do
    not go near them.
    • Make sure that other traffic will not be involved in the
    collision. Use flares or other warning devices to alert
    traffic of the collision.
    .

    http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/docs/driverguide-en.pdf

    Comment by Mike — 9:45 pm January 28, 2014 #

  49. smitty: reversible lanes seem like a good idea, but ultimately, all of those extra cars arrive at the same bottlenecks at I-5 and SR-99.
    .
    i.e. you can make the bottle bigger, but if you don’t increase the size of the relief valve, pressure will only increase.

    Comment by redblack — 7:19 am January 29, 2014 #

  50. You are probably right, redblack.

    It just “feels” like between the exit to 99 and the exit to 1st avenue south the 2 lanes really constricts things and that maybe an additional lane at that point would alleviate that choke point.

    Also, not sure how all the traffic coming from down below (primarily trucks) would merge back into the I-5 north que.

    It is just so frustrating sitting there looking at all that open (and paid for) pavement…….

    Time to start leaving earlier, is probably the better answer.

    Comment by Smitty — 8:59 am January 29, 2014 #

  51. zark is not right about this one. “I will bet anyone $20 that the accident today was caused by a distracted driver.” It wasn’t. It was a simple misjudgment about distance. And the person feels horrible.

    Comment by Rich — 10:29 am January 29, 2014 #

  52. smitty: being blue collar has certain weird privileges, you know: the roads are pretty empty at 5 am. the early shift makes the viaduct useable on the way home, too. :)

    Comment by redblack — 1:51 pm January 29, 2014 #

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