4 miles of highway closure, 5+ hours of gridlock: ‘This can’t happen again’

June 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 61 Comments

(What happened on SB 99 after vehicles flooded onto it after it reopened Tuesday night)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When the Seattle Police Department’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is called in to investigate a crash that has killed or critically injured someone, SPD closes the road, often for a block or so in each direction.

But when TCIS investigated the two-car Tuesday afternoon crash at East Marginal/Nevada (map) that left a man with life-threatening injuries, trapped in his car, cut out of it by firefighters, southbound Highway 99 was closed all the way north to the Battery Street Tunnel – four miles away – and it stayed that way until almost 7:30 pm, as chronicled here.

As discussed in the ensuing 115+ WSB comments, among other places, five-plus hours of gridlock followed. One comment we heard in person: “It was like Snowpocalypse without the snow.”

Many have asked: Why couldn’t traffic have been allowed on southbound 99 as far as the West Seattle Bridge/Harbor Island exits, still about half a mile short of the crash scene?

We started seeking the answer first thing this morning. We also talked to one elected official who says that, separate from the crash, the traffic snarl was “preventable.”

First, who made the call for the four-mile closure zone? Not SDOT, whose communications director Rick Sheridan responded:

Questions about the collision investigation and road closure decisions in support of it should be directed to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). SPD responds to all major collisions and manages those incidents.

Given the loss of that major southbound corridor, SDOT’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) provided maximum north/south green times for the signal system on adjacent routes, posted signal board messages alerting drivers to the closure and recommended alternate routes. We additionally used social media to share information with the public. Our TMC stayed open late to monitor the situation, make signal adjustments as needed and provide information.

So we went to SPD – whose spokesperson Officer Drew Fowler explained in a phone conversation, “It was done there because it was the easiest way to quickly shut down traffic on 99 – because there is always a huge time crunch in events like this, getting it shut down as quickly as possible is important to life safety for everybody involved in the collision – it was the quickest way that we could shut down traffic going past the collision at that time.”

As Tuesday afternoon went on, couldn’t there have been a re-evaluation to see if the closure zone could have been shortened, at least allowing people to be routed off 99 at the exit for the high and low West Seattle-bound bridges?

Officer Fowler: “Those are assessments that we could take a look at … if there are lessons to be learned we’ll hear those out, if there’s a better way to go on a scenario. It’s difficult at that moment when you have 10 million variables and limited resources, you just have to make an executive decision.” He said SPD would be “examining” what happened.

Any officer has the authority to close a road, Fowler added, but if it’s “going to be closed for a specific period of time, a lieutenant is notified of the closure.” And that, he said, is the level at which this plan was signed off. “TCI calls are difficult – the detectives are trying to conduct CSI-level invstigation in the middle of a roadway and the difficult thing about that is, once the roadway is open, any evidence that existed is gone.”

He said SPD is “very sorry for the inconvenience,” and also noted that the evening Mariners-Yankees game added to a “confluence of a lot of difficult circumstances that made it a bad traffic day.”

Among the thousands of people caught in the backups: West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who doesn’t think it had to be as bad as it was, and vows to work to make sure there’s a plan for better coordination next time.

For starters, he said, he will ask Mayor Murray to direct his departments to come up with a plan for situations like this. “It doesn’t seem like SDOT, WSDOT, and SPD have plans to investigate incidents without causing gridlock. The city was affected from Queen Anne to Beacon Hill – why they (couldn’t) localize the investigation was really puzzling.”

Saying his trip back to West Seattle, after being at City Hall well past 6 pm, took almost an hour and a half – via Airport Way to Spokane Street – Rasmussen declared, “This can’t happen again.” (We’re expecting a copy of his message to the mayor later, and will add it to the story when we receive it.)

P.S. We don’t know the crash victims’ conditions, but we did get more information about the post-crash “heavy rescue” from SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore:

We received the 911 call at 1:44 p.m. When fire crews arrived at East Marginal Way South and South Nevada Street they had two patients already out of a vehicle and a male driver in his 30’s trapped inside the vehicle. The driver was wearing his seatbelt and the airbags did deploy in the car.

When ourt Technical Rescue Team arrived, they used spreaders to pop open the driver’s side doors. This allowed for better access to the patient. Then firefighters used high powered saws and cutter to cut off the roof and to cut the driver’s seat. This allowed firefighter to lower the patient and place him on a backboard before lifting him out of the car. We were able to extricate the patient at 1:59 p.m. Medics transported the male in his 30’s to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.

The other two patients were males in their 60’s. Medics and Firefighters transported both men to HMC in serious but stable condition. They did not have any visible sign of injuries and were both wearing their seatbelts.

The most recent TCIS-investigated crash in the West Seattle area was the hit-run incident that left a bicyclist badly hurt last month on the east end of the low bridge. It was closed off for 4 1/2 hours following the crash. Traffic effects were far different, of course, because that was late night/early morning.

61 Comments

  1. “It was like Snowpocalypse without the snow.”
    ~
    that was exactly what I said to other riders on the bus; didn’t realize you could hear me

    Comment by Diane — 3:48 pm June 11, 2014 #

  2. There are currently four threads on the front page of Seattle Reddit with a total of 603 comments about Tuesday’s gridlock.
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle/

    —-

    And apparently Dick’s was giving away hamburgers to some of the stranded. Well, that was nice anyway.

    Comment by transplantella — 3:52 pm June 11, 2014 #

  3. wow; so the patient was already transported to Harborview at 2pm, and yet the road was closed for 5 ½ more hours??? and gridlock downtown, buses unable to move people, for 6 – 7 more hours???

    Comment by Diane — 4:00 pm June 11, 2014 #

  4. thank you so much for digging up all this info

    Comment by Diane — 4:01 pm June 11, 2014 #

  5. Xplantella – funny, I haven’t even had time to look at Reddit today, I usually go by at least twice a day to make sure we’re not missing something – that’s one thing that was different about this: Most of the time, when we have big traffic-jam stories, it’s outbound from West Seattle, and everybody affected was coming from here. This time, it was a homeward-bound commute time with a domino effect elsewhere in the city so many other residents were affected.

    Comment by WSB — 4:07 pm June 11, 2014 #

  6. Thanks so much for the follow up story and asking SPD some honest questions. I am not satisfied with the answers given but I appreciate the journalism.

    .

    Any word on what caused the collision?

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 4:34 pm June 11, 2014 #

  7. ….and any word on why there was not a single solitary cop helping to direct traffic or at least stop people from blocking intersections?

    Comment by flimflam — 4:35 pm June 11, 2014 #

  8. WSB, thanks so much for the reporting on this – excellent local sleuthing!

    Comment by K M — 4:37 pm June 11, 2014 #

  9. Thanks for following up on this. I had it easy– I was only stuck for an hour on my way home from Ballard; others I know sat in it for 3+ hours before finally giving up and crawling over to I-5.
    I’m sorry for those injured in the crash, but…all accidents are preventable. What was the cause? Speeding? In attentive driving? Someone was being very selfish, and it caused city wide gridlock. Rasmussen is right– This sort of thing has a disproportionate impact on residents of West Seattle and it must NEVER happen again.

    Comment by blockedpunt — 4:40 pm June 11, 2014 #

  10. Thank you for asking the tough questions.

    Comment by Happy — 4:43 pm June 11, 2014 #

  11. I ask myself that question at almost every accident I see that has traffic control issues – which is most.

    There’s almost always a spare cop car or seven around any incident and yet I rarely see one of them directing traffic. I’ve been tempted to do it myself a number of times, it gets so frustrating.

    What does SPD have to say to those of us who ask exactly what those other cops are doing when they’re at accident scenes? Surely it doesn’t take more than one or two max to take statements and snap a few pics? And even then I’m not sure how many times I’ve actually seen a cop taking pics or obviously doing CSI work.

    Are flimflam and I the only ones who’ve noticed this??

    Comment by wakeflood — 4:48 pm June 11, 2014 #

  12. I don’t understand this sentence:

    But when TCIS investigated the two-car Tuesday afternoon crash at East Marginal/Nevada (map) that left a man with life-threatening injuries, trapped in his car, cut out of it by firefighters, southbound Highway 99 was closed all the way north to the Battery Street Tunnel – four miles away – and it stayed that way until almost 7:30 pm, as chronicled here.

    Comment by M — 4:51 pm June 11, 2014 #

  13. You guys at WSB do such good work it is incredible.

    I can only speak for myself, but this sight (or maybe portions of it?) are worthy of a subscription.

    At the very least you should charge a higher ad fee and throw in some ads into the feed once every story (ala facebook).

    I’m 100% certain that you guys know your business better than I do, but you guys deserve not just kudos, but $$$$$ for your hard work.

    Thanks

    Comment by Smitty — 4:57 pm June 11, 2014 #

  14. West Seattle Hipster: this is what I got from the SPD blotter blog: “A car traveling north on E Marginal Way South crossed the centerline, colliding with a south-bound car.”

    Comment by sam-c — 5:00 pm June 11, 2014 #

  15. At the very least WS buses that enter the Viaduct on Columbia and get off at the bridge exit should have been allowed to proceed.

    Comment by natinstl — 5:02 pm June 11, 2014 #

  16. There is a very real discussion that needs to be had around the road closure and traffic management. Almost lost in that, though, is the fact that in only 15 minutes SFD drove to the crash site, extricated the victim from very tough conditions, and had him ready for transport. In a situation where minutes can save lives, that is very impressive.

    Comment by TW — 5:02 pm June 11, 2014 #

  17. Thanks Sam-C.

    .

    Wonder what caused the car to cross the center line, medical issue?

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 5:07 pm June 11, 2014 #

  18. TW – that’s why I included, at the end, the info I got from Kyle early on – I asked because I was curious if the extrication was a lengthy process that might have factored into the five hours, and even though it wasn’t, I didn’t want to just leave all that on the cutting-room floor.
    .
    Smitty, thanks for the kind words. I could offer a lengthy reply about why we do things the way we do (which will change eventually) but this isn’t really the place. As we say whenever it comes up, if you do business with any of our sponsors, please thank them for advertising here – it not only puts their message in front of 100,000+ area readers but also supports local, community-collaborative news produced by a local, wholly independent business (us) – instead of sending their marketing money out of town to the many national companies that hound small businesses these days.

    Comment by WSB — 5:15 pm June 11, 2014 #

  19. Apparently SPD will “beat the Mexican piss out of you” one way or another!

    Comment by valvashon — 5:18 pm June 11, 2014 #

  20. To follow up on Tracy’s last point, here is a link to the list of WSB sponsors: http://westseattleblog.com/wsb-sponsors/

    Click the link, study it periodically (once a month, perhaps?) and let these businesses know that you saw their listing here and appreciate it.\
    I probably don’t look at the list or mention my appreciation often enough myself, It can be hard for sponsors to know whether their dollars are making a difference. But believe me, they are.

    Comment by onion — 5:24 pm June 11, 2014 #

  21. Well its a good thing the new tunnel will have lots of exits so they won’t have to shut it down from 4 miles away again. Oh, wait….

    Comment by brandon — 5:43 pm June 11, 2014 #

  22. It shouldnt matter..im sure the critically injured person was inconvenienced a lot more and will continue to be.

    Comment by Linda — 5:46 pm June 11, 2014 #

  23. What exactly is SPD protecting against with a 5 hour shutdown of a major highway?

    Litigation?
    Integrity?

    Is there not a way to balance the need for thorough problem solving without impacting the lives of countless thousands that have no relation to the effort underway?

    Is SPD culpable to insurance companies or the victims themselves if they fail to document in excruciating detail every angle over a 5 hour period?

    Could they meet their fiduciary responsibilities by having HD video survey of the area and moving the wreckage out of the way?

    Is the cost of potential liability weighed against the cost of interruption of those thousands of lives/businesses?

    Just thinking out-loud…

    Comment by WS taxpayer — 5:52 pm June 11, 2014 #

  24. I lost all respect for SDOT when they called WS commuters “Scumbags”.

    Comment by Not a scumbag — 5:56 pm June 11, 2014 #

  25. Single occupancy vehicle addiction and refusal to plan or fund a real mass transit system. It’s not a complicated equation. Seattle’s not getting any bigger but the population is just going to keep exploding. Do the math folks. We can’t keep living the 1950s suburban dream much longer.

    Comment by Jane — 5:59 pm June 11, 2014 #

  26. Not sure what magic folks want. This just happens to be a HORRIBLE place to have a wreck. It’s just a logistical choke point. Sucks. There isn’t a real exit on 99 from Battery Street tunnel to south of the West Seattle bridge (one sort of exit down by the stadium). IF you have an accident that closes that road, well, what do you want? A trans-dimensional portal? A normal wreck would be pulled off in 20-30 minutes, but anything that requires a criminal investigation is a pain that requires hours. Anytime there’s a serious accident on I-5 the same thing happens (backups for miles and miles). 99 just has the bonus of being ‘in town’ and the only ways around are the already busy surface streets. The fact that this was one of the biggest backups folks had seen in “ages” means it’s not common, don’t get to worked up. Every year (or two) there’s a snow/ice event. Every other month some horrible wreck. It’s just life. Sucks, but nothing you can do. Except maybe take less cars, if everyone was one buses and trains, would be a lot less stress to the roads.

    Comment by David — 6:02 pm June 11, 2014 #

  27. I gave up and took the train to Beacon Hill, which was great. Too bad we don’t have one of those, huh? Cuz they don’t get stuck in traffic!

    Comment by jw — 6:25 pm June 11, 2014 #

  28. The information about the wreck was widely disseminated before I left work at 4:00. Luckily I work on the south end of East Marginal. However when this stuff happened and I was still commuting north to Northgate, I just found things to do. Go to dinner, happy hour, get groceries, Costco run, walk the mall, go to a park… In fact since my doctors and dentist are still at Northgate I pick late afternoon appointments and go out to dinner afterwards. I don’t understand why people think, nah it’ll be fine lemme just go sit in the miles long traffic jam and bitch about it later when I don’t like the choice I made. There are lovely places to visit in North Seattle, if you commute from up there maybe pick a few as your backup plan for next time. There’s a big fancy new 14-screen cinema at Northgate Transit center with tons of free parking. Get a few discount tickets at Costco and keep them in the glovebox.

    Comment by Trickycoolj — 6:47 pm June 11, 2014 #

  29. Investigating serious accidents isn’t done just for criminal prosecution. The primary purpose, as I understand it, is to identify factors that contributed so that that roads, signage, etc, can be made safer. A head-on collision is nasty. What happened? What contributed to it? Even in cases of high speed, or impaired drivers, etc, investigators look for factors that could be made better. Jersey barriers, dividers, crash barriers, better signage, etc, saves lives.
    .
    I agree that there should be plans in place to route traffic better. But I am glad they do thorough investigations.

    Comment by Community Member — 6:54 pm June 11, 2014 #

  30. Yes lol. Signs that say please use alternate routes do a lot of good when there are about 4 options to get to west seattle. What’s worse is you could still get on 99 at Western Ave because I did. It wasn’t blocked by spd.

    Comment by Joe — 6:58 pm June 11, 2014 #

  31. Why was the Seattle EOC not activated. They need to bring in all emergency partners to work on the problem to get traffic moving.

    Comment by jim lovett — 7:05 pm June 11, 2014 #

  32. I love the commenters who only see life through their own perspective. Just because you happen to have hours to waste going to the movies and out to dinner to avoid traffic doesn’t mean anyone else does. We don’t all live a homogenized life with nothing better to do. How dismissive to blame people for ” their choices” to get stuck in traffic.

    Comment by sophista-tiki — 7:21 pm June 11, 2014 #

  33. “This can’t happen again”? Please, Tom Rasmussen. Trying to play around with scenarios to ameliorate future mega back-ups due to accidents is not where attention should be focused, though, yeah, sure, it would be helpful in the short run. LIGHT RAIL. Expensive? YES, mega expensive! The likely answer, though? YES! Give me a break with these situational band-aids! This transit situation is insane and gets worse every year. Suck it up, people, and pay through the nose. Ultimately, it will add not only to the quality of daily life in this metropolis but hugely benefit the environment. What part of this is so hard to understand?

    Comment by Donna Pierce — 8:41 pm June 11, 2014 #

  34. Additionally,if SFD knew in advance well before rush hour that 99 would not be open,could they have had traffic control at some of the major intersections? It sounds like they knew they would have the road closed for at least two to three hours. I don’t live in WS but in LQA and am a huge fan of this blog. That being said, when 99 is closed down (for any reason) I see the effects first hand being mainly that people use 5th Ave N as the alternative to getting south through the City and therefore not only does E-W Mercer and Denny St get bad but all of N-S 5th Ave N/5th Ave as well. I listened to cars honking at each other till well after 7 pm last night while sitting in my living room. I realize that I live in a livelier neighborhood but last night was certainly a unique experience. And there have been some pretty bad traffic days here with the construction closures of 99/1-5/Mercer Street.

    My question to SFD is this: If you know several hours before that you are going to cause a major traffic snarl, do you not have an emergency plan to call in some off duty staff to direct traffic at some of the worst known intersections? It might’ve saved some grief for rest of us that weren’t even trying to use 99.

    Comment by twinkle toes — 8:42 pm June 11, 2014 #

  35. I wish common sense was used. There are buses that just go to west Seattle that could have been let on the roads. Instead my commute was almost an hour and a half and I was very late to get my son from daycare.

    WSB – can you provide some insight into what procedures the police must do and why that would take over 5 hours?

    Comment by Emmyjane — 8:45 pm June 11, 2014 #

  36. EJ – please see the link I have used in this story and yesterday’s coverage, from the SPD website:
    .
    http://www.seattle.gov/police/traffic/TCIS.htm

    Comment by WSB — 8:58 pm June 11, 2014 #

  37. West seattleites

    Please tweet the mayor, SPD, king 5 – anyone that will listen that yesterday was unacceptable .

    We cannot continue to sit by and watch as our elected officials and civilian officers tells us to suck it up while they may poor decisions.

    Where is the accountability?

    We do not need another committee to study and decide what we all know is our conclusion. Yesterday was a cluster and fire the idiot who made the decision to allow it to go on for 5 hours.

    Stupidity should be punished.
    I’ll say it because others won’t.

    Comment by Ted — 9:19 pm June 11, 2014 #

  38. Couldn’t they have given notice of alternate routes? Like have people already stuck with no exit take West Seattle Bridge and take Delridge Exit and use 16th or Holden to Marginal to get South? Or have people exit for what is it Admiral and turn around under the bridge and use the lower bridge to U-turn and get onto I5 South or 99? Were they running around trying to find a lost body part?

    I’m not originally from here and sorely miss the joys of Houston Freeways (horribly congested) with their oh so convenient exits with u-turn underpasses ever mile or so.

    Comment by NotOnHolden — 9:31 pm June 11, 2014 #

  39. WSB – sorry I missed the link! Thanks for the info.

    Comment by Emmyjane — 9:58 pm June 11, 2014 #

  40. I really some of us were impacted by the road closure, but there was a crime scene investigation and people seriously injured. I would hope the same decision is made is again to investigate a crime and that “perceived inconvenience” doesn’t cloud police or political judgement.
    Let’s let our law enforcement do their job and support them and not pretend to tell them how to do it better.

    Comment by A — 11:05 pm June 11, 2014 #

  41. David, what I would like to see is not magic,
    what I want to see is common sense be used.

    Had the accident happened just before the exists to WS and Harbor Island then I would agree shut down 99 at the stadium exit. The Facts in real time is that there was no none nada reason that 99 had to be shut down completely NONE! Traffic going to West Seattle via the West Seattle Exit would have had no bearing on the accident investigation area.

    I have the utmost respect to our SPD in the fact the rush in when others run out and they put their life on the line everyday… But there were options that were not taken and I hope there is a quick review of the cause and affect this had city wide.

    To use the Mariners game as a added reason for total grid lock is an excuse not a reason for poor judgment.

    Comment by Kc — 11:11 pm June 11, 2014 #

  42. “Traffic going to West Seattle via the West Seattle Exit would have had no bearing on the accident investigation area”
    .
    Ding ding ding! Yup, totally agree. Would traffic have been bad across the bridge, yes. Would traffic miles away up North near the Ballard Bridge been as bad, NOPE! What SPD did was stupid.
    .
    A, it’s not a “perceived inconvenience”, many people who needed to get to hospitals were unable to do so in a timely manner due to incompetence of SPD’s decision makers. I was in the traffic, I saw multiple aid units STUCK in traffic. Multiple cars broke down due to the snarl of traffic that DID NOT need to happen. That’s the key, it DID NOT need to happen.

    Comment by Mike — 6:21 am June 12, 2014 #

  43. I cannot conceive what SPD’s investigation could have possibly revealed that was worth shutting 99 down for 5 hours. The economic impact of this debacle must’ve run in the millions. Rescue the people involved, take some pictures, and clear the damn road!

    Comment by jwright — 6:36 am June 12, 2014 #

  44. I’m just wondering if SPD has built plans for traffic control in some of these “worst case” scenarios? Accidents in bad places, etc.

    Maybe they have but if this is how the “close Hwy 99″ scenario works, they might need to revisit the plan.

    I get that this thought sounds both paranoid and is without actual knowledge of anything but it FEELS like SPD is fine with punishing commuters in these scenarios. Why do we not see lots of officers working traffic control at key spots more often? I’m used to seeing little to no manual traffic control where it would be obviously helpful to keep things moving. Just keeping intersections from being blocked is huge and yet is rare to see.

    Just sayin…

    Comment by wakeflood — 6:38 am June 12, 2014 #

  45. I was notified of the closure by an SPD tweet while I was at work at about 4:00.
    So I immediately turned my computer yo the SDOT traffic map, only to see 99 as green – indicating no traffic problems.
    The only “traffic alert” was about the Mariners game, until I scrolled down the page – the alert about the collision was buried.
    SDOT can’t even make their own traffic map useful.

    Comment by Tony — 7:37 am June 12, 2014 #

  46. At 5:15pm from 1st and Lander over the bridge by bus to WS, there was no delay. No more then usual.

    btw
    “Not a scumbag”
    If one is going to say things like that about the SDOT, provide a link or one just sound like a …trouble maker making up trouble.

    Comment by 15 minutes flat — 7:48 am June 12, 2014 #

  47. The ‘scumbag hat’ comment is in reference to this (not just covered here, but also regionally and nationally) http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/funny-or-not-sdot-tweet-calls-west-seattle-bridge-drivers-scumbags/

    Comment by WSB — 8:04 am June 12, 2014 #

  48. Tony, use Google Maps’s traffic map instead. It’s much more reliable.
    .
    jwright if I’m ever in a serious crash I’m glad you won’t be the one investigating it. Geez.

    Comment by datamuse — 8:11 am June 12, 2014 #

  49. To me the problem isn’t with closing Hwy 99 per se. The problem that needs to be addressed is 1) why does SPD close a major road in a major city at rush hour without any apparent concern about the implications of that act and any actions to mitigate those implications, and 2) is SPD really completing their investigative responsibilities in a timely and efficient manner by deploying adequate resources and acting with an acknowledgement that the managing of traffic is also their responsibility.

    Comment by KT — 9:36 am June 12, 2014 #

  50. According to the PI…Seattle police spokesman Patrick Michaud conceded that the investigation was “on the long side of what an average major collision would be,” timing-wise, but not an extraordinarily long period of time… Seriously?

    According to the Times…At a City Hall news conference, Mayor Ed Murray said traffic investigations and road closures are part of living in any city… Why do I have an image of Greg Nickles standing in the snow giving the city a B grade for their blizzard response?

    Pretty much seems that the official response is suck it up, nothing we can do.

    Comment by KT — 9:49 am June 12, 2014 #

  51. TCIS investigations run several hours. Every time they are dispatched to a crash, we include that warning in our ongoing coverage. The night of the hit-run bike vs. vehicle on the low bridge last month, the scene was closed for 4 1/2 hours. Here’s a crash from our archives in 2009 when the high-level bridge was closed four hours after a one-car flip. If I didn’t have a zillion other things to go write and research, I could probably spend hours pulling up every TCIS investigation we’ve ever covered and give you the durations of closure … will put that on the list.
    .
    By the way, not that you said it was, but in case anybody does a double-take, the “City Hall news conference” was not ABOUT this – somebody asked Murray a question about this yesterday while he was announcing the appointment of the newest deputy mayor. Which reminds me that we haven’t seen CM Rasmussen’s memo to Murray yet.

    Comment by WSB — 10:24 am June 12, 2014 #

  52. ah yes, I remember one early morning TCIS closure on the East bound WSB for a fatal car crash. (they tried to get over to the 99 exit after they already passed it and hit the jersey barriers) maybe 2007, 2008? that was significant closure impacting AM rush hour. a tragedy for the victims and their families.
    I remember it because it was one of the few times I actually left West Seattle in the AM. I was 1.5 hours late to my doctor’s appointment in First Hill and the doc. freaked out when they took my blood pressure. but at least I still had a BP…

    Comment by sam-c — 10:31 am June 12, 2014 #

  53. Maybe this one, 2006 (before we were doing news coverage) – sounds like this might have been a six- or seven-hour (if not longer) investigation, from the description in the story: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2003078447_webbridgefatal22.html

    Comment by WSB — 10:45 am June 12, 2014 #

  54. that is it, you are right, no WSB at the time. I believe the traffic warning I had was from my spouse who took the bus into work early that day.

    Comment by sam-c — 11:14 am June 12, 2014 #

  55. datamuse,

    What’s to investigate? What is the value added of hours 2 through 5 of the investigation? How does whatever that alleged value add is compare to the opportunity cost it inflicts upon the other 100,000 of us that are affected?

    I’m going with Spock on this one…the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    Comment by jwright — 5:46 pm June 12, 2014 #

  56. FYI: Police Traffic Collision Report Instruction Manual – State of Washington

    http://www.wsp.wa.gov/publications/forms/pctrmanl.pdf

    Comment by ltfd — 6:53 pm June 12, 2014 #

  57. Any updates on the individual who had to be removed using cutting tools and a backboard? Hope they’re doing ok at this point.
    .
    It’ll be interesting to find out more about this accident. I’m not particularly interested in how it was caused, but what part of the process needed to take that long to investigate it and why would they continue to close the entire core of downtown HWY 99 during the entire investigation. I could understand initially preventing drivers from accessing the scene, but then re-evaluate the situation and continue flow. Is there a center median that would block at least one north bound lane south of West Seattle bridge from becoming a South bound lane? I imagine they could divert traffic in a far better way than to just say ‘screw it, close up shop and let them deal with it’

    Comment by Mike — 8:42 pm June 12, 2014 #

  58. Yes, I suspect that there was a rich person or an off duty cop involved. I suspect that the 5+ hours to process the accident will be an attempt to overload the legal system with information. I have not heard anyone say “driver x caused the crash and drugs or alcohol were suspected to be (or were not) involved. This is the usual response one would hear in a head on accident. The lack of follow up smells. Save us from the coverup WSB!

    Comment by mpento — 9:24 am June 13, 2014 #

  59. I do not know what exactly goes into a major injury crash investigation–though I see that someone helpfully posted a link to the manual that describes that very thing–but neither does anyone else posting on this thread, as far as I can tell.
    .
    A photograph is by no means the same thing as an investigation of an actual scene. It’d be like relying on a Google Street View to determine whether you ought to buy a house.
    .
    I get that it’s frustrating. I was stuck in the backup on I-5 some years back when a state DOT worker was hit and killed, and it was three hours late for work. But you know what? I was still having a better day than that guy.

    Comment by datamuse — 1:04 pm June 13, 2014 #

  60. datamuse, sorry, there’s no excuse for how this was handled. Blocking off the entire city core of 99 did not help with their investigation at all. Honestly, I’m tired of hearing the responses of at least you didn’t die, at least you didn’t get hurt. The fact is that people die and get hurt every second of every day around the globe. You can’t shut down the entire globe. There needs to be some logic when handling these situations. More than likely, somebody else was hurt badly due to this backup. I did hear of a crash at the close off point at the battery st. tunnel soon after they closed it. Probably caused by closing it and people not knowing how to respond to the diversion.

    Comment by Mike — 8:07 pm June 13, 2014 #

  61. this is what happens when bottom feeding lawyers get involved with police procedures. in the 60′s with boeing traffic at it’s worst , the roads were cleared in fifteen min. max.

    Comment by Robert — 6:16 am June 14, 2014 #

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