West Seattle traffic-alert update: What’s being done to prevent 3rd day of port-truck backups on Friday

(SCROLL DOWN for updates – as of our firsthand check at 4:20 pm, the backup’s cleared; 4:50 pm, added list of city/port traffic-reduction measures; 10:19 pm, adding new SDOT news release with yet more details)

(Thursday morning photo by Don Brubeck)
For a second day, a major backup of port-bound semi-trucks is backing up the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct to I-5, as well as surface streets – photos like these continue to come in:

This of course isn’t the first time a queue of port-bound trucks has affected traffic. But it’s the first time in a long time that we’ve heard of this magnitude of backup, persisting on into the day. So we contacted the Port of Seattle and SDOT to ask about the cause and what if any management steps have been taken. Port spokesperson Peter McGraw’s response:

The terminal operator is working very hard to get cargo moving on and off their docks while handling three large vessels. What we’ve been seeing here the past couple days is a surge of export commodities– goods from eastern Washington. So between the extra loads and the ongoing work disruption, we’re seeing an unusually high amount of back-ups. We’ll be keeping a close eye on things today, working with our transportation partners and the terminal operator to move cargo as quickly and safely as possible.

DOT’s Marybeth Turner says the city is concerned:

SDOT has expressed its concerns to the Port of Seattle about the truck queuing occurring on city roadways. We will meet with both the port and the terminal operator today about these impacts and potential solutions those parties can employ.

McGraw’s mention of “ongoing work disruption” refers to the situation we first mentioned two months ago – West Coast terminal operators and longshore workers are in mediated contract talks, eight months after their contract expired. An ILWU news release circulated earlier this week says the terminal operators’ organization reports they’re running out of room for containers on the West Coast docks; that organization, the Pacific Maritime Association, continues to accuse the union of slowdowns. Since last November, large ships at anchor, waiting to get into either Seattle or Tacoma, have been visible from West Seattle; right now MarineTraffic.com shows eight in all – three in Elliott Bay, and five outside Manchester (some shown in this photograph from early today):

(Photo by James Bratsanos)

ADDED 1:21 PM: Yet another vantage point of the truck backup:

3:39 PM UPDATE: Commenters (and people we’re hearing from on Twitter, too) say it hasn’t gotten any better. We’re going out for a firsthand look. Check the comments for some travel advice. SDOT advises avoiding the westbound Spokane St. Viaduct.

4:13 PM: We’ve just traveled the eastbound bridge – no more truck backup visible on Spokane St. Viaduct. Got off at 1st and noted that a motorcycle officer appeared to have lower Spokane blocked, westbound, just west of 1st. We’re circling back around to check.

4:20 PM: The officer is out of the road, in the median, and westbound Spokane is open again, no backup or slowdown. We have also crossed the low bridge and it’s open and clear.

4:50 PM: From Anthony Auriemma in Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office, an update on what’s being strategized:

SPD will have an officer working traffic from 7 am-3 pm during the slowdowns. Their primary job will be to assist with cross traffic and assist with preventing the intersections from getting blocked.

· SDOT is working on updated signage and traffic alerts. You may have noticed that SDOT this afternoon began advising drivers to avoid the Spokane Street Viaduct and to use alternate routes such as 1st Avenue South.

· SPD is joining SDOT at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) to help with traffic conditions. As you may recall from the Transportation Committee briefing, this is part of the improved incident management protocols that SPD and SDOT agreed to after the June 99 meltdown. Councilmember Rasmussen visited the TMC this afternoon to check out conditions and make sure SDOT was working to find solutions.

· SDOT is attempting to secure Terminal 5 for remote parking as an interim solution.

· Other engineering and enforcement solutions are still being worked out between SDOT, SPD, and the Port.

And just after we published this, Auriemma e-mailed again to say that T-5 has been secured for parking starting tomorrow.

8:01 PM NOTE: Joe Szilagyi of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition points out that the mayor tweeted about this earlier this evening too.

ADDED 10:19 PM: Rare late-night news release, just in from SDOT, with a few more specifics of what’s happening:

To ensure that traffic flows safely and efficiently near Port of Seattle facilities, the City of Seattle will take measures Friday to address trucks backing up onto city and state roadways due to Terminal 18 delays.

Based on discussions with the port, starting Friday morning trucks will be detoured off city streets into a holding area at nearby Terminal 5, where they will stage for entry into Terminal 18. Truck drivers will be directed to this holding area using fixed and variable messages signs.

Also on Friday SDOT will install “No Stopping, Standing or Parking from 3:00 AM to 6:45 AM” signs on Harbor Island to ensure vehicles stage at Terminal 5 prior to the opening of Terminal 18’s gates. The Seattle Police Department is providing officers to support traffic flow and prevent the West Seattle Bridge, Spokane Street Viaduct and intersections near Harbor Island from being blocked by commercial vehicles.

“The City of Seattle and the Port of Seattle are working jointly to address traffic issues created by delays at Terminal 18,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “These measures will allow the port to process its trucks without creating congestion for drivers and transit riders.”

“I have been working with SDOT, SPD and the Port of Seattle to address the congestion created by port facilities, and will continue to work on this problem as long as the delays continue,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “I appreciate these quick measures being taken by the Port and the City, which will ensure drivers and transit riders can make their trips without unnecessary delay.”

106 Replies to "West Seattle traffic-alert update: What's being done to prevent 3rd day of port-truck backups on Friday"

  • Huindekmi January 15, 2015 (12:30 pm)

    The backup at 5:30 this morning was almost the entire length of the Spokane Street viaduct.

  • K'lo January 15, 2015 (12:31 pm)

    what a cluster truck!

  • j January 15, 2015 (12:47 pm)

    (foreign)Shipping companies ended all night shifts to affect the pocket book of the workers. I wonder why there’s a back up?

  • T. January 15, 2015 (12:49 pm)

    The line of trucks blocks the view of oncoming traffic for drivers tying to merge onto the WS Freeway from 1st Ave. I fear it will take an accident for SDOT do do something about this.

  • David January 15, 2015 (1:07 pm)

    Been sitting on the bridge now for at least 25 minutes…..thanks to whoever is causing the work slowdown for disrupting the day for all of us.

  • Husky January 15, 2015 (1:13 pm)

    I got caught in this mess today. Almost an everyday thing now. UGH

  • sw January 15, 2015 (1:25 pm)

    Why not use the vacant Terminal 5 property as a staging area for the port trucks? Lots of space there. Seems that could be enacted very quickly, even as a temporary solution.

  • coffee January 15, 2015 (1:25 pm)

    Its not just on the bridge, but 1 Ave S, and 99 by the federal building in the Sodo/Georgetown area is also a mess. Heard from one of my Vendors that they are now going to direct their freight to other ports because they are having so many problems. It is a huge mess.

  • timeslid January 15, 2015 (1:28 pm)

    At 1:15 p.m. the backup was all the way on I-5 in both directions and 1st ave is also backed up for a couple of blocks getting on the viaduct.

    I feel for the people who will be coming home at 5. I wonder how this situation would play out if we didn’t have the 99 viaduct to offer a way out of downtown to West Seattle?

  • Cecelia January 15, 2015 (1:34 pm)

    As a temporary fix maybe they could use terminal 5 as a holding lot.

  • Alkiwoody January 15, 2015 (1:34 pm)

    If any other business tied up the streets and freeways like this they would be fines and/or shut down!

    Hey- let’s park all those trucks at T5…

  • Lou January 15, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    I sat in it for approx 30 to go from I5 south to spokane street viaduct at 11:15am this morning. What a mess

  • G January 15, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    This is ridiculous. I have been trapped under the bridge for over an hour now.

  • Rudy January 15, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    I just came home from Costco – even the back way home is tough. Getting onto the 1st Ave bridge from 4th takes LOTS of patience.

  • George T January 15, 2015 (1:36 pm)

    Regardless of the alleged union slowdown, it speaks to the infrastructure problem our political “leaders” fail to address year after year locally and at the state level.

  • Michelle January 15, 2015 (1:37 pm)

    35 min bw I-5 exit and 1st st exit at1330. All trucks. No through cars. This is not ok. Correction. Sorry. Now 45 min.

  • Alan January 15, 2015 (1:38 pm)

    I don’t know why they couldn’t stage them in empty Terminal 5. Yes, they would have to cross the bridge, but that would be better than the current mess. Set up a line there and coordinate the release of trucks with someone at the receiving terminal. *drops mic*

  • CR January 15, 2015 (1:38 pm)

    Yesterday it was backed up past the brewery on South I5 , many almost rear ends becuase people dont expect it.
    Today when i went into city at 10:45 am the right lane of S I-5 backed up much further. I went down Columbia to get back to WS…
    This is awful, we in WS get the brunt of it all , viaduct repair, bus lanes, trucks… and then the rude people that think its ok to follow other lane and cut in… arrgghh cranky with all this traffic

  • KT January 15, 2015 (1:46 pm)

    Call me grumpy but why is everyone “watching” and “meeting” about this and NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING RIGHT NOW to allow traffic on the streets? Be a very good problem for someone wanting to be elected to the City Council to get very vocal about and involved in immediately. How about all those SPD traffic units, that usually treat the Spokane St Viaduct like some kind of Georgia speed trap, start ticketing every truck parked on the road. You cannot say it is a basic traffic jam when you read the Port spokesman’s words. They are using and blocking city street to hold their waiting trucks.

  • Bill January 15, 2015 (1:49 pm)

    Thanks for all the input, folks. I guess I’ll get back to West Seattle from Mercer Island via I-405, then weasel my back home through South Park, then up Highland Drive.

  • Sarge January 15, 2015 (1:59 pm)

    I got stuck in this mess today.

    The worst part of it was watching the truck drivers one after another, after another pull forward to block the ramp from 1st Ave South onto the West Seattle Bridge. Then just sit there.

    Any one of them could have easily waited and let cars merge onto the bridge instead of blocking the top of the ramp just to sit.

    These can haulers are inconsiderate a-holes. I see them merge right into cars on harbor island every day just expecting everyone to get out of their way.

  • Gatewood Guy January 15, 2015 (2:02 pm)

    35 minutes from I5 to the bridge merge. Unbelievable.

  • haltan January 15, 2015 (2:06 pm)

    For those trying to get to the south end of West Seattle I just came down I5, took the Michigan Ave exit, went past Michigan and Boeing Field to the South Park Bridge. Not much traffic that way.

  • Andrew H January 15, 2015 (2:07 pm)

    The Port or the Operator should pay for traffic control (SPD) at about 10 key intersections. Truck traffic sitting on the road is generally no problem, it’s the cars that need to get through or get by that need a helping hand. We need manned intersections to restore order and calm the nerves of automobile drivers.

  • lala2mom January 15, 2015 (2:14 pm)

    Why can’t the trucks leave gaps between them so that vehicles going over the bridge can use the left lane? When I headed east at 1:30, the line of trucks backed up onto I5, and no one was able to get into the left lane and go straight through.

    (Hopefully trucks would not use the lane to move forward and then stop everyone when they want to cut into the line to the port!)

  • f January 15, 2015 (2:17 pm)

    Saw this earlier today and was aghast at the traffic. It’s completely outrageous that port traffic can be allowed to disrupt the roads like this. Man up, WSDOT. I propose escalating fines to the port for every 10 minutes that its trucks idle on the Spokane St. Viaduct.

  • M January 15, 2015 (2:22 pm)

    It’s 2:30 pm Been stuck under the bridge from 1st ave headed west for over an hour. Only half way to west seattle. Jeez. What a mess.

  • Lisa January 15, 2015 (2:25 pm)

    Thank you WSB for always keeping the community updated!

  • Peter January 15, 2015 (2:30 pm)

    This is crazy. Traveling out of West Seattle at 12:30, traffic was wide open in the other lanes, coming into the city until the Harbor Island exit. From there, traffic in that lane was bumper to bumper, all the way down 1st Ave S. until Safeco.

  • Curt burnett January 15, 2015 (2:31 pm)

    Now the Michigan Street off ramp is backed up also. I had to go down to South Park and work my way back home in West Seattle. The Port is basically bringing Seattle to its knees this afternoon. Let’s give the Port traffic to Tacoma!

  • Me January 15, 2015 (2:32 pm)

    Dang!….the one day in about 6 months that I had to drive my car to work and leave my trusted bike at home. Wouldn’t you know it. I’ll head down to Michigan Street exit when I leave work tonight.
    I love my bike!

  • IR8trucker January 15, 2015 (2:37 pm)

    I feel for everyone stuck in this mess. Nobody should have to tolerate it. The sad truth is, this has been happening for a while now and it has happened to this extreme before. Somehow those in charge keep passing the buck. The city of Seattle city council and the Seattle Port Authority both have the ability and the responsibility to do something about this recurring nightmare. Saying they’ll look into it the last couple of times this has been a problem might have been believable. But after so many years to still be wanting to look into it with no solutions even proposed is unbelievable, and unacceptable. If it was any business, or individual causing such a disruption they would be in jail by now and facing huge fines. What is PMA facing? Yet another meeting? This problem is happening all up and down the West coast. There is no excuse for allowing a labor slowdown to punish so many innocent bystanders. The people and business’s affected that are not ILWU or PMA.

    As for the people unhappy about sitting for 20, or 30 minutes to get through. I feel bad for you. I sympathize with you. I really do. But have any of you given the slightest consideration to those truckers spending all day in that mess without pay because they are paid by the mile or by the load? How about the drivers that wait all day only to have the gates closed on them and told to try again tomorrow? How about the drivers that have to spend the night (Without pay and away from their families) in that line just to make it in that gate by the end second day. The terminal operators just keep charging late fees for all those containers they refuse to allow into the port. How is that fair?
    Call your elected leaders and demand action!

    • WSB January 15, 2015 (2:41 pm)

      IR8, at least one reader HAS contacted an elected leader to demand action – and cc’d us on it. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen says he’s upset and has been working on this all day. I am hopeful that we will hear back from him and/or SDOT regarding what was resolved about how to remedy this before a third day … at least in terms of on-the-ground traffic control, with the big picture still looming.

  • abovealki January 15, 2015 (2:42 pm)

    All these comments so far blaming the port. Maybe you should be paying more attention to the role of the longshoremen’s union and their tactics in all of this. Just saying.

  • Wendy Kay January 15, 2015 (2:46 pm)

    I and ten others missed our exercise class today from 12:00 to 1:00pm because our poor instructor couldn’t get over the West Seattle Bridge due to blocking by the trucks! It cost her lots to miss the class and those of us waiting and signed in had to go home. She should have a claim against the Port for unreasonable and purposeful blockage of a main road. The trucks could at least leave room for merging cars to get through!!! Very disturbing behavior.

  • Neighbor January 15, 2015 (2:46 pm)

    Does anyone know if there is daily data on container moves per crane hour for Seattle? Absent transparency, I can’t help but believe that this is a deliberate slowdown orchestrated by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. If they’re not moving their usual 35 containers per hour then this is a deliberate, and shameless, effort to snarl traffic as part of their negotiating tactic.

    I hear automated systems can average at least 30 container moves per crane hour, so anything below that and I’m suddenly in favor of an automated port if these are the tactics of the Longshore Warehouse Union.

  • No January 15, 2015 (2:49 pm)

    Ohhhhh, Tom Rasmussen is upset? Meaningless. Pointless. Whatever.

  • RaeRae January 15, 2015 (2:51 pm)

    I have been under the bridge for an hour and 15 minutes. I am disabled, in horrible pain, and have to pee super bad. Rawr.

  • Evelyn January 15, 2015 (2:52 pm)

    I left eastbound across the bridge 30 minutes ago and it appears to be insanely backed-up some distance both directions from I-5 toward the WS bridge. Has anyone called Murray’s or Constantine’s offices and strongly suggested they get some traffic cops down there RIGHT NOW and help out somehow?! Involving King Co Exec as Metro buses are terribly affected, too. Still a couple of hours out until rush hour, there must be something officials can do to at least help alleviate things. At least look like they’re making an effort!

  • Hbondu January 15, 2015 (2:54 pm)

    Over an hour to get home from fed center south and when I finally was able to squeeze through 2 trucks who were not allowing traffic from 1st onto bridge I had wide open space! I was so excited and really wanted to speed home except for the motorcycle cop at the top of admiral. WOW! I think he could be better served somewhere else this afternoon!

  • ILW-FU January 15, 2015 (3:00 pm)

    Insane traffic and waste – brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Union. Thanks guys. Appreciate your antagonistic tactics. Way to watch out fortune working man.

  • Kellym January 15, 2015 (3:01 pm)

    Any updates on the backup at 3PM? Just about to head home from east side and mulling my options.

  • Wsrez January 15, 2015 (3:05 pm)

    Left Costco, attempted to access weat seattle bridge ramp at 1:30PM. Backed up past starbucks. Turned around attempted lower bridge it’s just 3:03 and just now crossing the train tracks toward lower bridge.

  • zephyr January 15, 2015 (3:10 pm)

    Does anyone know if the south bound Alaska viaduct is still a good alternative? Leaving the city soon. Thanks. ~z

  • spokane street parking lot January 15, 2015 (3:14 pm)

    IR8trucker- Thanks for the input; I was looking at the line of trucks and wondered about the impact. Like- “do they get paid to sit in the traffic?”
    That really sucks that you don’t and have to wait around in place in order to get through.
    got stuck in the mess coming back from 1 meeting this morning. managed to avoid it coming back from a 2nd meeting meeting by taking 99.

    e.ta.: z- yes, the 99/ viaduct allows you to miss the mess

    • WSB January 15, 2015 (3:19 pm)

      For the surface, it still looks like a line of trucks headed eastbound on the left side of this “live” SDOT image (which is a staple in our daily traffic watch):
      .
      http://www.seattle.gov/trafficcams/images/11_Spokane.jpg
      .
      We’re going to go out in a bit and see what we can see, trying not, however, to make it worse on the flip-flop …

  • AG January 15, 2015 (3:20 pm)

    Is this still backed way up? Gotta pick up the spouse in the CD and then home to WS around 5. Are we just screwed?

  • zephyr January 15, 2015 (3:23 pm)

    Thanks, Spokane Street P…
    Getting ready to make the plunge. ~z

  • KT January 15, 2015 (3:27 pm)

    Mayor’s Office told my wife there is probably nothing that they can do as the trucks are not “parked”! Really? Wow. But thankfully one of the posters has said a motorcycle cop is on the Admiral Hill to make sure that speed trap continues to churn out the $$$.

  • astrogirl30 January 15, 2015 (3:31 pm)

    I advise anyone leaving from downtown or around downtown towards W. Seattle to take the entrance to 99 from Columbia street. The exit for W. Seattle bridge is beyond the truck blockage. You may get stuck for a short time underneath the viaduct (smile).

    I made it home in less time than yesterday.

  • sw January 15, 2015 (3:34 pm)

    As of 3:25pm, it’s still a mess.

  • flimflam January 15, 2015 (3:40 pm)

    good lord what a mess. of course there is really no excuse for this – especially if its from a union slowdown. that is NOT how you negotiate.

    .
    also, I can only assume that these trucks have been blocking intersections at some point – what are the cops doing besides set up speed traps? traffic control? ticket truck drivers? obviously not. wow.

  • sophista-tiki January 15, 2015 (3:47 pm)

    An hour late for work this morning, took me 3 hours to get back from QA. Needless to say pissed off.
    A truck back up I can see BUT they had every cross street intersection blocked with trucks who couldn’t be bothered to follow traffic laws by NOT BLOCKING THE INTERSECTIONS. I couldn’t make a left turn anywhere without getting stuck right back in the mess. Then lets add to the problem by running 10 mile long trains through rush hour traffic at 2 miles an hour. Trapped at every turn. what a joke. The harder they pretend to work at fixing this mess the worse they make it. Just fn stop wasting money already .

  • Ta Granados January 15, 2015 (3:50 pm)

    This situation would be better if there weren’t so many cars on the road in the first place! Duh. Waiting in this traffic isn’t life threatening. All the inconsiderate people who speed on this viaduct at 45, 50 miles per hour are far more dangerous and inconsiderate. I’m glad you reckless people have to slow down for once. Oh! Since there was traffic I hopped off the bus and am enjoying the view from the market while eating an amazing salad!

  • Christy January 15, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    Terrible terrible time with traffic this afternoon trying to get home, trucks, back ups and then don’t forget to throw in a few trains. Now in line for a ferry. Glad to not be living in Seattle anymore which is sad for me.

  • sophista-tiki January 15, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    Its only a matter of time before someone gets mad enough to cause an accident. I had a double trailer tanker truck speed past me on 1st ave. cut in front of me and slam on the brakes.

  • sophista-tiki January 15, 2015 (3:58 pm)

    to completely avoid the whole thing take the South Park Bridge to Airport way.

  • pattc January 15, 2015 (4:01 pm)

    Last I checked there had been a reduction by some shipping company’s of their night delivery.
    and
    a reduction in parking at the terminal.
    and
    rig back end rental that was stationed at or around the terminal.

    Anyone else heard this? Or have info on it?

    Because it would really suck to have all this going on while a contract dispute was going on.

    http://www.portseattle.org/Cargo/SeaCargo/Facilities/Container-Terminals/Pages/Terminal-46.aspx
    http://www.ttisea.com/main/index.do

    • WSB January 15, 2015 (4:12 pm)

      We have just taken the eastbound bridge to 1st. No backup on Spokane St. Viaduct westbound any longer. On the surface, a motorcycle officer is blocking westbound lower Spokane at 1st.

      • WSB January 15, 2015 (4:20 pm)

        Update: By the time we went up to 4th and circled around, the officer was in the Spokane median at 1st and westbound Spokane was open again. Low bridge is fine too. So in short, this has all magically cleared for the commute.

  • maxine January 15, 2015 (4:04 pm)

    Well, aren’t you the smart one, Ta Granados. It must be wonderful to be so very wise and have all the answers!

  • Kayo January 15, 2015 (4:06 pm)

    What a nightmare! I am so glad I skipped that trip to Costco today. Someone needs to fix this mess stat. Unacceptable and frankly dangerous.

  • Mike January 15, 2015 (4:20 pm)

    There are billions of dollars being lost due to a select group holding our economy hostage. How many of those truckers are losing wages while they wait for the unions to get a payout? How many farmers are losing crops due to this? How many retail businesses are losing millions due to this? GREED!

  • pattc January 15, 2015 (4:22 pm)

    So maybe the shippers need to fix it.

    Shippers admit congestion not workers’ fault

    http://www.thestand.org/2015/01/shippers-admit-congestion-not-workers-fault/

  • emmapeel January 15, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    Thank you, WSB! I have been anxious about getting home from SoDo!

  • Ivan January 15, 2015 (4:26 pm)

    For all you smart people who want to blame it on the ILWU, think again. It wasn’t the union that unilaterally ended the graveyard shifts, strictly as a punitive measure. That is the cause of this gridlock. All that loading and unloading could be happening in the wee wee hours of the morning, while most of us are asleep, as usually is the case. The slowdown is caused by the employers. Please direct your anger at them.

  • JanS January 15, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    to those complaining about the “speed trap” on Admiral Hill…solution: slow down and don’t speed. It’s so terribly simple. And it’s raining and extra slick out there…no sympathy…

    • WSB January 15, 2015 (4:49 pm)

      And now … more official information on what’s being done. Adding to the story. And to those who suggested Terminal 5 – ding-ding-ding, that’s on the list of possibilities. – TR

  • timeslid January 15, 2015 (5:01 pm)

    Thank you WSB! As always you were on the story and followed through with lightning speed. We are very fortunate to have you as our go to resource!

    • WSB January 15, 2015 (5:05 pm)

      Haven’t published as many stories today as a result but this was kind of a day-long event. Just added update on T-5, that *is* in the mix as of tomorrow morning.

  • Don Brubeck January 15, 2015 (5:21 pm)

    I know it won’t work for probably a majority of people commuting, but here is a suggestion for a good number who could do it: try a commute by bike from WS to downtown or SODO.

    The separate bike lanes and trails go beside the trucks instead of in front and behind them. It takes 30 to 40 minutes, reliably, to get downtown by bike from most places in West Seattle. If just 10 percent of us use a bike instead of a car, it would make it easier for those who must go by car, bus or truck.

  • Tom Rasmussen January 15, 2015 (5:48 pm)

    The West Seattle Blog has done a great job of keeping people up to date. Here is a summary of what has been happening and the plans developed this afternoon. I sent this information to a West Seattle resident who wrote me:

    When I came in to the office early today around 6:00 AM I saw the congestion. In my years living in West Seattle I have never seen anything like this.

    I checked back this afternoon and went to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Traffic Management Center to view the situation on the monitors. I have spoken with the Mayor and the SDOT Director Scott Kubly on the urgent need to find solutions to the traffic backups that are occurring. I have spoken to a Port of Seattle Official too to learn more about how we can prevent this from happening.

    I am pleased to inform you that late today the Mayor’s Office and SDOT have informed me that they and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) are working with the Port to address the issue. Here are some immediate steps being taken:

    • SPD will now have an officer working traffic from 7am-3pm during the times when the truck traffic is the heaviest. Their primary job will be to assist with cross traffic and assist with preventing the intersections from getting blocked.
    • SDOT is working on updated signage and traffic alerts to drivers. SDOT this afternoon began advising drivers to avoid the Spokane Street Viaduct and to use alternate routes such as 1st Avenue South.
    • SPD is joining SDOT at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) to help assist with traffic conditions. This is part of the improved incident management protocols that SPD and SDOT agreed to after the June 99 meltdown that you referenced
    • The Port has just agreed to allow Terminal 5 to be used for remote parking for the trucks as an interim solution.
    • Other engineering and enforcement solutions are still being worked out between SDOT, SPD, and the Port.

    It is the City’s intent that these measure will help significantly. I will continue to work on this problem as long as these delays continue. I have assurances that the proper City departments and the Port will be doing the same.

  • wetone January 15, 2015 (6:19 pm)

    Very unfair of the government to allow groups as this to impact every ones daily lives by their childish actions like todays BS. Where else on this earth could something like this go on with out some heads rolling ? Total blunder from both sides and is hurting everyone with their games. Don’t ask for anymore Port support/money from me for anything I will be voting no. Cut their subsidies now and move them out of here as far as I’m concerned.

  • David Gould January 15, 2015 (6:37 pm)

    Over an hour to drive from Pioneer Square to WS. Time to move elsewhere as traffic problems are only going to get worse.

  • AceMotel January 15, 2015 (6:48 pm)

    good job, Tom Rasmussen. Thanks very much. What Ivan said, too. Also, ships normally going to Tacoma coming to Seattle.

  • Chris W January 15, 2015 (7:12 pm)

    Thank you, Mr. Rasmussen!

  • spokane street parking lot January 15, 2015 (7:41 pm)

    Thank you for looking into these issues. Some of those measure sound like they will help. However,

    SDOT is working on updated signage and traffic alerts to drivers. SDOT this afternoon began advising drivers to avoid the Spokane Street Viaduct and to use alternate routes such as 1st Avenue South.

    does not seem like a good alternate route. From my vantage point, 1st Ave looked like a route that was impacted pretty badly today.

    It might also help if there were some way to keep the trucks getting on the west seattle bridge from I-5 north would not just sit there and block cars getting on WSB from I-5 south. IDK. they made it impossible for people to transition to the left lane, thus affecting all the I-5 South traffic.

  • J242 January 15, 2015 (7:51 pm)

    I fully support unions in general but I can’t help but wonder about the details of this issue. Why is the union pulling this stunt? I would love to know the details but right now, they are coming across as the bad guys and I never want to view a union as being the bad guy but that’s how it feels right now. Even as a software developer at a multi-billion dollar company I have never in my life had a $35K a year health insurance plan like they do so that can’t be it I would hope. I’m assuming it’s based on pay? Maybe overtime or safety issues? There has to be SOMETHING to justify them inflicting millions of dollars in lost time, gas, additional pollution, delayed shipments and more across multiple cities so if anyone here has any info on the reason for this “strike” as it were, could you please update the thread with the info?

    I really don’t want this gut feeling to be correct and am hoping someone can provide some pepto-info to clear up my moral indigestion. Thanks!

  • archie January 15, 2015 (8:41 pm)

    In other news, my bike commute was awesome as usual this morning.

  • pattc January 15, 2015 (8:54 pm)

    J242 Here is the link WSB had in the body of the story.
    (there are other links with this one up there)

    “PMA officials: Port congestion rooted in managerial mistakes”
    http://www.longshoreshippingnews.com/2015/01/pma-officials-port-congestion-rooted-in-managerial-mistakes/

    (one I found awhile ago)
    “Shippers admit congestion not workers’ fault”
    http://www.thestand.org/2015/01/shippers-admit-congestion-not-workers-fault/

    Need to subscribe for this one, or at least leave an email address. But it sounded good
    http://www.joc.com/port-news/longshoreman-labor/international-longshore-and-warehouse-union/ilwu-pma-trade-painful-blows-talks-reach-eight-month-mark_20150113.html

  • IR8trucker January 15, 2015 (9:13 pm)

    J242, don’t worry. It’s not entirely the unions fault this time. In addition to the normal negotiating issues there is safety, equipment, cargo and working conditions at issue
    Here is a paragraph from one of the linked articles that gives a clue.

    “After explaining how the lack of dock space for containers and shortages of chassis were crippling the ports, the PMA announced an illogical plan to eliminate night-shifts at many ports. In addition to cutting shifts at major container ports, the PMA cutbacks would also apply to bulk and break-bulk operations.”

    And a thank you to Mr. Rasmussen for taking action.

  • IR8trucker January 15, 2015 (9:17 pm)

    I have another comment on this port issue. The port of Seattle, and most other West coast ports have instituted some pretty strict idling and emission standards for port related trucks. How is having all these trucks idling in traffic for hours on end affecting air quality, and doesn’t it negate all the efforts taken to reduce pollution from the port trucks?

  • KM January 15, 2015 (9:40 pm)

    Ta Granados – enjoy the salad! Many of the materials used to create your dining experience were delivered by freight via trucks and ports.

  • RayK January 15, 2015 (10:15 pm)

    This week’s freight congestion is likely a preview of road conditions when the Port of Seattle attracts the next generation of super container ships to Terminal 5. WSDOT should be talking with the Port about relieving the congestion on I-5 by paying for dedicated truck lanes on the West Seattle Bridge while they are dredging the docks.

    • WSB January 15, 2015 (10:25 pm)

      For anyone still up and monitoring this – just got an unusual late-night news release, with specifics about how they’ll use T-5, and signage that will be placed elsewhere. Thanks again to everyone participating in this coverage today – with ideas, alternative routes, photos, e-mailing/texting us updates – this is community coverage that has evolved over 10 hours now! We’ll be checking early on how this works in the morning, as part of our regular morning traffic coverage – TR

  • Karen January 15, 2015 (10:31 pm)

    Thanks for giving us your perspective, IR8trucker. I hope the T5 staging area gives you guys some relief too!

  • sophista-tiki January 15, 2015 (10:49 pm)

    opik g seriously?!! why dont th

  • IR8trucker January 16, 2015 (12:17 am)

    You’re welcome Karen. Unfortunately the PMA ILWU contract mess is a recurring nightmare for the truckers and the community. Nobody seems to be able to break the stupidity cycle. If they want to act like kindergartners with their contract negotiations then that’s their problem. They shouldn’t be able to hurt so many innocent bystanders in the process.
    The T5 plan will get truckers out of the road, and that is a very good thing. But won’t get them through the port any faster. I know drivers that after sitting in that traffic all afternoon actually made it in the gate before they closed it, got their container off and are now stuck inside the port until tomorrow when at some point they will hopefully get their outbound container an be able to leave.

    Goodnight everybody. Hope tomorrow is much better for everyone.

  • Kate January 16, 2015 (1:08 am)

    I was stuck on Spokane Street for over an hour en route to West Seattle between 11:00 and noon. Didn’t realize the union connection, but when I went to take a photo of yet another semi blocking me from merging into the single lane, he noticed my camera and let me in. Hmmm.

  • rg January 16, 2015 (2:26 am)

    The idea of ports in south Wa and Canada look more attractive now. Thankfully for all those trucking, gas prices are low.

  • Alphonse January 16, 2015 (2:57 am)

    To the self-righteous bike/bus people having a go at those of us in cars, you may want to think about the fact that some of us would love not to be in those cars if we weren’t transporting an elderly or handicapped person who doesn’t have other options about their method of transport to one of their medical appointments outside of West Seattle. I’d certainly be open to any suggestions for handlebar devices to strap down my Alzheimer’s and arthritis addled elderly parents, just as I’d be happy to use the tiny garbage can if someone can direct me toward an adult diaper service.

  • Don Brubeck January 16, 2015 (7:35 am)

    Alphonse, I don’t see any bus/bike comments that say anything like what you are talking about. Are you perhaps just expecting some? my comment suggesting that SOME of us try a bike says that if just 10% of us ride a bike it would help reduce congestion for those who, like you, need to drive. Offered as one part of a solution, available right now for those who are able to make use of it.

  • KM January 16, 2015 (8:02 am)

    Alphonse-

    Plenty of people need to drive based on various situations, or care for family members, etc. Some do not need to use cars (or disposable diapers). Everyone has a different situation, and I see the point being made is to consider small changes when possible to improve our community, local or global. I’m not convinced that’s a self-righteous view.

  • 22blades January 16, 2015 (8:12 am)

    Once again, the Port of Seattle has demonstrated that that do as they please with reckless disregard for the community they operate in and public safety. They were in breach of an agreement with the city regarding building infrastructure improvements to mitigate their “growth” until it went to court. They recklessly disregarded public safety concerns with the manner in which they coordinate their traffic, particularly in an unusual event as we are seeing today leaving the Seattle Police Department to clean up the mess as an after thought.

    The (dockside) operations manager may not be an elected position but those charged with his or her conduct are. They are;
    Tom Albro, Stephanie Bowman, Bill Bryant, John Creighton, Courtney Gregoire, along with the CEO Tay Yoshitani.

    Unsatisfactory planning and performance.

  • 22blades January 16, 2015 (8:29 am)

    @IR8Trucker: Before you characterize workers as “If they want to act like kindergartners”, I suggest you look back at your own plight a year ago and your plea for help in your own situation in regards to the Port & truckers. If the Union is on strike, just how are these three boats getting loaded? Pure magic or Scabs? The port calls the shots as to when they work, I believe. Figure it out. I think the WSP needs to crack down on your unsafe trailers.

  • matthew skelly January 16, 2015 (10:38 am)

    Yesterday, I had to warn my tutor about the traffic. When I saw the back up, I was on the bus (route 21). She usually comes off I-5 to get to the west Seattle bridge. I hope it’s not the same today.

    • WSB January 16, 2015 (10:52 am)

      Matthew – so far, it’s OK. We are tracking today’s situation in our daily traffic watch (see the first link under BIG STORIES on the right sidebar) but will start a different story IF it becomes a problem – TR

  • IR8trucker January 16, 2015 (10:43 am)

    22Blades, I don’t know who you think I am, but I made no plea last year, here or anywhere else.

    I also make it a point to not use unsafe trailers, or any kind of unsafe equipment. With one exception my inspections have always passed with flying colors. That one exception? I did not fail, the inspection was incomplete because I was transporting a time sensitive federally quarantined load from Antarctica. No officers willing to get close, no completed inspection. As far as the occasional port chassis? In my case any defects are repaired, or the chassis is replaced with a safe on before leaving the ports.
    As for the fools that choose not to inspect their equipment before leaving? I can’t, and won’t, speak for them.

    As for my kindergarten comment, it was directed at BOTH sides. I’ve seen the nonsense pulled by BOTH sides at the Washington ports over the last 16+ years and if you think that both sides have always behaved in a rational manner that is considerate of the effects of their actions on those around them, well you apparently are partaking a bit excessively of our newly legal substances. How many times over the last 16 years have contract negotiations been handled like adults, without at least some of the drama and negative economic impacts to others that we are seeing now? How many contract negotiations have been settled by the negotiators without outside intervention and before the contract is expired?

    If you want to talk about strikes and scabs and port work assignments, that is an entirely different subject. With certain exceptions, trikes and other labor actions in the business world tend to primarily impact the business, and the workers. Business costs go up, worker income goes down. At least during the labor dispute. IN the case of PMA and port workers? It has a serious economic impact on many, many more people, and business’s than just those directly involved. The big problem? Neither side cares who else get’s hurt. Just like kindergartners!

  • Lonnie January 16, 2015 (11:08 am)

    It’s ironic that city & port officials blame these backups on the current Longshoreman’s slowdown however West Seattle commuters have been dealing with these backups for years.

  • WSince86 January 16, 2015 (12:49 pm)

    IR8trucker- I, for one, appreciate your well thought out and intelligently expressed comments.

  • IR8trucker January 16, 2015 (6:36 pm)

    WSince86, you’re entirely welcome. Personally I wish there wasn’t a need.

  • worker January 17, 2015 (12:46 am)

    PMA OFFICIALS ADMIT TODAY THAT WEST COAST CONGESTION CRISIS HAS BEEN CAUSED BY MANAGERIAL MISTAKES AND NOT PRIMARILY DUE TO DOCKWORKERS

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 12, 2015)– In contract negotiations Monday afternoon, officials from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) told a federal mediator and longshore negotiators that West Coast ports have reached a point where there is little space available for additional import containers arriving on the docks – and no space for export and empty containers returning to the docks.

    The PMA made it clear in the negotiating session that they were not blaming union workers for the primary causes of the congestion crisis, explaining that the lack of space for returning empty and export containers was exacerbating the existing chassis shortage – because the export-bound containers are a key source of desperately needed chassis that have become the #1 choke-point, ever since shipping lines recently stopped providing a chassis for each container arriving to West Coast ports.

    After explaining how the lack of dock space for containers and shortages of chassis were crippling the ports, the PMA announced an illogical plan to eliminate night-shifts at many ports. In addition to cutting shifts at major container ports, the PMA cutbacks would also apply to bulk and break-bulk operations – for no apparent reason other than as a cynical tactic to generate anxiety among workers.

    The union has noted that cancelling night shifts and reducing bulk operations will do nothing to ease the congestion crisis. The PMA appears to be abusing public ports and putting the economy at risk in a self-serving attempt to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table, and create the appearance of a crisis in order to score points with politicians in Washington.

    “Longshore workers are ready, willing and able to clear the backlog created by the industry’s poor decisions,” said ILWU President Bob McEllrath. “The employer is making nonsensical moves like cutting back on shifts at a critical time, creating gridlock in a cynical attempt to turn public opinion against workers. This creates an incendiary atmosphere during negotiations and does nothing to get us closer to an agreement.”

    – ILWU Coast Longshore Division News Release

    • WSB January 17, 2015 (1:35 am)

      That’s been linked in our story since Thursday morning, but thank you. Between the third and fourth photos, “An ILWU news release …”

  • livlarge January 18, 2015 (2:08 pm)

    The union is not producing the back up it is the port of seattle and the shipping companies. The Port of Seattle and the shippers order x amount of jobs day and night to the union and the workforce fills the required amount of jobs. When the Port and the shipper decide to not hire work on the night side -6pm-3am it is easy for the truckers to become conjested on the bridge. The truck work 24/7. In addition the health benefits a union member receives is misleading propaganda. A family of 6 through Regence can get a 100% coverage plan for 1,300 a month 15,000 hello.

Sorry, comment time is over.

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann