Followup: Why the “Viaduct Closed” lights weren’t on Saturday

If you didn’t see it Saturday — either via WSB or via being stuck in it in person — Creighton sent that photo of the eastbound bridge backup during the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s shutdown for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon (compounded by other road changes/closures). SDOT did send out lots of advance warning, as noted here and elsewhere, but on Saturday, numerous WSBers reported that the “Viaduct Closed” warning lights in West Seattle and on The Bridge weren’t on. Marybeth Turner from SDOT acknowledges it was human error, not a mechanical problem:

SDOT’s procedure for using the warning lights that alert motorists that the Viaduct is closed is clear: in coordination with the Seattle Police Department, if the Viaduct is closed, the lights should be on. This weekend, the policy was not followed. We have re-acquainted and re-focused key staff on our procedure.

Something similar happened last October. The lights were installed in late 2007. ADDED 12:51 PM: So if it DOES happen again, whether a human or mechanical failure, is there a hotline to call? we asked. Turner’s reply:

People may call (206) 386-1218 and report the lights are not functioning. There is someone on hand to answer this phone 24-hours a day.

That’s the same number you’d call about emergency road problems “after hours.”

15 Replies to "Followup: Why the "Viaduct Closed" lights weren't on Saturday"

  • 56bricks June 30, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    Literally asleep at the switch?

  • Sue June 30, 2009 (12:38 pm)

    So much for the “procedure” they claimed was in place so that it wouldn’t happen again (see Oct. link).

  • Robert June 30, 2009 (12:45 pm)

    I agree this is a screw-up, but wouldn’t there STILL have been huge back ups on east bound West Seattle Bridge? (Meaning do people really change their travel plans to leave West Seattle when they see those blinking lights?)

  • WSB June 30, 2009 (12:48 pm)

    One side effect of “no lights” — What I heard a lot of in e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc., besides comments here, was that some folks who apparently had STILL not heard, didn’t notice the shutdown till they got close enough to see the cones etc. blocking the offramp, and then caused trouble trying to merge back into traffic … TR

  • Mr. JT June 30, 2009 (1:07 pm)

    Another fine showing by Grace and her Clown Posse..

  • rockyraccoon June 30, 2009 (1:23 pm)

    Of course, no matter how many times the responsible parties screw up, they will keep their well-paying jobs and their cushy benefit packages.

    Has anyone with any City department ever been fired for simple negligence? Or just for being too “simple”?

    I’m so mean!

  • brandon June 30, 2009 (1:37 pm)

    Yes, some people go down Highland hill to W. Marginal. Yep, another winning show by Grace (must GO!) and her minnions.

  • mike green June 30, 2009 (2:14 pm)

    the city was on automatic pilot—kind of like when we had the big power outage a couple decembers ago—–no communication or anything !!


  • kittylove June 30, 2009 (3:02 pm)

    yes…i had forgotten about the closure. i was heading to renton. if the lights on admiral had been on, i would have gone UNDER the bridge and made my way to 599 instead of OVER the bridge trying to get to I-5.

  • WSratsinacage June 30, 2009 (3:22 pm)

    CF anyway you look at it for commuting in any direction between Northgate and Soutcenter .. The city made money and people had fun I assume but this crippled the city for a day. We already have enough major road closures “around here” each year. Don’t need any more IMO.

  • Steph June 30, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    The viaduct is closed more often for ‘repairs’ than for race or walks so stop whinning people and pay attention to the news. BTW, I had fun doing the half marathon and glad we now will have one in nicer weather! Yay!

  • Save Our Streets Seattle June 30, 2009 (4:14 pm)

    It is SO embarrassing! SDOT is a dog chasing its tail! FIRE CRUNICAN for the love of all gods! Get someone – ANYONE – in that department who knows what she is doing and how to manage! Those big yellow signs are the boy who cried wolf! I **NEVER** trust them. They’re a GREAT idea turned into a HUGE waste of time, money, and energy by… you guessed it, Grace Crunican. Pathetic. Just SAD. They really should be taken down. They’re just a distraction now.

  • KateMcA June 30, 2009 (10:37 pm)

    Same here Steph- I had a blast with the half and congrats on finishing! I really didn’t see a lot of publicity about the marathon before it happened though, so i’m sure it caught a LOT of people off-guard. I-5 looked like it was also a mess when we were coming over I-90 to Qwest, so I’m sure it sucked to be in that traffic. Sorry guys! I hate it that SDOT didn’t make it easier– we probably were able to get through the city faster on foot than people could driving…

  • carraig na splinkeen July 1, 2009 (7:25 am)

    re-acquainted and re-focused? ugh, the only word missing now is “re-visited.”

  • D July 1, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    @WSB – I don’t know that having the lights on would have helped with traffic and merging. There were signs visible well before the cones and the SPD car at the offramp to the viaduct but plenty of people stayed in the far right lane and the bus only lane as long as they could before merging over. Either these people are horrible at paying attention and would have missed the blinking lights anyways or they’re more important than the people waiting and traffic and prior knowledge wouldn’t have made a difference to them.

Sorry, comment time is over.