Viaduct-less Thursday: Afternoon/evening commute updates


(Top L, north of 1st Av. S. Bridge; top R, 1st @ Holgate; below L, I-5 on south end of downtown; below R, 12th headed for bridge to Beacon Hill, where there’s alternate WS Bridge access)

First update: Traffic is slow EASTBOUND on the high bridge right now. More to come – we’ll be hitting the road in a few minutes to get a firsthand look, and please let us know what you are seeing (if you can send info safely, such as, from a bus!).

4:14 PM UPDATE: Travel times show 4th is in better shape than 1st right now.

4:35 PM UPDATE: On the road now. High bridge looks better, peeking up the onramp from Avalon. Busy stream coming off the low bridge – here comes the 54 and the 55, homeward bound. And another 54.

4:40 PM UPDATE: Problem – stalled truck eastbound on the low bridge.
Lineup building behind it.

High bridge is busy eastbound from 99 forward. Westbound looks OK. We’re on 1st Avenue South now – past the Hanford detour, which we’ll check out in a minute – looks busier toward downtown than heading away. … Scratch that. Avoid 1st South. The backup from the detour is significant. A Bainbridge Island school bus is even stuck in it (checking, we think they’re headed for a match in West Seattle).

4:50 PM UPDATE: The stalled semi is still on the westbound low bridge, according to the scanner. Detour to the 1st Avenue South Bridge if you can. Take 4th or 6th to get to Michigan, which connects eastward.

5 PM UPDATE: We’re on southbound 4th now. Looks good through SODO. We’ll see what happens when we get close to 1st South Bridge turnoff. Text from someone on a bus says police have blocked off scene of stalled semi on low bridge.

5:14 PM UPDATE: WSB commenter Travis says the stalled semi is being towed. However, keep in mind, it takes a while to clear backups, even after the reason for the backup is fixed – so 1st is likely to be bad for a while. We took 4th, which was backed up a few blocks from the turn for the 1st Avenue South Bridge; we detoured to 6th per recent advice from a friend, and are now on Michigan heading for the 1st S. Bridge. Just found this “live” view of the low bridge on a camera that usually points elsewhere:

… Now we’ve crossed the 1st Avenue South Bridge. Looks good heading homeward-bound once you’re on it. Even if you’re in north WS, you can get off and head toward Highland Park Way but stay right to keep on West Marginal, which will take you up to Spokane St. under the bridge and on to Avalon, Admiral, Harbor, etc. … Oh well, now that camera is back to the bridge approach (looking east on Spokane), maybe helpful anyway.

5:35 PM UPDATE: Commenter says the 5:15 pm Water Taxi was full. Another one says tempers are short in the 1st Avenue South backup. Firsthand reports helpful – don’t type while driving, though! – our road crew is back at HQ as we have to cover a 6 pm community meeting (though we will still be tracking traffic, too). We hope the Bainbridge Island girls’ volleyball team made it to Chief Sealth for their 5:30 pm match against Holy Names (winner of that one plays Sealth at 7:30) – we noted a sighting of their bus in the 1st S. backup at 4:40! Appears some commuters have detoured to Water Taxi; commenter says 5:15 pm was full, and Bill in the 5:45 line says it looks like a full house will ensue for that sailing too.

6:08 PM UPDATE: The low bridge opened right after 6, as it has been doing pretty much every day this week. Remember, 3-6 pm was the only time period during which it was promised the bridge would stay closed to marine traffic. The Water Taxi has been sold out for the past two runs; if you travel on the 6:15 pm, let us know if it had to leave folks in line too!

6:35 PM UPDATE: We’re at a meeting in White Center where someone coming from the Eastside was supposed to be here half an hour ago – so that says something about the traffic. No real train trouble at Hanford this afternoon/evening, we’re told – unlike what we documented yesterday. (A TV crew was there to do a story, we’re told, so just figures it didn’t replicate.) … Wait, now an update from Michele (at 6:45), “stopped by a train on the second set of tracks.”

6:49 PM UPDATE: From Krista via Facebook: “Our 54 local bus driver is rocking it. Just did a 180 degree turn in an articulated bus to find us a better reroute that isn’t blocked by a train. There were at least 10 buses behind us stuck in the traffic on E Marginal Way. Still a loooong commute home tonight.”

7:24 PM UPDATE: Via Twitter, Gwen says some people are getting out and walking. (A few minutes later, we checked back with her, and she said that after half an hour on 1st S., her bus had finally moved, and was over the low bridge, “everything clear now.”)

25 Replies to "Viaduct-less Thursday: Afternoon/evening commute updates"

  • Todd October 27, 2011 (4:17 pm)


  • Bill at Duwamish Head October 27, 2011 (4:36 pm)

    I drive that mile every day also, and in fairness, some of the last minute mergers are drivers coming off the I5 mainline, and they have to merge over a couple of lanes. I just know it will happen, and leave a couple of car length openings and don’t let it bother me anymore. Life is too short.

  • Lara October 27, 2011 (4:44 pm)

    Large truck is stalled, stuck on underbridge just at duwamish crossing.

    • WSB October 27, 2011 (4:56 pm)

      Yup, we passed just as it happened. Thanks. AVOID LOW BRIDGE TFN westbound!

  • Robert October 27, 2011 (4:57 pm)

    I never anticipated EASTBOUND Spokane viaduct backing up starting around 3 PM each day during #VIADOOM. Weird.

  • ad October 27, 2011 (4:57 pm)

    Bill @ Duwamish, I do the same thing. I also believe the signage also creates last minute mergers.

    Thanks everyone for doing your part to make ViaDoom not so horrid. :)

  • Travis October 27, 2011 (5:09 pm)

    Lower bridge stall has just been towed out.

    • WSB October 27, 2011 (5:11 pm)

      Thank you, Travis! I don’t have a visual on that right now and we lost scanner audio too so I was hopeful someone would update – TR

  • Hoyne October 27, 2011 (5:28 pm)

    The 5:15 water taxi from downtown was full. :( Waiting for the 5:45 now … Heads up, the line is already pretty long.

  • anonymous October 27, 2011 (5:31 pm)

    Traffic on 1st is horrible right now. Everyone is honking and yelling at each other.. It’s going to be a long bus ride. The train honking is just the icing on the cake.. viadoom..

  • jno October 27, 2011 (5:36 pm)

    5:30, Hanford St. KOMO news crew prepping for (or just finishing) a live shot. No train building in sight. What a coinkydink!

  • Chad Maglaque, Alki October 27, 2011 (5:47 pm)

    I’m stunned that no one in SODO has clued into taking Holgate EAST over the I-5 up to Beacon Hill, cutting south along 15th and then down Columbia onto the Spokane Viaduct.

    Have been taking it all week. 5 mins, tops.

    Guess it’s just easier to complain about being stuck in traffic.

  • Valerie October 27, 2011 (6:12 pm)

    I came back from the Convention Center via SB I-5 around 4:30 and though the traffic was pretty slow on the downtown streets, and stop and go on the freeway, there were no real incidents and no really long jams. I was home by 5:30. It seemed heavier than a “normal” day for sure, but no worse than I expected.

  • KeithN October 27, 2011 (6:12 pm)

    Just rode my mtn bike from Bellevue, smooth ride, nice riders on the trail. On E Marginal, police keeping it safe at Hanford St. E.Marginal with minimal traffic. Smart drivers are taking that. Backup for cars over lower spokane st. bridge no worse than any other evening this week. Just checked the cameras and it’s a train blocking hanford st. combined with the low bridge opened up for a boat. Guess as always it’s about timing and avoiding the group psychology.

    Safe travels.

  • Admiral Janeway October 27, 2011 (6:22 pm)

    5:45 water taxi was at capacity and left people at the dock.

  • CJS October 27, 2011 (6:26 pm)

    I took the 6:15am and 4:45pm Water Taxi runs today. The morning run was only half capacity, if that… and no TV cameras at the dock. The afternoon run was almost a sellout; I think I heard them say 142 were onboard. It will be interesting to see the numbers for tomorrow.

    • WSB October 27, 2011 (6:57 pm)

      CJS – while the Water Taxi wasn’t at capacity at any time this morning, we did note earlier that the total ridership was a few more than yesterday, for the entire morning commute. And obviously some folks who take the bus home shifted to the WT today.

  • Seolaloop October 27, 2011 (6:50 pm)

    Any updates on the lower bridge? Been sitting on a 21X waiting to get to the bridge for about 30 mins with no movement at all.

  • Heath October 27, 2011 (6:54 pm)

    Im on the 21x and our bus among others are stuck in traffic that isn’t moving at all. Don’t know what’s going on but we’re not even close to getting into ws. I see other cars turning around and going back the way we came but so far our driver is determined to stay on this route. Please heelp us figure out what’s going on! Thank you wsb.

  • LAP October 27, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    I have been leaving work an hour early each day (permission granted by boss in Sacramento area who understands icky traffic) and have been taking the special 3:15 pm Water Taxi. Never more than 30 people on it. Today was delayed by a meeting and caught the 3:45 pm sailing…again, no more than 30 riders. If people could duck out early tomorrow and catch the earlier boats they would be assured of a seat. It was my plan all along to ride bus in at 6 am and Water Taxi home. Plan is working out great!

  • Chad Maglaque, Alki October 27, 2011 (8:37 pm)

    Great job Valerie, KeithN and LAP. Great to see people with a plan instead of running around like their hair is on fire.

    For the most part Carmageddon/Viadoom has been a bust.

    If anyone has some explaining to do it’s SDOT for not getting the 1st Ave ramp up in time and making it a priority. Meanwhile there’s 2 lanes of freshly constructed pavement almost a half-mile long to the north serving absolutely no purpose….

  • johnnyblegs October 27, 2011 (8:39 pm)

    Heath…I was also in that long line of buses. Multiple buses did u turns on marginal to avoid that insane back up. I was on the 57 and got frustrated after sitting for 45 minutes so I got off and decided to walk home; and I wasn’t the only one. Reminded me of the snowmaggedon a few years ago. Got up to the front of the line and it was all for a TRAIN!!? And of course it cleared right when I got to the front of the line. Luckily your 21X let me on. Just glad to be home.

  • Heath October 27, 2011 (9:06 pm)

    Johnny I was having flashbacks to snowmaggedon and considered walking as well! Fortunately my commute tonight was only 2.5 compared to the 7 hours on the snow day from hell.

  • jedifarfy October 27, 2011 (9:24 pm)

    If anyone’s trying to get to White Center or anywhere East of 16th, try the 23 that runs from 3rd and Pine/Union. Yesterday was tough but today was much better. It runs up 4th and hasn’t really hit any major snags yet!

  • work downtown October 27, 2011 (9:32 pm)

    I am totally confused about the bus schedule. I was told or informed that the 56 and 57 stopped at 3rd & Columbia – so I have caught it there the last 2 nights. The 57 is scheduled to be there about 4:50 – got to the stop tonite before that. A 55 stops – it is not on the readerboard and from what I understand should be on 2nd Ave. I could catch it but decide to wait as I live north of Admiral. Another 15 minutes (well past the scheduled time,) the 57 comes. I get on, we crawl down 4th to Lander, then right on Lander and left on 1st. We are now behind the 56. Where is that routing now? Obviously not on 3rd. Then we head south on 1st. The last 2 nights we head south past Spokane street and make a right then another right on W Marginal Way, but tonite we go take a right to the waterfront, then left. I am so confused. I do wish the 55, 56 and 57 would all stop at the same stops downtown so I would have more frequent choices of buses. The 54 goes by every 5 minutes I swear.

Sorry, comment time is over.