Viaduct-less Tuesday: 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)

We’re kicking off the afternoon/evening commute coverage. “Expect heavy congestion” is the warning again today, but at this point, there’s no reason for it to be worse than yesterday. Updates to come!

3:40 PM UPDATE: Reminder for Metro riders – the reroute used today may not be the same one as yesterday; they are trying to be flexible. Meantime, we’re not sure why, but beware, if you’re heading OUT of West Seattle shortly – the eastbound “high bridge” is moving slowly right now, as shown on the live-video feed linked from the lower-right section of the city map.

4 PM UPDATE: Via Twitter, Sarah says the low bridge westbound (and feeder street) is backed up all the way to Alaskan Way, and adds, “Metro supervisor at First/Hanford directing buses to Marginal reroute due to congestion along Hanford & Alaskan.” As for the eastbound “high bridge” backup, KING 5 traffic ace Tracy Taylor blames it on a NB I-5 wreck at the WS Bridge exit point, but says it’s clearing.

4:39 PM UPDATE: We’re heading out to look at the commute (traveling against the flow so we’re not contributing!), starting with the low bridge. Expecting to see some bicyclists; note that Cascade plans a commute station by the “low bridge” again tomorrow morning, followed by a “bike train” ride.

(Photo taken 4:40 pm)
Meantime, we’ve just arrived by the low bridge; traffic flow’s good till you get to its east end, and now there’s a bit of a backup. From the right side of eastbound lower Spokane off the low bridge, you can divert onto the brand-spanking-new East Marginal Way Grade Separation flyover … we unintentionally did just that. It takes you over the tracks and southbound onto East Marginal.

5:04 PM UPDATE: The 1st Avenue South Bridge also looked pretty good when we traveled over it a few minutes ago. Now we’re checking out 4th Avenue South – right now, heading TOWARD downtown looks worse than heading away!

5:19 PM UPDATE: Overall, still no problems. We are now downtown checking on the Pier 50 water-taxi line. Will have a report on that from the co-publisher in a couple minutes. Assessing comments, FB, Twitter, etc., bus drivers are diverting when they can, to avoid trains; sun glare is perhaps the most frequently mentioned problem, since it’s even brighter than it was yesterday. We were asked on FB to mention again that the northbound Viaduct over downtown is open by design – all along they have said it would be open from the stadiums north, 5 am-7 pm during the weekdays this closure week. If you have to head north past downtown, you can get to the onramp at Royal Brougham Way, but it’ll close again at 7 pm.

5:34 PM UPDATE: Water Taxi lineup a few minutes ago was all the way to the gate.

Now we’re back on the road, homeward bound (sorry to compound the congestion). Just passed 1st Ave. S. in Pioneer Square, all brake lights heading south. We’re trying 4th in hopes of getting to the 1st Avenue South Bridge. 4th looks OK southbound past the train station and “the Clink”…

5:56 PM UPDATE: Made it across the 1st bridge. Only real hangup was a few blocks of stop/start just before making the right turn toward the bridge onramp. On Highland Park Way now, getting dark already on the east slopes (nice sunset off to the west). Still no major problems to report. (The 5:45 pm Water Taxi left more than 20 people behind at Pier 50, though, Bill Schrier reports via Twitter, with this photo.)

6:53 PM UPDATE: Concluding the commute, sounds like those who traveled in the more traditional time frame after 5:30 hit some snags, so if you can leave earlier tomorrow, you might get a better shake. If you’re tracking Water Taxi ridership, this morning’s totals are now posted on the county website. More commute-tracking in the morning, and of course, we’re watching traffic the rest of the time too, because without the Viaduct, any major problem can have worse ripple effects than usual.

39 Replies to "Viaduct-less Tuesday: Afternoon/evening commute updates"

  • coffee October 25, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    East Bound Bridge is really bad! Been on it for 20 minutes and not even close to I5….ugh.

  • A October 25, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    sitting in my office, looking out at the bridge. Eastbound is nearly stopped , and is backed up past the crest (beyond which I can’t see.) It’s 3:56pm, and I wonder what’s going on that everyone is leaving WS.

  • Liza October 25, 2011 (4:03 pm)

    Is this why the helicopters are so busy flying over?

  • Susan October 25, 2011 (4:08 pm)

    I appreciate the great coverage by WSB! Wondering what’s the purpose of the helicopter coverage, over the WS Bridge during rush hour? Yes, I am affected, as I live on Pigeon Point and they are hovering over my backyard!!

  • deb October 25, 2011 (4:10 pm)

    this is exactly why I stayed home this week and remote in…I felt bad at first seeing the morning commute and it was not that bad but when EVERYONE has to come back to WS the same way, except going over to I5, I knew it was going to be a disaster…good thoughts to all of those who could not change the way that they work…

  • Oneanne October 25, 2011 (4:12 pm)

    Much faster trip on the first 21x -left 3rd and. Pike at 3:36 and are on Avalon at 4:10. This time we could see the train blocking Landon and the driver kept heading to the southern route without even a second thought

  • nizzle October 25, 2011 (4:20 pm)

    how is the water taxi at pier 50?

  • Soosan October 25, 2011 (4:43 pm)

    56x is running 25 minutes late (though virtually empty). Slow going on Lander. What patience the Metro
    drivers have!

  • West seattler October 25, 2011 (4:47 pm)

    Lower bridge and 1st ave very congested. Also, if you have the option of taking water taxi or bus from downtown to west Seattle, go for the water taxi. I have done both now this week and while they both have pros/cons water taxi is better overall (I think). I also really appreciate all the transit workers who seem to be alittle extra nice to all us clueless newbies. Thank you so much!

  • Jon October 25, 2011 (4:56 pm)


  • WTF October 25, 2011 (4:57 pm)

    Don’t forget (as we stressed in another log) do NOT use the Bus ONLY lane. The ticket is aprx. $123 and they ARE stopping people right and left.

  • Jon October 25, 2011 (4:59 pm)

    Okay, yes, there is traffic. No need to hover that stupid chopper over it to make it miserable AND noisy. ffs….

  • tanya October 25, 2011 (5:04 pm)

    Left capitol hill at 4:20 on route 125. Just going over lower bridge now. Was rerouted. Quiet bus riders.

  • Lolly October 25, 2011 (5:15 pm)

    5:14 pm, on S I-5 just passing under Yestler Way traffic very slow/stop and go. By observation N I-5 is about the same.

  • Hilarie October 25, 2011 (5:34 pm)

    Anyone know what the water taxi line looks like?


    • WSB October 25, 2011 (5:36 pm)

      Hilarie – we were just there (I just added an update to the story). Long. No specific numbers, getting that info isn’t as easy in the pm as it is in the am. But it was stretched to the gate.

  • AKJ October 25, 2011 (5:36 pm)

    Cycled as usual, no cycling backups noticeable. Saw lots of traffic already starting at about Western/Pike. Lots more drivers using Andover/Yancy to get to Avalon. Drivers note: this is a major bicycle route. You will see cyclists on Andover. Please do not pass us with oncoming traffic and pass with care (most cyclists heading west are doing about 18 mph already…do you really need to pass? really?) or anywhere near the gym entrance/exit on Andover and ESPECIALLY do not pass near the BLIND 90-degree turn at the west end of Andover. There’s no reason you can’t wait a few seconds to safely pass so another human being isn’t killed.

  • jno October 25, 2011 (5:37 pm)

    Whomever at the county/city/state thought it would be a good idea to route buses across the BNSF tracks without agreement from BNSF ought to have their head examined before losing their job. We sat on the 21X for 17 minutes, watching the train go back and forth, and back and forth. I can’t believe the city let this happen without reopening the 1st Ave S on-ramp. I am usually quick to defend the local governments but they really screwed the pooch.

  • dq October 25, 2011 (5:42 pm)

    It took me less minutes to get home on the water taxi than the number of minutes the #37 is delayed.

  • Sue October 25, 2011 (5:43 pm)

    The 54 at 4:30 from downtown took 45 min to the Junction -5 min better than last night. Took the rerouted reroute

  • mookie October 25, 2011 (5:49 pm)

    At 5:49 pm, hearing medic units over the scanner reporting “be advised, heavy traffic between Harborview Medical Center and West Seattle…”

  • SJ2 October 25, 2011 (5:57 pm)

    I don’t think anyone even knew about the onramp at Royal Brougham Way. I have been using it since Monday, and have only seen a couple other cars using it. It is fabulous. I actually get to work earlier than when the viaduct was open. I wish there was a better option for coming home tonight.

  • Jamie October 25, 2011 (5:57 pm)

    breeziest commute home ever! left cap hill at 330, to west seattle via beacon hill, home by 350! i have flexed out my work hours for this VIADOOM week and it is saving my sanity, but i’ll be back to 8-430 next week with the masses and hating every gridlocked moment of it :(

  • westseattletouwandbackeveryday October 25, 2011 (6:03 pm)

    Morning commute from home in west seattle to water taxi then bus downtown to UW = 1.5 hrs

    Evening commute from UW, bus downtown, water taxi to home = 1.5 hrs


  • Mike October 25, 2011 (6:04 pm)

    Cut 30 minutes off yesterday’s commute time home by biking today. Beautiful day to be out riding.

  • Admiral Janeway October 25, 2011 (6:07 pm)

    My commute home was a pleasant surprise. Caught the express bus on 3rd Avenue and made it home just over 30 minutes. Faster than last night’s commute!

  • EmmaPeel October 25, 2011 (6:08 pm)

    I find it interesting that the news was reporting the West Seattle Bridge traffic as being very heavy at 7:30 this morning, when it was WAY lighter than normal at that hour!

  • MaryT October 25, 2011 (6:11 pm)

    EmmaPeel, I noticed that yesterday too: the reporter on AM 1090 was saying “The West Seattle Bridge is all jammed up” at 8:20 and I was ON the bridge and it was empty! Do they pre-record traffic? Or maybe they just assumed it would be jammed up and didn’t bother to check again.

    I used to work for a cut-rate airborne traffic company back in the day, and I know well that we could fudge traffic reports even if we weren’t airborne that day. (I hated that job.)

  • petert October 25, 2011 (6:16 pm)

    The BNSF crossing backup caused our driver on the #37 to detour all the way down to the 1st Avenue Bridge, and then backtrack up West Marginal Way. No traffic on West Marginal, and I think the bus was up to about 50mph at one point.

    I did not know a Metro bus was capable of such…speed !

    It was still a one-hour commute using this route at around 4:55pm.

    Kudos to the Metro drivers who are figuring their way around some of the backups. Come to think of it, kudos to the Metro drivers, anyway.

  • helridge October 25, 2011 (6:20 pm)

    I find it interesting that it takes longer to get to the west side than it takes to get out. Still fuming that my son has to leave two hours early to get to neighborhood school. I first blamed the trains but learned it was the truckers lane hogging and holding up the buses. Bummer bummer bummer :(

  • Ross October 25, 2011 (6:30 pm)

    That photo of the water tax line “all the way back to the gate” is pretty standard through the entire summer.

  • coffee October 25, 2011 (6:58 pm)

    Perhaps some employers should realize flexing hours and work at home options make for a happier employee.

  • Amalia October 25, 2011 (7:05 pm)

    So cool that there were so many cyclists again – I guess the first time was good enough that people were willing to keep doing it. What great news – I bet there are some new permanent recruits!
    Again, people seemed really well prepared with yellow vests and lights, but if you only have one little blinkie on the rear, get another. And reflective gear too. You can buy amazingly reflective strips at any fabric store.
    Way to go, West Seattle!!

  • Matt October 25, 2011 (7:51 pm)

    65 minutes from Fremont to admiral @6 pm.
    Ballard bridge, waterfront, low bridge.

  • I. Ponder October 25, 2011 (8:04 pm)

    No change in bicycle commute.

  • work downtown October 25, 2011 (8:50 pm)

    Ok, I left my 18 lb laptop at work today. Ok it might weigh a bit less than that but its at least 6 years old and work issued. So not knowing where to catch the bus after work I looked up metro on line. no help really – tell me if I’m crazy. I work at 5th and Columbia and I can take the 56, 57 or 55 home. I go to their website and try to find where to catch the bus now – ha, 3rd and Pike or 3rd and Main. Really? I walk down from 5th avenue to 2nd avenue at 5 and start looking for my route number. I can’t find it anywhere. Continue walking south til Washington. No route number. I’m on the phone with Metro – no answer. Start walking back up 2nd avenue. Finally stop at 3rd and Main when I see the 57 on the posting. I missed it by 2 minutes. So have to wait another half hour. So heck 2 hours to travel to work and back today.

  • teacher/mom October 25, 2011 (9:06 pm)

    Husband and I both left Northgate area at 4 pm. He took Aurora, waterfront, and lower bridge. I took I5, Spokane, and upper bridge. We were curious who would get home first. We arrived in Admiral area within 30 seconds of each other, 75 minutes later.

  • Dunno October 25, 2011 (9:10 pm)

    23 min I-90 to West Seattle Bridge Exit, yesterday 29 min, both at close to 5:30pm.
    Yesterday trolls on the WSB, today, none, hurray!!!!!

  • rosenlaw October 25, 2011 (9:56 pm)

    Best thing I’ve seen all year on my commute home today: Saw a biker run a red on 1st avenue and got nailed by SPD. They were still writing his smugness a ticked while we all rolled by finally…

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