West Seattle traffic: 1st morning of Viaduct-closure workweek

(What follows is our as-it-happened morning-commute coverage. PM-commute updates later!)

(More cams on the WSB Traffic page; travel times on the city Travelers’ Info map)
It’s here – the first of five weekdays without the Alaskan Way Viaduct. We’re covering the commute with any and all information you need to know, regarding the bridges, the West Seattle Water Taxi (this week’s special schedule is here), I-5, and more.

FIRST PROBLEM OF THE MORNING: A crash on I-5 northbound at Mercer, and a thunderstorm that dumped a lot of rain in a short period of time – it’s dried out now but there’s standing water in spots. Suggested alternate route: West Seattle Bridge east to 4th Avenue South, get off and head north into downtown.

Our “Viaduct Crunch” partners at KING 5 are also posting minute-by-minute updates for the wider region, here.

6:06 AM UPDATE: Eastbound West Seattle Bridge still in good shape; a KING crew just reported live, driving onto it from the Avalon/Admiral/etc. access point, no backups. IMPORTANT WATER TAXI NOTE: If you’re parking on Harbor don’t let the “NO PARKING” signs scare you – they are meant to restrict overnight parking just this week, so that more street spaces on Harbor are clear (in addition to those 100+ extra spaces at Don Armeni.

6:18 AM UPDATE: The bridge backup has begun. (added – photo Tony Welch sent in the 6 am hour)

Meantime, from the Water Taxi dock: First run, 6:15 am just left, and we’re told 106 paid passengers were on board – “easily quadruple” the usual load for first thing in the morning.

(***the rest of our as-it-happened coverage is archived after the jump***)

6:30 AM UPDATE: The I-5 northbound Mercer crash is cleared, per WSDOT. From the West Seattle Bridge: Kate, via Facebook, tells us police are in place to bust bus-lane violators – so don’t bother trying. KING’s chopper just flew live over the 1st Avenue South Bridge – flowing well right now. You can get there by taking Highland Park Way or Roxbury.

6:43 AM UPDATE: Bridge still sluggish – that’s not likely to change, so we’ll just update the high bridge if there is a MAJOR problem (or if somehow it clears out). From the Water Taxi dock, good turnout for the 6:45 am run too, which is about to leave. We’ll add the official count when we get it. (added) 129 passengers; this run is leaving a few minutes late.

7:02 AM UPDATE: Regarding Water Taxi parking – our crew took a look. The special area at Don Armeni (marked by A-boards) is just about half full. If you’re parking on Harbor, it’s full until you get WEST of the Alki Tavern. Take the shuttles if you can! Via Twitter, @shermanscorner says 1st Avenue South heading north downtown is full, “like a game day.” (Added a few mins later) KING just drove the “low bridge” live – it’s NOT backed up at this point, so it’s a viable alternative, at least at the moment. We have a crew heading there too. P.S. Our “tweets” are part of the live minute-to-minute updates on KING’s special page (click the “play” button in the chat window to open it).

7:17 AM UPDATE: The 7:15 am Water Taxi run was a full house – they had to cut off the boarding with at least 20 people left in line. (Capacity is 150.) Usual load for this run, we’re told, is about 50.

7:35 AM UPDATE: We have a crew on the west side of the low bridge now. Still light, they report. Back at the Water Taxi dock – the Don Armeni parking area is FULL. Still some street parking but it’s further west than before, so you’ll have some walking to do. Meantime, a commute report from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen:

Carpooled in this morning. Left the house at 6:20 AM. It took about a 1/2 an hour to be dropped off at City Hall. Not bad but traffic was building. Four cars passed us on the right in the bus only lane. ALL WERE PULLED OVER BY SPD!!! I have sent a message to Police Chief Diaz thanking our officers for being there and stopping the drivers in those vehicles. I am monitoring this closely with SDOT and METRO and SPD .

7:49 AM UPDATE: The high bridge has now loosened up significantly, as shown by both the SDOT “live video” cams and KING’s chopper.

8 AM: High bridge still looks a lot better than usual for this time of morning. The low bridge, meantime, is slowing down. So if you have to leave now, take the high bridge! Water Taxi’s 7:45 am run, meantime, was full again (150 people) and a couple dozen had to wait for the next one:

Parking in Water Taxi area now appears to be completely full, street and lots – people are starting to park up California Way hill. One more note – our low-bridge crew still seeing lots of bicyclists (photo added, by WSB contributor Katie Meyer):

8:17 AM UPDATE: Both bridges look good. The 8:15 am Water Taxi was also at capacity, about two dozen people left to wait for the next one.

8:26 AM UPDATE: There is a crash at the east end of the low bridge – Cheryl via Twitter says it’s a bicyclist – we’re checking with SFD, and sending our low-bridge crew that way. (UPDATE) Not a bicyclist. Medical communication on the scanner says it’s a 35-year-old man, described as a jogger, hit by a semi-truck, being taken to Harborview Medical Center. Photo courtesy Mark:

(added) His injuries are described as non-life-threatening.

8:44 AM UPDATE: One last Water Taxi update: The 8:45 run will NOT be capacity, but will be “pretty full.” Among those taking it – County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who had said at the time of last Friday’s “viarace” that he planned to be back on board today. We asked him what if anything they might do to address today’s overflows (he chairs the Ferry District board) and he said that it’s hard to add boats for a short period of time on short notice, but they’ll be discussing how this morning went. (added – video of his quick interview with WSB co-publisher Patrick Sand):

And of course we have the evening commute ahead!

9:02 AM NOTE: That’s it for this morning’s comprehensive commute coverage. We’ll be following up with some of the agencies – and also adding a few visuals to this report that are just now arriving at HQ. What you’ll probably hear today is: Don’t just go back to normal tomorrow – what made the difference today was many people changing their commute times, changing their commute methods. Thanks for all the commute reports! We’ll have a separate report launched by 4 pm (sooner if needed) covering the evening commute, which of course has its own challenges even on a good day …

137 Replies to "West Seattle traffic: 1st morning of Viaduct-closure workweek"

  • WSTraffic October 24, 2011 (6:20 am)

    Big back up on the top bridge already.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (6:24 am)

      Thanks, we’ve been watching it since 5:30 and it JUST finally clogged as of about 6:15. The I-5 northbound problem at Mercer downtown is no doubt contributing.

  • Rich October 24, 2011 (6:24 am)

    Renegade bus driver!!! We’re taking the Viaduct anyway…..

    Actually. Bus flying by traffic on bridge. Bus fuller than normal, but some empty seats.

  • WSTraffic October 24, 2011 (6:32 am)

    The on ramp by the stadium is open and clear. Taking Alaska and getting back on 99 at the stadium is pretty quick.

  • Jasperblu October 24, 2011 (6:34 am)

    Glad to hear the cops are busting bus lane violators. Those self-entitled jerks deserve a little city citation love. Grrrrr.

  • Kyla October 24, 2011 (6:39 am)

    Morning commute went fine for me. I work in North Queen Anne and normally leave at 7. Left at 6ish today and took 4th Ave into downtown without any problems. It did seem to be starting to get heavy on the bridge but there were no slowdowns for me.

  • Me October 24, 2011 (6:42 am)

    At least 5 cops busting bus lane violators. Apparently VanPools do not get busted. Traffic eased a tiny bit just past the cops. Starting at 6:20 it took us 20 minutes to get to I-90.

  • Magpie October 24, 2011 (6:43 am)

    55left Cali and Andover at 6:35. Will see how long this takes. Bus at Fauntleroy and still seats available

  • Patrick October 24, 2011 (6:43 am)

    Took the 54 from the Alaska junction; made it to S. Jackson stop w/ in 20-25 minutes. (got on the bus just around 6 am).

  • Wundrgrrrl October 24, 2011 (6:47 am)

    From the outpost at Admiral Totem view point, the Admiral back up looks to be to about to City View drive

  • SuperAwesome October 24, 2011 (7:03 am)

    I left Westwood at 6:15 and took the back way out of WS to the 1st Ave South Bridge to 4th Avenue. Took me no time at all to get to I-90 – maybe 15 minutes. This is, however, almost 1 hour earlier than a normal work day. I can put up with anything for a week. :)

    Good luck everyone!

  • CJS October 24, 2011 (7:07 am)

    Caught the Water Taxi shuttle from the Junction for the first (6:15) run on the Water Taxi. Only 5 shuttle riders, but at least 100 people lined up for the boat. I could be wrong, but I think we crossed Elliott Bay in just 7 minutes, not 10 as scheduled. Not a bad commute, but I could already see that the WS Bridge was backing up as we crossed the bay.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (7:16 am)

      CJS – the Water Taxi is indeed capable of going faster than the posted times. They need it with these extra runs! – TR

  • William October 24, 2011 (7:12 am)

    Huge line up at the water taxi for the 7:15 sailing! Will everyone make the boat?

  • CountingCoup October 24, 2011 (7:15 am)

    From Admiral Totem Viewpoint: 6:37 the backup began across the full side of the west side of the bridge, by 6:50 it was just a crawl like a bad centipede horror movie. Glad I’m working from home today…

  • grrrrrrr October 24, 2011 (7:19 am)

    anyone know how long will it take to get from totem viewpoint to I5.

  • Dan October 24, 2011 (7:21 am)

    Pedaled over low bridge from the Triangle. Lots of bikes out today!

  • Spana October 24, 2011 (7:27 am)

    Took First Ave exit from West Seattle Bridge and hopped on open Northbound 99 viaduct at Royal Brougham. This was around 6:20 – things were moving well after I got off the bridge (which was backed up like around 7:30 or 8 on a normal day). Took me ~40 minutes to get to Fremont.

  • Pam Schwartz October 24, 2011 (7:32 am)

    My husband and daughter left WS at 6:15am to Capitol hill. Took them 40 minutes but went to breakfast before school.

  • Parent of two dughters October 24, 2011 (7:35 am)

    Just a quick observation: If Metro is so worried about the commute, why did the 6:04am 56 Express to downtown start 20 minutes late on it’s route this morning? It isn’t like they haven’t had time to make sure everything was going to run smoothly this morning.

  • Traci October 24, 2011 (7:36 am)

    Any word on how the lower bridge was around 6:30-7am? I may try that tomorrow.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (7:51 am)

      Traci – from what we have heard/seen, it’s been OK all morning.
      Parent of 2 – we’ll be following up with Metro/King County (and any other agencies) re: any glitches noticed, so we’ll make note of that, to see if we can find out. Haven’t heard of other bus trouble yet.

  • Jo October 24, 2011 (7:59 am)

    Avoiding the traffic by working from home today. No major traffic problems to report but did trip over the cat on my way to get another cup of coffee this morning.

  • jsv888 October 24, 2011 (8:01 am)

    Highpoint to Bellevue in 40 minutes. Left at 7:00am.

  • tk October 24, 2011 (8:02 am)

    @ 7:45am the traffic on the WS bridge suddenly cleared up (8:00am & still is wide open)!
    It’s very strange—everyone is either staying home and/or they all left one hour early. The bridge is so open it’s like a weekend…

  • WesCAddle October 24, 2011 (8:06 am)

    Judging from the WSDOT cameras at 8am the bridge and Avalon look wide open. Am I missing something?

    Is Carmageddon over already?

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (8:35 am)

      Everyone left early. And hundreds took the Water Taxi.

  • JW October 24, 2011 (8:06 am)

    Where were all the 54X riders? The 7:19 @ Cal/Faunt bus was nearly empty. Was worried I’d have to stand. Downtown on schedule even with reroute.

  • Heath October 24, 2011 (8:07 am)

    Took my normal bus at normal time when bridge is normally bumper to bumper and I could couunt on one hand the number of cars sharing the bridge with our bus. Everyone keep leaving super early! I could get used to thiis commute!

  • RobertSeattle October 24, 2011 (8:15 am)

    At 8:12 the “West Seattle Bridge Deck” camera shows the high bridge practically empty – Amazing.

  • Sue October 24, 2011 (8:15 am)

    I got on a bus near Jefferson Square at 7:20 (about 20 min. earlier than I usually get a bus) and arrived at work 10 minutes earlier than I usually do. Took about 30 min. to 3rd & Union.

  • Sue October 24, 2011 (8:18 am)

    Re: the people being turned away at the Water Taxi, do those taking the shuttle have any sort of priority boarding over the people who drove over? It would seem that if you’re taking the shuttle that is scheduled to meet a particular bus, and are actually bussing it as opposed to adding cars to the road, that you should have assurance that you’d make the boat on time.

  • Debbie October 24, 2011 (8:18 am)

    Just wanted to thank you guys for providing such great and up to date info!

  • WS Run October 24, 2011 (8:19 am)

    8:15 water taxi just left with approx. 50 people waiting on the dock.

  • Heath October 24, 2011 (8:24 am)

    I suppose I should note that my normal bus time is leaving Arbor Heights at 7:41. Traffic was more significant on 3rd Ave but I’m still going to be to work a good 20-30 minutes earlier thhan I normally would at the same time same route. I hope tis keeps up!

  • sam-c October 24, 2011 (8:28 am)

    it seems like all the normal 7:30-8 traffic happened an hour early. every -one went early today and now the bridge is empty…

  • Lori October 24, 2011 (8:32 am)

    I left WSHS between 6:15-6:20 this morning. Took the low bridge, cut over to 1st Ave to Atlantic and then up onto the viaduct. Arrived at my office in Wallingford at 6:40. Not too shabby. Coming home is what I’m really dreading, though.

  • don October 24, 2011 (8:32 am)

    maybe we should cancel the tunnel. Time shifting, bus routes, water taxi, bikes. Let us save the environment!

  • coffee October 24, 2011 (8:32 am)

    I think that more companies should offer work at home, for those people who can really do this, I have done it for almost 6 years, and it is something that is not for everyone. Also, its very nice to see the Water Taxi running full. I hope people get used to it and choose to use the Taxi over driving more. I am very lucky to work from home and most things I have to do are in West Seattle, so I don’t have to hit that bridge!

  • tk October 24, 2011 (8:34 am)

    Sue- how can/should the shuttle riders have priority over people walking, biking or being dropped off for the ferry? No way that sounds fair to me…

  • JanS October 24, 2011 (8:37 am)

    @Jo – lol..I work at home, didn’t trip over the cat yet…have always loved my commute :)

  • chet October 24, 2011 (8:37 am)

    Weird to see the bridge traffic so light at 8:30 .. guess I left too early! :)

  • Holly October 24, 2011 (8:42 am)

    I was happy to take the bus – but the #57 also arrived at my stop over 20 minutes late. I called Metro, and as far as they knew there shouldn’t have been a delay. Did they have a pep talk meeting that ran over time or something?

  • chill October 24, 2011 (8:42 am)

    I do not think that anyone was turned away from the water taxi, they just have to wait for the next one…

  • sun lover October 24, 2011 (8:46 am)

    Left doorstep on 48th and Hanford at 5:45, took me 17 minutes to get to my desk at 6th and Union. Maybe tomorrow will be worse as people start to venture out again?

  • Stu October 24, 2011 (8:51 am)

    Just got back from leading a group of bicycle riders into Pioneer Square. Took about 25 minutes as we were riding at the easy pace level. Hundreds to thousands of bike riders pouring out of West Seattle. Had to have some effect as it seemed auto traffic was actualy lighter than normal leaving West Seattle. Thanks to Cascade Bicycle Club stationing under the West Seattle Bridge with free coffee and free lights for those who needed either or both. Came across a few confused bike riders on the subject of route selection. I am sure they had plenty of help.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (9:01 am)

      Thanks for the update, Stu! We had a crew photographing bicyclists in the low bridge area, don’t know if she caught your group passing but we definitely plan to report on the bicycle commuters! – TR

  • rw October 24, 2011 (8:53 am)

    Glad the weather is clear. I can’t imagine getting stranded on the dock for an extra 30 minutes if it were raining. That would totally turn off potential water taxi riders.

  • JEM October 24, 2011 (8:54 am)

    Thank you all those who took vacation, worked from home, or left early this morning. My bus ride in was quicker than normal! I do think we might see a slow-down tomorrow as a delayed response. Let’s see what the evening commute brings.

  • yo October 24, 2011 (8:54 am)

    It’s going to be worse tonight, and by Wed morning it’ll be gridlock city from 6:30-9pm (congestion worse than usual that is). I’m predicting all this now.

    Glad this morn went smoothly!


  • Tom October 24, 2011 (8:56 am)

    Easy-as-pie bike commute, DOT support station on the west end of the low bridge, slight bike traffic jam on the trail when all the cyclists stopped to take photos of the viaduct coming down – steel rebar and chunks of concrete hanging against the bruised purple morning sky.

  • Jiggers October 24, 2011 (8:57 am)

    It will get worse as the week rolls on….

  • concernedinws October 24, 2011 (9:00 am)

    Reasonable commute this morning and everyone, save one person, was in a good mood and up for the challenge.
    Many thanks to the bus drivers during this time–good job!

  • raincity October 24, 2011 (9:03 am)

    On the water taxi runs that were packed, was there still room for bicycles? How well did it work getting on and off the taxi with a bike? I’m trying to figure out a way to still get on the water taxi – have to drop my daughter off at the school bus stop so I can’t leave at 6:30am!

  • Alki Observer October 24, 2011 (9:09 am)

    Glad the water taxi is working for commuters. However, many Harbor Avenue residents have been kicked in the teeth by DOT who posted restricted parking signs that force you to move your car between 2-5am. Not cool. This is there solution for freeing up “an estimated 120 parking spots”..according to the ridiculous handout they sent to residents this weekend. Its going to be a long week. I hope they move the taxi dock to Jack Block Park where there is more parking.

  • Al October 24, 2011 (9:15 am)

    Saw lots more cyclists on my usual pedal commute this morning (remember newbies – ride to the right so you don’t have a head-on collision with other cyclists and if it’s dark, light up!).

    It was a bit dicier crossing E. Marginal, had to ride up the sidewalk past S. Hanford to do so. And it looks like there is a left turn pocket now at S. Massachusetts which will allow a safer left turn into the optional bike detour. But be careful merging with traffic before then, drivers are moving faster than normal with heavier traffic volumes so it’s difficult to make a merge after the bike lane ends…
    and watch out at the King St. intersection. An 18-wheeler and other renegade car following truck ran the light there, driving on the wrong side of the road and another 18-wheeler made a right turn on red, ignoring the “walk” signal for peds/bikes and cut those of us waiting for that signal off.
    This afternoon will be hairy. Ride slow and pay attention to what’s going on around you.

  • amalia October 24, 2011 (9:19 am)

    LOVED seeing all the new cyclists! Thanks, WSDOT and CBC, for the station under the bridge. New cyclists, I hope it went well and if it didn’t, never fear- it only gets easier! Especially navigating that mess on Alaskan.

  • Quixote October 24, 2011 (9:21 am)

    Any update on the jogger or what happened? It looked pretty bad.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (9:36 am)

      Quixote – scanner traffic described the jogger as “jaywalking.” His injuries were described as non-life-threatening. I am going to be following up – might get more information on the crash cause but condition update not likely since I don’t know his name so can’t just call the hospital and say “so this guy was brought in” … TR

  • Nulu October 24, 2011 (9:26 am)

    How many riders were in the group you lead?

  • Kate K October 24, 2011 (9:35 am)

    Thanks for the great coverage, WSB!

  • sarelly October 24, 2011 (9:45 am)

    On my way to the water taxi I noticed an unusually large number of people waiting at bus stops.

    There were KOMO news cameras at the dock – anyone know why?

    I arrived 15 minutes early for the 8:45 boat, and there were already about 75 people in line ahead of me (I counted.) The water taxi “concierge” (I’m sure he has a different title, but you know who I’m talking about) was also counting people with a clicker. I’ve never seen that many commuters on board – only a handful of empty seats.

    Is it my imagination or was the boat moving faster than usual?

    Getting home will probably be more challenging.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (9:56 am)

      Sarelly, all the TV stations were there; according to my co-publisher, who was there from about 6:10 to 8:50. They all had the Water Taxi as part of their coverage – TR

  • mookie October 24, 2011 (9:48 am)

    “it seems like all the normal 7:30-8 traffic happened an hour early.”
    I agree! A lot lighter than I thought it would be, 7 am to 9 am this morning.

  • April October 24, 2011 (9:53 am)

    We took the 7:15 water taxi this a.m. We actually got up early and arrived just as the 6:45 was leaving the dock (a few minutes late). We noticed most of the street parking near the dock was already taken so we went down to the Don Armeni lot. Lined up on the lower dock about 5 minutes later, and glad we did. I did notice that although they turned people away, there were a lot of empty middle seats in the aisles although people were standing around the exit area. So, a few comments: people should move in to the rows to allow more people to sit down. I assume there was also more seating upstairs that people didn’t even check out, perhaps they didn’t know about it (perhaps the crew should mention this) and also think there could be room for bicycles if the people that were standing around in the bike rack area (even though there was seating available) would be willing to sit in those middle seats. I also think the crew should get people to sit down as i think the crowds of people were blocking the exits which i think is a some kind of fire code violation… doesn’t there need to be a clear path to the exit in case of emergency? Just some observations. Hopefully the crew can work on herding the crowds better. I know this is new for them to have such large crowds to deal with. The captain usually gets on the horn at the beginning of the ride anyway, maybe add a friendly reminder to move into the middle of aisles to allow other passengers room to sit would be a good idea, as well as mentioning additional (interior) seating available upstairs.

  • austin October 24, 2011 (10:00 am)

    Many more bikes coming out of west seattle around 7ish than usual, great to see.

  • Lorelee October 24, 2011 (10:03 am)

    Start a water taxi to downtown from the fauntleroy terminal!!!

  • Barb October 24, 2011 (10:10 am)

    April, you should send Joe McDermot’s office an email about making sure the crew gets people to fill the boat. Don’t need to have 20 people left behind because people aren’t moving into open seats.

  • Barb October 24, 2011 (10:11 am)

    They can’t add more boats but if they added extra staff or volunteers to manage the boarding, seating, etc. they could make sure and get 20-30 extra people on each run (plus allow bikes)

  • Alki Observer October 24, 2011 (10:18 am)

    Great idea Lorelee. Fill the Lincoln Park lots with commuter cars.

  • Anomie 2 October 24, 2011 (10:21 am)

    Opening the bus lane on the Bridge for car traffic for those who exit on 1st South would ease some of the artificial congestion that has resulted from having 2 lanes non-serviceable on the bridge. Waste of taxpayer money to have 4 police cars catching folks at the base of the bridge.

  • MJB October 24, 2011 (10:31 am)

    great commute! i took the 8:13Am 21X and got to work quicker than normal. the bridge was so light it was kinda surreal. only backup was when we turned on 4th Avenue south to head toward jackson. thanks to everyone who could stay home and did!

  • 55thAlki October 24, 2011 (10:32 am)

    Does the water taxi have a capacity of just 150, even though there are more seats? If the issue that made them cut off boarding really was people not using the middle seats that would be really silly. I assume its a boat capacity issue though.

    Did anyone take the 37 at around 7:30? How did that go?


  • Always confused October 24, 2011 (10:33 am)

    re: the Water Taxi…as a regular user I noticed that people aren’t comfortable with asking others to “move in” or to “make way” if you’d like to take an interior seat. Just ask! Also, the boat has a maximum capacity, regardless of whether people are sitting or standing so empty seats weren’t the reason why anyone was left on the dock. The crew is doing a fantastic job (as usual). Best to everyone! I hope you have a great week!

  • Stu October 24, 2011 (10:37 am)

    There was 5 bicycle riders that left the Admiral District a little after 7am. All felt more comfortable in a group and liked the route selection. We were however a drop in the Ocean compared to all the other riders out there today. Good weather for most of the week making for more daily fun on a bike. There were some riders who could have used more route information today. There will be a station under the bridge again on Wednesday. Route information available. I plan on demoing the portable bike shop from the West Seattle Tool Library available to all for check out.

  • CH October 24, 2011 (10:38 am)

    High Point to South Lake Union in 30 minutes. Took lower bridge, onto WS Bridge, exit 4th, 4th to DT then cut across (not mercer) to Lake Union. Mercer Street was a mess.

    Left house at 7:02 and made it to work by 7:30ish.

  • dbsea October 24, 2011 (10:42 am)

    FULL water taxi, got to work on time, took regular 815 run. Parking tough in the area. Nice folks patiently waiting in line.

    Except for the regular rider who thought he didn’t have to wait. Actually just walked into the line at the top of the ramp. And the line was all the way out to the street. Said “Not everybody is going to get on anyway.” So it’s OK to cut ! Beat it, back of the line loser. That was the ONLY bad behaviour I saw. Well done WS !

  • MSW October 24, 2011 (10:47 am)

    We need more shuttle on the city side for ferry and water taxi riders. #16 is the only bus on the waterfront and I think it runs every 15 minutes. But it never seems to leave when you need it to. The driver also doesn’t let passenger in while it waits. It would be nice to at least get out of the rain while waiting for the departure.

  • Walnut October 24, 2011 (10:48 am)

    Thanks to WSB for the great reporting this morning!
    I decided to take the 56X from Admiral/41st Ave SW at 8:30am instead of chancing a long wait at the water taxi.
    As others mentioned the high bridge was clear. 4th Ave got a bit choked up around the stadiums, but only added about 10 minutes to the commute.

  • skeeter October 24, 2011 (10:50 am)

    Thank you SO MUCH to all the folks who bicycled. It’s not a practical option for my wife and I – we bring our infant daughter in our car. (At least we carpool!) With so many folks biking it really helps those of us who don’t have a good option other than driving.

  • WSTroll October 24, 2011 (10:51 am)

    Trying to get to the lower bridge from SoDo at the moment. Complete gridlock. 30 minutes so far trying to get from 1st to the waterfront.

  • MB October 24, 2011 (10:51 am)

    Only one comment…WHY ARE THERE NOT EXTRA WATER TAXI RUNS IN THE MORNING….I am sorry to say but his is the typical non progressivce Seattle thinking of WHy convince people to use other forms of transportation then thier car…I would have gotten to my office downtown 30mins quicker in my car this morning since the 7:45 water taxi was full had to wait till 8:15??????

  • Optimistic October 24, 2011 (11:24 am)

    Yay for WS commuters! Getting out on bikes, taking bus and water taxi and working from home. Wouldn’t it be great if we kept this up? Especially proud of the cyclists. Hopefully we can all help out so new bike commuters can feel supported and inspired to keep going. Not only is it great for the environment, when you got to work this morning did you have a sense of accomplishment? Far different from the feeling you get of sitting in traffic. Keep pedaling!

  • amalia October 24, 2011 (11:31 am)

    I read on the Cascade Bike Club site that the jogger was badly hurt (written by a cyclist who stopped to help): Multiple serious injuries including head/brain trauma, cuts and a crushed arm.
    I hope s/he is okay.

  • William October 24, 2011 (11:34 am)

    @ sarelly and @ 55thAlki The current water taxi boats are limited to 150 passengers as the maximum safe number per the US Coast Guard. The max passenger number has nothing to do with the number of seats on the boat. It has to do with things like the size of the boat, the boat’s stability when loaded, the number of life jackets, and number of crew. The County could use boats certified for more passengers, but they are trying to minimize costs.

  • WSTraffic October 24, 2011 (11:52 am)

    Apparently the Roal Brougham on-ramp to 99 north is now closed due to Viaduct pieces falling… Hope it is back open in the morning…

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (12:00 pm)

      The ramp is supposed to be closed till 2 pm – we’re checking to find out more.

  • waman October 24, 2011 (11:54 am)

    It added 10 minutes to my drive, not so bad…no big deal..

  • Justin October 24, 2011 (12:08 pm)

    As I was riding into West Seattle this morning, I passed what looked like a bicycle / semi truck accident at the east end of the low bridge. There was a fire truck on the scene, and a couple police and ambulance coming across the bridge.

    does anyone know what happened?

    My advice to all cyclists (myslef included) is to take the bike route that loops under the bridge, don’t try biking through that intersection at the base of the bridge.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (12:37 pm)

      Justin – The crash was a semi vs. jogger and it is covered in this story. Was **NOT** a bicyclist. – TR

  • rob October 24, 2011 (12:09 pm)

    @skeeter : if you would like to know about biking with your daughter i’d be happy to share how i do it with my kids.

  • MSW October 24, 2011 (12:09 pm)

    I’m a bit disappointed with the water taxi. This morning a lot of people got left behind. Why isn’t there more boats during the peak morning commute. How about hiring the “Ducks” and have them take passengers where they need to go. Come on let’s get creative. Maybe we need to have Tuk Tuk (three wheel motorcycle used in Thailand) waiting for passenger at the ferry terminal to take passenger around the city.

  • Schmitz (not Emma) October 24, 2011 (12:17 pm)

    God this “comprehensive” coverage is sh*tty!!!!

    You couldn’t see fit to mention HOW MUCH TIME IS ADDED to regular viaduct bus routes who now have to go downtown via 4th avenue??

    You should already be able to have an accurate forecast for the days to come based on many, steady reports of bus timing between the Delridge/Spokane area and 4th & Union/Pike.

    Exactly how many minutes, on average, are added to the usual trip… and graph something so simple to reflect light traffic, and then the gradual evolution of the morning commute.

    (*no, we don’t need an actual graph, we just want to know how much time it takes to get downtown!!!)

    Why wouldn’t this have been the first thing included in “comprehensive” coverage?

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (12:34 pm)

      Hi, Schmitz. Sorry you didn’t find the coverage helpful. The experts refused to predict bus times. It’s not something the media can guess either. If you find a news outlet that is, then I take off my hat to them – TR

  • sarelly October 24, 2011 (12:44 pm)

    @William…Just out of curiosity, why would a boat have more seats than the number of passengers it is legally allowed to carry? Wouldn’t that be kind of like putting an extra seat on the roof of your car but never riding in it because of the safety issue? (I actually wondered as we were crossing if the boat might sink due to excess weight. The sound of the dock’s ramp creaking while people stood on it waiting to board didn’t exactly comfort me, either.)

    @TR – I am surprised that the water taxi operations are considered to be newsworthy on a regional level. For us here, sure.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (1:13 pm)

      To Schmitz-not-Emma – I just checked with Metro spokesperson Linda Thielke to be sure I hadn’t forgotten about some bus estimate discussed at one of the kazillion briefings we covered. Nope. Here’s her overall response: “Travel times for all vehicles are unpredictable, not just buses. If you leave the Junction at 8 am, you have no way of knowing how many other people left the area at 8 am…if one of them will stall/block on the WS Bridge…if a traffic light will malfunction in SODO…and a zillion other variables. This morning around 8:30, we weren’t seeing any bus delays beyond about 10 minutes. That’s not to say every bus was delayed 10 mins, or that a handful might have been delayed longer. But, in general, the delays during the meat of the morning commute for buses ranged from 1-10 minutes on average.”
      For Sarelly – Re: the number of seats – These boats have served in different capacities in different states and even countries (including running workers out to a test site in the south Pacific!) – and USCG rules for this use and this body of water (brrr) may not be the same as elsewhere. These are leased boats that had a rich and full life BEFORE the county rented them. Re: newsworthiness of Water Taxi operations – The morning news time period is massively competitive (I executive-produced morning news at two local stations here during my Seattle TV tenure), especially traffic (and weather). This week, it’s all about OWNING the viaduct-closure story. And they’re all working as many angles as possible to do that … the WT is one of them.

  • Kristi October 24, 2011 (12:45 pm)

    @Schmitz (not Emma) – I tried searching all over the place for this type of estimate and nobody had them. You just need to do what the rest of us did this morning and head out, hope for the best, and then maybe report back on your findings. Last I checked, griping at the WSB folks doesn’t really help anyone or anything.

    WSB – THANK YOU for the great and helpful coverage!

  • Laurie October 24, 2011 (12:51 pm)

    My hat’s off to you, WSB. You shared as much information as you could, under the circumstances.

    I stressed all weekend, trying to decide how I should get to work only to realize there was NO way to predict. When I saw the WSB posts about the heavy water taxi usage, I opted for my usual buses and was pleasantly surprised at the speed of my commute.

  • Cheryl October 24, 2011 (12:59 pm)

    Sorry, assumed the guy was a cyclist since I rarely/ever see joggers on the lower bridge route… just saw him laying on the ground and covered, with rescue inserting a backboard. There was at least 2 semi’s in front of us, and maybe 2 cars, when he was hit, so didn’t see the actual impact. Lots of people had stopped for him, and the fire station under the bridge responded first (they came up behind us). I’m so glad to hear his injuries are non life threatening! Scary!

  • Cheryl October 24, 2011 (1:04 pm)

    Btw, it was the weirdest thing. My BF was taking me to the water taxi (for a kiss and ride). We hit Avalon on the way to the Water Taxi at about 8:12am. There was NO TRAFFIC all the way down Avalon (which almost never happens most mornings). Then, we looked up at the high bridge, and it was wide open. Too late to grab the 8:15am ferry, too late to jump on for the high bridge, so took the lower bridge, and then bam, the jogger got hit in front of us. Oops! But after we cleared that snarl, we were on our way into downtown without incident.
    That said, I don’t expect the same “luck” tomorrow. And from what people are saying in comments above, the water taxi parking spots were full pretty early (well before 8am), and the line waiting for each run was also backed up. Sigh. Hopefully, tomorrow I can just zoom in via the lower bridge again. We’ll see.

  • Jeanne&Mark October 24, 2011 (1:05 pm)

    Decided to do the “commuter commiseration” bike ride this morning. We rolled down from Pigeon Point to the Cascade Bike Club and WSDOT booth near the east terminus of the low West Seattle Bridge. Hooked up with Ed from Cascade and we sipped coffee and watched a couple hundred bike commuters pass by…

    Then headed over to East Marginal southbound for a quiet, nearly car-less spin to my office at South Park. SWEEET!

    Thanks for the coverage WSB and Thanks to Ed from Cascade, the WSDOT folks and other volunteers this morning.

  • RK October 24, 2011 (1:13 pm)

    Any update on the Royal Brougham onramp to NB 99? I saw something on King 5 that it may be closed for the remainder of the viaduct closure. Hoping not.

  • April October 24, 2011 (1:25 pm)

    I can NOT believe someone on here (Schmitz-not-Emma) had the audacity to complain about WSB’s comprehensive and extensive coverage of this – and may i mention they do this without charging us readers a dime. It’s free. Wow. The sense of entitlement is astounding.

    Thank you again, WSB, for having the best and most comprehensive coverage, as usual, of all things effecting us West Seattleites. You guys rock.

  • skeeter October 24, 2011 (1:28 pm)

    @rob – thanks for the offer. We’ll try biking with our daughter at some point. But there is no way we’ll consider biking with an infant on South Marginal Way in rush hour where my wife works. But thank you for the offer.

  • Cheryl October 24, 2011 (1:28 pm)

    For those whom rode the Water Taxi for the very first time this morning, or who have only ridden it once and awhile, those of us who ride regularly get there however we can (car, bike, shuttle, dropped off, walk, etc.), and then we line up on the dock, up the ramp and into the parking lot if need be. First come, first served.
    The WT workers are quick, courteous and haul butt to get the commuters on the boat, across the bay, off the boat, reloaded, rinse, repeat, all day… every day. I’m sure things were a little frantic this morning. And I’m sure they will have it down to a science by the end of the week. Give them some time to adjust to these increased passenger numbers. Really, kudos to them b/c I’m sure it ain’t easy to do. Especially given how many WS’ers complain, about everything.
    Same goes for bus commuting. First time taking the bus? New to the bus? It’s a crap shoot EVERY SINGLE DAY on how fast (or slow) the going will be. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes into downtown. Other times, it’s taken more than a hour. Rarely, it’s taken 2 hours. Stuff happens. People crash, cut each other off, traffic backs up, it rains, a train that’s 1,000 miles long goes by and backs up the off/on ramps. You never know how it’s going to go is my point. And you never will.
    But the good news is you’ll get used to it. I have. And all things considered, MOST of the time, it takes me 30-40 minutes one way, regardless of the mode of transport I choose on any given work day. And sometimes (gasp!), it actually takes LESS time to get to/from work than I expected. Last week, I had two evenings where my commute back home (live near Westwood Village) from Pioneer Square took 10 minutes!! What a wonderful feeling that was!
    And remember, some weekends have been even worse than the average week day.
    Anyway, I’m not sure what Tracy, the West Seattle Blog, or even SDOT could do better to convey what’s the latest/greatest news re: commute times. I for one am grateful I even have the option of checking w/ them on twitter, FB or via Google Maps, to see what is happening before I leave my home.
    With one exception, those electronic signs telling us how long it’ll be til we get over the bridge to 1st Ave., the I-5, or the 99. Those signs are way wrong, most of the time. Dummy signs.
    Thanks TR and the WSB for keeping us informed. You done good IMO.

  • sarelly October 24, 2011 (1:44 pm)

    WSB –

    Ohhhhhhh [face palm]. Thanks. I hadn’t thought about the previous lives of the boats. Another mystery solved.

    It occurs to me that images of boats and water make more attractive footage than those of highways and cars, so maybe that’s the TV angle…but region-wide coverage of what is essentially a local story (our neighborhood, yours and mine) reminds me a bit of the non-stop Nisqually earthquake coverage, where they worked it until all they could add was a news anchor standing on a sidewalk somewhere talking about a styrofoam cup that had tipped over in a church basement hundreds of miles from here.


  • datamuse October 24, 2011 (1:53 pm)

    Wow, Schmitz. Just, wow. Have another latte and chill, wouldya?

  • amalia October 24, 2011 (1:57 pm)

    @ Skeeter and Optimistic –
    Thanks for noticing that more bikes=fewer cars :). I couldn’t bring myself to put a baby on my bike in this town (although I just might try a fake one and hope that drivers threaten me less!).
    Complaining about the WSB coverage! Entitlement, indeed!!!
    As always, thanks for everything, WSB!

  • Jiggers October 24, 2011 (1:59 pm)

    The bus re-route have always been aweful here. Coming back to W.S., you have to go South out of the way for at least 6 miles before you come back onto Marginal Way heading Norh. Then you go up Avalon. Going into downtown on the bus,I wonder how much it cost to build that temporary off ramp.

  • Lomie October 24, 2011 (2:20 pm)

    Well I adjusted my work scheduled like WSDOT asked us to do and waited to go into work after the morning rush. Found out the hard way that they closed the Northbound 99 onramp by the stadiums around 10:45. This onramp was advertised as an alternative route to be open not sure what happened there.

  • Guy October 24, 2011 (2:21 pm)

    I plan on going to the Alki Tavern and having wings and cheap beer tonight. And watching Monday Night Football.

  • rw October 24, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    I can only imagine that Schmitz-not-Emma was deliberately trying to yank our chains or being satirical. I hope WSB did not take that “critique” personally.

  • JAT October 24, 2011 (3:49 pm)

    I passed over the high bridge fairly easily this a.m., though I left a half hour earlier than I otherwise would have (coyly not telling exactly when) and saw the King5 van crossing into W-Sea to begin their exhaustive coverage…

    So here’s my nit: given this was to be a stressful traffic day for us all why did the media feel a need to put more vehicles into the mix?

    Even Cienna Madrid of the Stranger pointlessly drove to and from W-Sea to see if it could be done. King5 crossing back and forth in hopes of getting some meaningless footage of Jim Foreman in his parka (or whoever the low man on the totem pole is these days) standing in front of gridlock?

    Presumably all the other local TV stations sent camera crews on repeated cross bridge jaunts as well.


    • WSB October 24, 2011 (4:15 pm)

      JAT, an interesting take. I was going to go out in the field but decided to stay home and collect info from the desk. Husband went out to the Water Taxi dock and stayed put. Contributor Katie went to the west end of the low bridge, and stayed put. So hopefully our efforts didn’t make things worse! – TR

  • 44th Neighbor October 24, 2011 (4:10 pm)

    WSB – someone mentioned that vanpools weren’t being stopped for using the bus lane. Is that legal — or more importantly, is it acceptable this week? Pls advise if you know anything!

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (4:13 pm)

      No one is SUPPOSED to use the bus lane but buses. We checked that with authorities a couple days ago.

  • Amanda October 24, 2011 (4:25 pm)

    Afternoon commute is already sluggish. 1 hour from downtown to admiral. I left at 3:30.

  • pie October 24, 2011 (4:31 pm)

    My prediction is that tomorrow will be the “Viadoom” day – all people who left early today / worked from home will think “Gee, that wasn’t bad at all! I’ll go back in at my usual time / go back into the office tomorrow!”

  • William October 24, 2011 (4:41 pm)

    @sarelly, good question. A boat might be outfitted with more seats than the “legal” capacity, because the capacity might vary according to how many crew are on board. That is the Coast Guard might say “X” passengers are allowed on the boat with a certain number of crew, and a capacity of “Y” if you add so many more crew. The Coast Guard wants enough crew aboard to manage an evacuation, should that be necessary.

  • JAT October 24, 2011 (4:43 pm)

    WSB, I certainly don’t include you in my criticism…

  • Kjb October 24, 2011 (4:44 pm)

    This afternoon, I noticed quite a few cars driving in the 99 lane all the way to the end, then merging. I don’t think that should be allowed! Was glad to see the bus lane being enforced this morning. I had a smoother than normal merge from Delridge and rode it out with the rest of them!

  • schmitz (not emma) October 24, 2011 (5:06 pm)

    So we bother to report thunderstorms as if they are meaningful to the Viaduct closure, and we bother to report that “travel times for all vehicles are unpredictable” as if that is significant, but we don’t exhibit the good common sense to compile data and details from various participants for use in this “comprehensive” coverage of the new traffic patterns caused by the Viaduct closure???

    Travel times for cats are unpredictable too, but does that warrant mention in this now-comprehensive-for-cats-but-apparently-not-for-human-commuters coverage?

    There, right up above, in case your “comprehensive” coverage missed it – “Amanda” tells of having left downtown (driving, perhaps?) at 3:30 and of arriving in the Admiral area an hour later.

    If you have all of these people… some no doubt typing these responses into portable devices while driving/sitting in traffic, surely you could make use of similar folks who may be safely sitting aboard a bus doing the same thing.

    And the reason some of us landed at this website is that it was linked from elsewhere, as if there was additional information to be garnered here (in what is obviously not “comprehensive” coverage).

  • Paul in Gatewood October 24, 2011 (5:42 pm)

    Schmitz, if WSB’s coverage doesn’t meet your exacting standards, go elsewhere. Your nasty disposition won’t be missed one bit.

  • Valerie October 24, 2011 (5:44 pm)

    Schmitz-not-etc., – get over yourself.

  • Miche October 24, 2011 (5:45 pm)

    Really?? A train at 5:00 p.m.???

  • carl October 24, 2011 (6:54 pm)

    Van pool vehicles are not buses as defined by RCW/SMC. It could be that there were only 3 officers stopping bus lane cheaters and that a few, including van pool vehicles, made it past the officers while they were busy with other cheaters. That’s my guess.

  • Dunno October 24, 2011 (7:04 pm)

    Since he or she can’t seem to keep it to themselves, I can’t either.

    “Dip Schmitz”

  • Marianne October 24, 2011 (8:24 pm)

    Commute to Wallingford took ony an extra 15 minutes. Commute on the way home much longer- I just assumed the 1st Ave S bridge would not have its 6pm raising due to the viaduct demolition. Wrong.

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (8:27 pm)

      I believe it went up just after 6 pm. They only committed to refrain (as much as possible) 3-6 pm.

  • Karissa October 24, 2011 (8:34 pm)

    Here is an update to the 8:26am “accident”, it was a local guy who decided to run to work instead of drive his truck. Unfortunately his “commute/run” to work was ruined when he was struck by a semi truck….


  • Karissa October 24, 2011 (9:22 pm)

    @Amalia & @Justin –

    The “jogger” involved in the semi truck accident was a friend of mine. We will be hosting a benefit/fundraiser to help get him back on his feet. Both literally and financially. Please see the following link for more information. http://www.peanutbuttercoast.com/2011/10/back-in-water.html

  • DenverFirefighter October 24, 2011 (10:52 pm)

    The jogger who was hit by the semi-truck is my brother. Contrary to what the update to the blog entry on the accident states, his injuries WERE life-threatening. Seattle Fire did an outstanding job treating my brother and stabilizing him for transport. He is alive today thanks to the quick work of Engine 36, Truck 7 and Medic 32. Thank you, brothers.
    – Chris

    • WSB October 24, 2011 (11:04 pm)

      Denver, I just minutes ago posted an update in another story, though devoid of any characterization of injuries except to quote a website which talks about your brother’s status (its author posted the link in a comment). We wish him a thorough recovery. As we attributed, that was how it was assessed, repeatedly, in multiple exchanges of scanner traffic – though obviously the assessment upon hospital arrival supersedes, and because of HIPAA, there is no way to get information on that. Generally here they make that determination at the scene because if it IS believed to be a life-threatening-injury case, they call out the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad, which typically spends a few hours at the scene. In this case, they did not call out TCIS, and the scene was cleared so fast, most of the responders were gone by the time a reporter I had at the other end of the bridge got to the scene to try to find out more in person. I appreciate your update as we’ve received several notes tonight asking about any new information on how he’s doing – Tracy

  • Rosanne October 24, 2011 (11:20 pm)

    I love the idea of a water taxi from Fauntleroy! It’s unlikely to fill Lincoln park’s lots with commuter cars though. It could get thousands of Vashon people into downtown car-free! Plus all of us residents could bus or walk there and avoid the west seattle bridge.

  • DenverFirefighter October 24, 2011 (11:48 pm)

    My apologies, wasn’t calling any of your reporters/editors out. My comment came out that way, though. I know what it’s like in the newsroom; I worked as a newpaper reporter for 10 years before I got into public safety.
    Keep up the good work.

  • jmks October 25, 2011 (1:23 am)

    I was surprised that everyone either left hour/s earlier or took alt. transportation today. I usually leave late (after 7), because W.Seattle seems sleepier on Mondays; the early commuters kinda shocked me.

    Good luck to everyone tomorrow!

Sorry, comment time is over.