West Seattle traffic: Viaduct-less Wednesday, AM updates


(More cams on the WSB Traffic page; travel times on the city Travelers’ Info map)
Will the “earlier rush hour” trend hold through today too? We’re watching the commute again this morning; let us know how it goes for you. No problems reported in the area right now.

6:02 AM UPDATE: We’re continuing our weeklong traffic-watching collaboration with KING 5; their crew that just drove onto the “high bridge” says it’s a little busier than yesterday at this time. We’re watching the bridge via the new live-video cams linked here (lower right).

6:18 AM UPDATE: Eastbound high bridge is now officially slow going. KING is showing a live chopper shot of both bridges – the low bridge is busy but not as slow. First Water Taxi run just left – 87 people, down from just over 100 each of the first two mornings of the week.

6:31 AM UPDATE: Our Water Taxi crew is diverting over to the 1200 block of Alki Avenue SW, where a water-main break is reported and police have been asked for “traffic control.” Back to the bridges – high bridge slow, low bridge not as busy. KING 5’s crew driving the bridge again reports police are back to enforce the bus lane, as they’ve done the past two mornings.

6:41 AM UPDATE: No “water-main break” – just an outdoor sprinkler malfunction, so there’s some water in the street but NOT a problem. Our crew’s headed back to the Water Taxi dock – by the way, here’s its Viaductless-week schedule – where there’s “only” ONE TV crew this morning.

6:51 AM UPDATE: 107 people on the 6:45 am Water Taxi (that’s down only a few from yesterday). KING crew timed their bridge drive from 35th/Fauntleroy to I-5 – 32 minutes. Probably about the same now, bridges still sluggish (you can check current travel times from the city map too – lower right, near the “live video” links). Low bridge busy too.

7 AM UPDATE: We checked Water Taxi parking. Don Armeni lot only about a quarter full. Street parking still available from parallel with Alki Tavern, westward. High bridge now looks stop-n-go. Commute times we’re getting via Twitter and comments similar to yesterday. KING’s reporter in the Traffic Management Center says the official city overview is about the same. Metro just sent its 7 am update – no problems, but “building traffic volumes” in SODO, which the city is seeing too:

(That’s the newest image from 1st South, looking north; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
7:17 AM UPDATE: KING’s roving crew is on 1st Avenue South – busy but still moving. Tried the 4th offramp from the bridge lately? Once you get there, of course – high bridge still slow. (added) 7:15 Water Taxi count, 114. Still room for you to give it a try if you’re still mulling commute options.

7:33 AM UPDATE: Don Armeni lot for Water Taxi about 3/4 full (so 20 or so spots left), and there’s still street parking. High bridge still slow – great sunrise, though. No problems or crashes reported anywhere.

7:47 AM UPDATE: Most recent view from KING chopper, looking at both bridges – low is moving a lot faster than high. 1st Avenue South Bridge looks OK, via its WSDOT camera. Looks foggy over the Sound to the west – toward Vashon – of note if you’re a ferry commuter. Has NOT looked foggy over Elliott Bay, though, and in fact, we should get our updated Water Taxi report any time now. … and here it is: 108. So the boat has not “sold out” yet this morning.

7:55 AM UPDATE: And we’ve just passed the magic moment, apparently – like the past two days, the high bridge is starting to empty out. Still brake lights on the eastbound stretch. Which reminds us, the Royal Brougham onramp to northbound 99 is again open till 7 pm, as it’s scheduled to be the next two days, so if you need to go north of downtown and 99 is your usual route, you can still do that, but the surface streets may take you a while to get to 1st/Royal Brougham.

8:05 AM UPDATE: We’re not sure yet if it’s going to cause serious trouble but there’s a medical call on I-5 northbound around Pine – so if you are leaving shortly and headed downtown, that 4th Avenue So. exit from the bridge might be a better choice. We’ll keep an eye on it.

8:23 AM UPDATE: Last Water Taxi report from our crew – 8:15 sailing had 110. High bridge moving along, but do note that downtown I-5 northbound incident is reported by WSDOT to be blocking two lanes, and this I-5 cam shows a jam (not that I-5 is usually anything else at this time of day, in our experience).

8:33 AM UPDATE: Definitely do NOT head for I-5 northbound. Now three lanes blocked through downtown. If you are going to the eastbound bridge, take the 1st or 4th exits, or head for the 1st Avenue South Bridge via Roxbury or Highland Park Way (or West Marginal if you are coming from north West Seattle)

8:57 AM UPDATE: High bridge still backed up, no doubt because of the northbound I-5 incident. We’ll keep the commute updates going till that’s cleared. (added) WSB commenters have been discussing the incident; our fellow neighborhood-news publishers at Capitol Hill Seattle say “person fell” in an area where falling/jumping is not uncommon.

9:09 AM UPDATE: The I-5 incident (a man died after either falling or jumping from overpass) is clear, according to KING via Twitter. Also via Twitter, some bicycling info from WSDOT: “Cool info: 125 cyclists checked in at WSDOT bike checkpoint in WS at Alki trail between 6:45 – 7:15 am! Thx for helping w/ commute!!”

10:20 AM NOTE: Ridership numbers for the Water Taxi are posted. If you add up and compare each of the past three mornings, there was a drop of almost 25% from Monday to Tuesday, but Tuesday to today didn’t lose that much. High-bridge still looks a bit slow, by the way, but moving.

AFTERNOON POSTSCRIPT: The police patrol of the bus lanes yielded fewer violators than the past two mornings – 19 bus-lane tickets today.

55 Replies to "West Seattle traffic: Viaduct-less Wednesday, AM updates"

  • LyndaB October 26, 2011 (6:47 am)

    Left the house at 6:16 from 35th and Juneau. Drove to UW using 23rd ave. Got to parking lot here at 6:46.

  • LMC October 26, 2011 (6:47 am)

    My first morning on the water taxi – at 6:30 I was the 7th person in line for the 6:45 boat. Easy wait, now on the boat with dozens of other folks. Boat now leaving, lots of open seats. I didn’t mind the motion on the quay, but if you are prone to motion sickness you might want to wait up on shore.

  • jen October 26, 2011 (6:50 am)


    is that what is causing the helicopters to hover? It’s very very loud. Is it just a news helicopter pointing a stupid camera at some cars driving that’s keeping me awake? How does Broadmoor keep out sick kids’ helicopters, and the news can screw me over to look at some cars? I am so mad and tired.

  • Christy October 26, 2011 (6:55 am)

    Yesterday driving back was a nightmare. I had no option but to drive because of sales calls I had to make all over the city … and I paid dearly. From Interbay to West Seattle, leaving at 5:25 took 1 hour and 45 minutes, using a combo of Alaskan Way and First.

    Looks like dinner in Ballard tonight!

  • Jamie October 26, 2011 (7:06 am)

    another breezy viadoom commute, due to flexing my schedule for this week only. left morgan junction area at 615, high bridge backed up a bit but not too bad. traveled to cap hill via beacon hill, at my desk by 640!

  • A October 26, 2011 (7:12 am)

    Sitting in my office, looking westward to the bridge. The EB high bridge looks pretty slow, but it IS moving about one car length per second. By my math, that’s about 6MPH, which matches the report above of 32 min across the bridge end to end.

    Last night in downtown was an absolute nightmare. Left work to pick up the spousal unit from a meeting, and about 40% of the streets down there were blocked off, and the rest were bumper to bumper with angry people who wouldn’t let folks merge. It was a mess, and took well over 30 min to get from 3rd and Jefferson to the James St entrance to 5 south. Over an hour to get all the way home to Westwood.

  • Sue October 26, 2011 (7:15 am)

    I headed to work an hour earlier than I have the past two days – on the 54 bus at Jefferson Square around 6:20. The bus was considerably more crowded (but seats available), and took the same amount of time to 3rd/Union (25 min.). The trip in has not been bad, but it’s frustrating that my normal trip home on the 54X used to be about 20 min. and is 2 to 2-1/2 times that.

  • Glenn October 26, 2011 (7:16 am)

    I’m in line for the 7:15 water taxi. It looks like fewer people this morning. The boat still had room yesterday. Room + a 10 minute crossing… This is the way to commute!

  • Agbee October 26, 2011 (7:21 am)

    Left Alaska Junction at 6:30, took 1st to Royal Brougham and then back onto 99N, got to 45th in Wallingford by 7:05. High bridge was a little slower today and 1st was packed but moving well. Each day this week has been a little bit more crowded than the day before but still pretty easy and quick. The evening commute, leaving Wallingford at 6:00pm, has been a lot worse than the morning commute!

  • Cclarue October 26, 2011 (7:25 am)

    Cars are speeding like crazy on 16th from Holden to the college. I even saw one car pass 3 cars in the opposing lane !!!! At 6:45.Kids are out waiting for school busses just after 7. Slow down people..!! Be careful out there everyone. Especially cyclists and those on foot. People are getting viacrazy.

  • Karen October 26, 2011 (7:42 am)

    Was on the 113 heading into the City – left 26th and Roxbury at 6:34. Was pretty breezy until we turned off of Marginal and got stuck by one of those trains doing that stupid back and forth thing. We sat there for 20 minutes. I thought BNSF wasn’t going to do that anymore during rush hour. Argh!

    Last night took the light rail to the airport and then the 560 back to my house. Was a pretty nice commute – took about an hour but no one complaining about being stuck in traffic.

    • WSB October 26, 2011 (7:58 am)

      No, the train commitment … or “we’ll try” … is only for pm rush hour. Morning, it’s status quo. Same with the low bridge – though we have not seen it open during morning rush hour yet this week (at least not according to the text alerts I subscribe to) … TR

  • Brian October 26, 2011 (7:45 am)

    That is pretty typical for 16th in the morning when SSCC is in session. Crazy I’m more worried about getting hit by a car a block from my house than walking downtown. Maybe time for more traffic soothing devices?

  • westseattletouwandback October 26, 2011 (7:51 am)

    Monday – vanpool to UW & back from Holden area. quick commute!

    Tuesday – water taxi & bus [home to UW], 1.5 hrs in AM & PM commute. water taxi was fine & easy, just uggg on the overall time there & back [which included bussin’ via the 73X]

    Wednesday – [drove, high bridge] left home at 6:30am via Delridge, got to office @ UW, 45 min.

  • ws1 October 26, 2011 (7:55 am)

    Why are all the No Parking signs up around the Water Taxi? Did things get out of control down there!?

    • WSB October 26, 2011 (8:01 am)

      The “No Parking” signs are the ones that have been up all week – we noted on Monday that some might be confused – they ONLY prohibit parking for a few hours in the middle of the night on the water side of the street, so that more spaces would be available for Water Taxi commuters, instead of being taken by overnight residential parkers who wouldn’t be moving their cars till later in the commute. – TR

  • Huindekmi October 26, 2011 (8:03 am)

    Civility did seem to be in shorter supply this morning. On Monday, people were being very courteous and merging well, in almost perfect zipper-like fashion. This morning, I witnessed more people cutting others off and refusing to allow merging. The earlier commute and less sleep might be starting to get to people.
    On the positive side, there were fewer people illegally using the bus lane. I only saw one car pulled over and a number of bored officers when I went by.

  • ws1 October 26, 2011 (8:07 am)

    Co-worker reported heavy police activity on the upper level bridge – busting cheaters in the bus lane.

  • Brian October 26, 2011 (8:07 am)

    I just watched no less than 4 cars head north on 16th Ave SW using the parking strips on both the east and west sides of the street. All in the name of saving 5 mins worth of traffic. This type of behavior should be criminal. You are putting people’s lives at risk.

  • Petert October 26, 2011 (8:16 am)

    The first #37 bus this morning took the 4th Avenue exit to go into downtown, instead of the 1st Avenue exit, at around 5:55am. Don’t know why.

    Still, the commute on the first bus of the day is no different in terms of timing than any other day, i.e. 47 minutes from pickup to drop off for me.

    Catching the early bus is definitely the way to beat this thing.

  • Karen October 26, 2011 (8:18 am)

    Did you see some poor guy got hit by a semi truck? He wa jogging in – the Seattle Times has it.

  • joannbylincolnpark October 26, 2011 (8:19 am)

    The 54 Express leaving Wildwood at 6:45 am has been awesome this week. This is a departure 15 minutes earlier than my usual bus. All three days I have arrived downtown by 7:20 am. Because the bus is able to use the bus lane on the high bridge span with minimum interuption and can also use the far right lane to pass cars blocking the bus lane, the bus has made excellent time in what is reported to be the businest traffic on the high bridge. Just thought you would like to know because there are available seats!

  • TD October 26, 2011 (8:23 am)

    Why is it that West Seattle buses re-routed down 1st and 4th are stopping at all the bus stops? These routes never stopped along 1st or 4th so why should they now? It’s just making for more traffic and a slower commute to downtown.

  • MarshallJAC October 26, 2011 (8:27 am)

    I-5 North is down to one lane at Pine Street as a person jumped from the overpass onto the freeway.

  • Scott October 26, 2011 (8:28 am)

    My office is above I5 at the Convention Center, and whatever the incident is on nb I5 it’s pretty bad. All four lanes are basically blocked and there must be 15 squad cars gone by so far. Can’t see the wreck but I’d avoid it if possible!

  • MaryT October 26, 2011 (8:40 am)

    ws1, if you actually look at those no-parking signs, they specify that it’s only for the wee hours of the morning. They’re specifically there to prevent overnight parking so that there ARE spaces to park for water taxi commuters.

  • alkiguy October 26, 2011 (8:48 am)

    Yeah, I was taking my daughter to school on Cap Hill and arrived at the body about a minute after the Emergency Response Folks arrived… We drove right next to the body with just her (?) face covered. My guess was that this was a suicide. I feel awful for the driver. Is it confirmed as a jumper?

    Sad. Sorry my kid had to see that. I assumed I-5 would back up pretty quickly.

    • WSB October 26, 2011 (8:52 am)

      Alkiguy, the only place I have heard that is here … but as we have noted on WSB before, the veil of silence is thrown over suicide incidents pretty fast by our former colleagues in the old-media world, so that doesn’t surprise me. We have to check with police shortly about something else so will ask. – TR

  • A October 26, 2011 (9:07 am)

    On the way to school this morning I heard about the jumper on the traffic report on the radio. I had to turn the radio off right away once I heard what they were starting to say as my 5 year old listens to EVERYTHING and surely would want to know about it.

    • WSB October 26, 2011 (9:10 am)

      Scanner information indicates that the person who fell/jumped did not survive and was a 30-year-old man.

  • JennyB October 26, 2011 (9:14 am)

    WSB, thank you for the truly fantastic coverage! You are my first source of news.

  • SarahScoot October 26, 2011 (9:15 am)

    Odd headline on KING5.com right now regarding “Viadoom”: “Drivers back to old habits on Wednesday viaduct-less commute.” (http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/Drivers-Wednesday-viaduct-commute-132623403.html)
    Which “old habits,” exactly, the report does not say.
    EDIT: King 5 edited the story in the last few minutes to actually match the headline. :-)

    Also, the NB I-5 backup is merely described as “a collision.” I realize that’s standard in traditional media, but given the info provided here, it reads as very glib.

  • chet October 26, 2011 (9:15 am)


  • george October 26, 2011 (9:24 am)

    Sometimes the “low bridge is faster” doesn’t always take into account the backup to get past the traffic lights. Traffic is moving b/c the lights limit the traffic.

  • Amalia October 26, 2011 (9:28 am)

    The good will was certainly in shorter supply this morning – lots of cars loudly gunning it past (noted from a bike). Just a waste of their own gas.
    Thanks AGAIN to WSDOT and CBC for the station under the bridge! And it is just so great to be sharing the road with all you new cyclists. WELL DONE, all new alternative commuters!

  • Orla October 26, 2011 (9:28 am)

    Do you think the rest of the city is sick of hearing about the W Seattle commute yet:)

    WSB….good job on coverage btw. Kudos also to the water taxi staff….they’ve been great all week.

  • Soosan October 26, 2011 (9:40 am)

    Hi from the 37. We’ve been on 4th Avenue for half an hour; it’s bad today. Hoping to make it to class at UW by 10:30 but not so sure.

  • pickle October 26, 2011 (10:13 am)

    Is the west seattle bridge open. I need to get to queen anne? Or how do I get to I5 north from West Seattle if the bridge is closed

    • WSB October 26, 2011 (10:26 am)

      PIckle, the bridge is NOT closed and has not been closed at any point during all this.

  • coffee October 26, 2011 (10:17 am)

    6th ave was wide open. I jumped over after sitting on 4th for 5 minutes

  • stb October 26, 2011 (10:30 am)

    So, for the return trip tonight–Last night I saw some people on I5 southbound pulling some really stupid moves. Not merely impolite moves. Not merely annoying moves. They were doing YOU WILL GET YOURSELF KILLED moves. Like trying to outrace a bus that was changing lanes. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail tonight & for the duration or WSB will be reporting on a fatality before this is over.

  • george October 26, 2011 (10:39 am)

    I would think Airport Way is a good alternative to downtown also.

  • RobertSeattle October 26, 2011 (10:52 am)


    Shhhhhhhhhhhh. :-)

  • ca October 26, 2011 (12:27 pm)

    yes, i commute daily to ballard from WS my commute is average 2hours going via I5 anyone got tips? the average 4hour commute to and fro driving me crazy! :) and yes, as I sat patiently on bridge at 530am this morning some jerk in a focus thought he was slick to zoom in bus lane and cut all of us patient commuters off…the police got em! HA!

    Also, can’t find any information if young man was a jumper/fall? I only heard 30yrs old…any updates on that tragedy? :(

    Thanks WSB for your awesome updates/reports BTW!

    • WSB October 26, 2011 (12:58 pm)

      I’m not writing a separate story on this because it’s out of our jurisdiction but Highway Patrol has sent a media memo saying he jumped. And as I noted elsewhere, they confirm, 30-year-old man. Apparently from Renton. (Our standard disclaimer: Suicide-prevention counseling is available 24/7 at 206-461-3222) … TR

  • ca October 26, 2011 (1:20 pm)

    ooohhh I didn’t realize that, sorry didn’t mean to step on toes. Sad story to hear. Thanks WSB for reply!

  • Smitty October 26, 2011 (1:21 pm)

    Coming home the 2nd avenue to 4th to Holgate to 14th to 15th to Spokane is still a pretty good bet.

  • MaryCooks October 26, 2011 (1:38 pm)

    Airport Way would be great if I could figure out how to get there. I’ll look at a map tonight.

    Also, I also sometimes shield my kids from news on the radio about suicide but only since their dad died that way last year. I didn’t shield them before that.

  • Jamie Jamison October 26, 2011 (1:44 pm)

    I come in to downtown Seattle from Shorewood on 509 and 1st Avenue South and this morning was the first time that my commute was noticeably slower than it usually is. By 8:45 1st and 4th avenue were both backed up to the overpasses over the rail yard. I ended up getting a cup of coffee and then taking I-5 into town, fortunately I missed the congestion caused by the jumper. I think that tomorrow might be the time to try taking the train in from SeaTac.

  • I Wonder October 26, 2011 (2:52 pm)

    Stay on Spokane past 4th, and the 6th/I-5 upramp. It eventually ends at a T one more block and you go left.
    23rd from Beacon Hill/Rainier Ave was always a good way to backdoor I-90 to the eastside, downtown and UW.
    The West Seattle/Magnolia tunnel is a good shortcut to Ballard.

  • annm October 26, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    I left my house near Holy Rosary at 7:15, and was on the Viaduct via the low bridge and 1st Ave on-ramp at 7:40. I have to say- the signage for the low bridge route is terrible. I made a few wrong turns and almost got in an accident. I find the maze of roads dangerous, and feel for the jogger who got hit by the truck on Monday.

  • ad October 26, 2011 (3:37 pm)

    The man’s suicide has affected many people today. What a awful situation. May he rest in peace…And may those who witnessed also find peace.

  • ca October 27, 2011 (7:00 am)

    thanks ws peeps I will try those tonight/tomorrow, (I never got back on here yesterday) just getting burnt out on this commute. lol. Then I heard on news last night people should get use to this, it will be the “normal” for quite awhile while tearing down rest….eekk

Sorry, comment time is over.