West Seattle traffic-alert update: Southbound 99/Viaduct reopens, 5 1/2 hours after crash

(7:24 PM UPDATE: Southbound 99 has reopened)

(Above, SDOT tweet with traffic-cam screen grab shortly after crash happened)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:16 PM: Southbound 99 is closed most of the way from downtown southward because of a crash that happened south of West Seattle. With commute time approaching, we’ll be tracking this. The crash was at East Marginal/S. Nevada (map); the detours on SB 99 are just north of the southbound Battery Street Tunnel, and again at Atlantic in the stadium zone (for people who get onto 99 from Western). SFD says three people were hurt – one critically, one seriously, one less seriously. More to come.

ADDED 3:33 PM: The southbound alternate routes will be slow going too – here’s the “live” camera looking at 1st Avenue South in SODO:

Here’s a SODO view of 4th Avenue:

3:44 PM: SPD tweets that this will be a factor throughout the evening commute:

Metro says, “Routes 21 Express, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125 and the RapidRide C Line (are) currently rerouted off of the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct and not serving the stop on westbound Columbia St at 2nd Av. Use the temporary stop southbound on 3rd Av just north of Columbia St, until further notice.”

4:39 PM: Check the comments for updates from people on buses, etc. One thing also comes to mind if you are pondering an alternate route – If you can get to Beacon Hill, you can get to the West Seattle Bridge that way, too.

5:19 PM: And of course there’s the West Seattle Water Taxi from Pier 50 downtown. After a question via text (206-293-6302 any time), we asked on Twitter, and the county Transportation Department replied that there’s still plenty of room. Meantime, SPD says the closure could go as late as 7 pm.

5:46 PM: Here’s the closest camera to the crash scene:

Also keep in mind that it’s the Mariners vs. the Yankees at Safeco Field at 7 pm tonight, so the south side of downtown was going to be busy even before all this.

6:34 PM: No update yet – as you can see on the camera just above, the crash scene has not yet been cleared.

7:10 PM: It’s almost ready to reopen, says SDOT:

7:24 PM: The cameras show southbound 99 is open again – here for example is the view from the north end of the remaining elevated Viaduct:

Thanks to everyone for sharing information these past few hours!

121 Replies to "West Seattle traffic-alert update: Southbound 99/Viaduct reopens, 5 1/2 hours after crash"

  • Jenny June 10, 2014 (3:24 pm)

    1st southbound from downtown is super backed up. SAM to Safeco 30 minutes.

  • AmandaKH June 10, 2014 (3:29 pm)

    They are letting WS bound buses onto 99 South however.

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (3:50 pm)

      Thanks, Amanda. That would make sense since unlike private vehicles, buses bound for West Seattle ARE easily identifiable, but Metro claims everything’s being rerouted, so we’re asking.

  • workdowntown June 10, 2014 (3:34 pm)

    Its crazy! Trying to divert all the traffic on southbound 99 to that little road by the stadium. Viaduct at total standstill southbound. And the Yankees in town tonite!

  • Andi June 10, 2014 (3:42 pm)

    Just got on a 21E downtown. Hope it doesn’t take too long. At least I charged my phone at work and bought a snack…

    Thoughts go out to the injured.

  • RedHead June 10, 2014 (3:46 pm)

    Well this could mean I’m grabbing food in the U-District tonight… and heading the long way home.

  • trickycoolj June 10, 2014 (3:56 pm)

    Coming from E Marginal in the south by the not quite open South Park Bridge (darn it can I walk over it?), should I just go around the south side and come up 599 or is NB/1st AVE Bridge not clogged?

    Also a friend who passed the collision at lunch said it was nasty, the cars were completely destroyed.

  • Andi June 10, 2014 (3:57 pm)

    As I said above, I’m on a 21E, and we are currently on 4th near Safeco. Not a standstill, but slow going. I think we’re taking the regular 21 route till WS.

  • Chris Wells June 10, 2014 (3:59 pm)

    On the 120. On First. Stop/go for as far as the eye can see.

  • E June 10, 2014 (4:02 pm)

    I am on Andi’s 21 and we are heading to I-5, but we are moving.

  • Paul June 10, 2014 (4:05 pm)

    I can see SB 99 from my office and haven’t seen any buses on it. Appears to be completely closed south of downtown.

  • Eva June 10, 2014 (4:07 pm)

    I’ve been on the C from 3rd & Pike for over half an hour and we’re in SoDo near Starbucks headquarters…

  • Andi June 10, 2014 (4:13 pm)

    Smart move by our driver to take I-5. On 35th not too terribly behind schedule!

  • HelperMonkey June 10, 2014 (4:14 pm)

    you all know there’s another little bridge that crosses the Duwamish from E Marginal and lets you off in South Park, right? I think it’s on 102nd. Right across from Randy’s. Looks like a parking lot. Is a bridge.

  • Smitty June 10, 2014 (4:15 pm)

    From my vantage point I-5 south is by far the best bet currently. Viaduct, 1st and 4th are jammed.

    If you have a choice, take I-5.

  • Park June 10, 2014 (4:17 pm)

    Can someone explain why ALL of the Viaduct is closed if the accident is located south of the exit to the WS bridge? Thanks

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (4:20 pm)

      Park – Here’s my interpretation – because the only way to detour people off 99 before they get to the crash scene would be to send them off 99 onto the West Seattle Bridge, and since we’re sort of a dead end over here transportation wise, detouring people to WS who were NOT originally WS-bound would make an even worse mess … no simple detour through WS to get to points south.

  • Luke June 10, 2014 (4:17 pm)

    Just got on 21E, and routed down 4th. Moving very quickly so far.

  • Water Taxi June 10, 2014 (4:21 pm)

    Thanks to excellent coverage and reports by WSB, I walked a few extra blocks to catch the water taxi. Thanks for saving me some signicant time, as I normally take the bus from 2nd and Columbia.

  • Sue June 10, 2014 (4:22 pm)

    glad I jumped on a 21 – decided to take a bus that never takes the viaduct so there would be no confusion. Only took 35 min from 3rd/Seneca to 35/Avalon, but I suspect that will increase as the commute continues.

  • KJ June 10, 2014 (4:22 pm)

    I was wondering the exact same thing, Park. East Marginal S. & S. Nevada is well past the exit to the West Seattle Bridge, so I don’t understand why all of southbound 99 needs to be shut down just for this collision.

  • Colleen June 10, 2014 (4:24 pm)

    my C line driver decided to go rouge and take the freeway – 15 mins from 3rd and columbia to first west seattle stop.

  • Kathryn June 10, 2014 (4:24 pm)

    The entrance to the Viaduct at 1st & Columbia is closed – blocked off by 2 police cars. Good luck to everyone getting home tonight!

  • tony June 10, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    This will have added 15 minutes to my commute. On 120 now, just got on West Seattle bridge (4:24). Boarded 3rd/Seneca at 4pm. Not sure what all the fuss is about. Traffic bad? Yes. Insane? Not at all. Just don’t let my wife read this while she’s sitting in it an hour from now…

  • candrewb June 10, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    Apparently closed to WS-bound buses. Good God why? SDOT decision?

  • Beth June 10, 2014 (4:33 pm)

    Thanks for the updates! Unfortunately the C bus I’m on is currently on 4th and it’s a bit slow. Sounds like 5 was the better option.

    My thoughts are with the folks in the accident. Hopefully everyone comes through.

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (4:39 pm)

      CAB, I can’t imagine the logistics of waiting for a bus to come along, knowing which buses are viaduct bound, opening the barricade for a bus, closing it right behind the bus without the next vehicle knowing what’s going on and almost hitting the traffic-directing cops …

  • soosan June 10, 2014 (4:40 pm)

    Southbound 5 is backed up now, too. I made it home to Genesee Hill from Virginia Mason by car in 25 mins. Took 5 south to Airport Way to Lander to 6th to Spokane to low bridge.

  • candrewb June 10, 2014 (4:41 pm)

    I can, just takes creativity.

  • Park June 10, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    Thanks WSB! Water taxi seems like a good option for some folks.

  • Blaughw June 10, 2014 (4:42 pm)

    Just caught the 37 on 2nd, it is being detoured down 4th for anyone Alki bound.

  • Kc June 10, 2014 (4:46 pm)

    45 min north of aurora bridge to QA and mercer traffic is solid I wonder if they will delay the start of the M’s game

  • Kadoo June 10, 2014 (4:46 pm)

    Just got home after 1.25 hr inching along from Magnolia. I should have checked WSB before I left. Cars are overheating and mine nearly did, too. I’m staying home!!

  • Kim June 10, 2014 (4:50 pm)

    Detouring people into West Seattle would not have been that bad, especially for those continuing on to White Center or Burien. SDOT should have left Hwy 99 open to the West Seattle Bridge exit.

  • Kc June 10, 2014 (4:50 pm)

    Traffic is backed up half way up QA hill on the south side

  • SVM June 10, 2014 (5:16 pm)

    Can someone let me know if the water taxi is running to WS? Are the boats pretty packed?

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (5:16 pm)

      Hi – after a text question I just checked and the county says there’s plenty of room, not backed up at this point.

  • RJB June 10, 2014 (5:18 pm)

    Water Taxi is on time…… :)

  • Jca June 10, 2014 (5:21 pm)

    On Water taxi now, (5:15) & a few seats available. Everyone got on.

  • Kc June 10, 2014 (5:21 pm)

    What a great idea!!!!! At least something would be moving

  • Scotter June 10, 2014 (5:22 pm)

    Just got on the water taxi…Pretty full but plenty of room and left on time..not sure we are all going to fit on the little shuttles.

  • West Seattle Hipster June 10, 2014 (5:24 pm)

    Took 4th ave home from downtown, traffic flowed quite well once I got south of Chinatown.

    I think that the city leaders should develop contingency plans for traffic events such as these. For example, have cops direct traffic though major intersections, allowing the north-south traffic to flow better. Also, Metro dispatch could have radioed their drivers and coordinated with SPD to let buses on the viaduct at Columbia.


    Thank God the viaduct “surface option” was never realized. At least not yet.

  • JayDee June 10, 2014 (5:25 pm)

    That was fun: 2nd to Columbia (4ever), (UPS truck cheating in Bus Lane to turn right at Columbia, and then stuck detouring down 1st to Pioneer Square in time for the Ms and Yankees–the largest crowds we get. Good Luck to UPS…)Me 1st NB to Seneca, TL on Second, get by stadia crawl to Lander squirt past 1st, TL on Utah to Lander, TL to 1st Ave turn at break in traffic, and then to West Seattle Bridge…I made it. Now to let the blood pressure drop…

  • JHZ June 10, 2014 (5:26 pm)

    Water taxi line for 545 sailing not too bad. At least until more find out about backup. They even waited a bit late to sail the 515 to get everyone.

  • downtown June 10, 2014 (5:28 pm)

    Anyone know how the water taxi is doing? Long waits?

  • Kyndra June 10, 2014 (5:29 pm)

    50 min from Belltown to Stadiums. The entire city is in gridlock. Pretty pathetic one or two accidents can collapse Seattle’s transportation system.

  • homeward bound June 10, 2014 (5:33 pm)

    the c line was so full it left riders behind at 3rd and Columbia. Made the quick walk to the water taxi, will be home much quicker by water than by land.

  • Chris Launey June 10, 2014 (5:37 pm)

    @WSB – 15th Southbound is backed up from at least magnolia all the way to Elliott and who knows how much farther.

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (5:40 pm)

      Ouch. Will add that to the narrative etc.

  • Western Seattle Matt June 10, 2014 (5:47 pm)

    Left 3rd & Pike on the 116 at 5:01 … arrived at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal at 5:47. Not too bad all things considered.

  • Kc June 10, 2014 (5:47 pm)

    Remember the monorail!!! Get mass transit off and above grid lock

  • Chris June 10, 2014 (5:50 pm)

    5:45 water taxi not too full and just departing.

  • Trevor June 10, 2014 (5:53 pm)

    Don’t know if anyone has asked the question yet, but why not at least keep SB 99 open until Atlantic St? Denny, 1st, and the rest of the core downtown streets are bad enough on a normal day. By having everyone exit at Atlantic they would have a direct shot onto the freeways via 519 or could continue SB via 1st or 4th having bypassed downtown.

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (5:55 pm)

      They did early on (see the top of our story), then by commute time closed everything. P.S. I suspect this will be a topic at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting coming up in 35 minutes – with WSDOT secretary Lynn Peterson the long-scheduled guest – High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way), all welcome if you are back on the peninsula in time!

  • Debbie June 10, 2014 (5:57 pm)

    I am sitting in traffic going north bound on 99 near accident. They just cleared the cars off the road. The cars are totaled – my heart dropped. based on the looks of the cars – I wouldn’t have thought anyone had survived. Really really bad. They are clearing it now. Drive safely everyone!

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (6:07 pm)

      Debbie – one car looks even worse than it originally would have because SFD had to cut the top off to get someone out. Just so you know.

  • Chris W June 10, 2014 (6:08 pm)

    Thanks WSB. I’m chilling in Belltown til traffic starts moving more freely.

  • Intensive Purposes June 10, 2014 (6:10 pm)

    2 hours and 10 minutes from Lower Queen Anne to Upper Fauntleroy.

  • Melissa June 10, 2014 (6:10 pm)

    Anyone have any idea if they are re opening 99 yet?

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (6:12 pm)

      Melissa, we will update here the second there is word it is open again. We’re monitoring SDOT, SPD, scanner, etc. And please note the Marginal/Idaho camera above – when you see traffic going both ways in that view, it means it’s open again.
      Also, to anyone coming in on this belatedly – it’s not that it has taken four hours to clear wreckage from the road. Since one person was critically injured, that means they have to have it investigated by the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad, and that invariably takes several hours, as they take measurements, re-enactments, etc., before everything can be cleared.

  • Debbie June 10, 2014 (6:16 pm)

    Yeah, I wondered that or if it was a convertible. I only got a quick glance. Scary! I’m already home in West Seattle so traffic is opening up. :)

  • WS commuter June 10, 2014 (6:22 pm)

    Hour and a half to get home. Usually a half hour commute.

  • fc June 10, 2014 (6:22 pm)

    Just curious who makes the decision to close 99 My husband has been in traffic since 4 coming southbound from 99, and is still in downtown traffic. This makes no sense. God help us if anything major happens.

  • Jtreehorn June 10, 2014 (6:24 pm)

    As somebody who moved to WS two weeks ago, mama told me there would be days like this.

  • Zoom June 10, 2014 (6:34 pm)

    Is the South Park Bridge open?

  • Wundrgrrrl June 10, 2014 (6:35 pm)

    An hour and fifteen from 1st & Broad to Stewart… Time for a shopping break! I’ll try again when it reopens

  • Update? June 10, 2014 (7:01 pm)

    Hey there. Any updates on traffic conditions? It doesn’t look like 99 has been opened yet and the traffic maps still look all red, but – visually – Broad St/Alaskan Way/parts of Elliott I can see look to be clearing up. Wondering if I should give it a shot.

  • smitty June 10, 2014 (7:04 pm)

    I can’t wait to hear how on earth this accident took four hours(and counting ) to clear?


  • Marianne June 10, 2014 (7:05 pm)

    And now the 1st Ave S bridge is up.

  • Kal June 10, 2014 (7:06 pm)

    Missed my 6:50 flight ; left Queen Anne at 4:00 pm tried to go 99 – impossible. 2 hours later turned around and now returned to Queen Anne. What a bummer

  • Daniel June 10, 2014 (7:09 pm)

    1.5 hours just to get 10 blocks south on Elliott ave. Since at that rate there was no hope of getting home soon, decided to park on side of road and wait for 99 on ramp to open. Hopefully a very quick commute when it does!

  • West Seattle Bound June 10, 2014 (7:15 pm)

    99 south is still closed, and downtown is still a gridlock!

  • JoB June 10, 2014 (7:17 pm)

    this must be the mess i got stuck in on 1st a little after 3.. took an hour to get home.
    husband is still at the office in Fremont.. he will wait for the traffic to clear.

  • Daniel June 10, 2014 (7:21 pm)

    99 open!

  • Lindsey June 10, 2014 (7:29 pm)

    Left Interbay at 5 pm and have tried taking Alaskan Way/Waterfront to West Seattle. 2.5 hours later I’ve only made it to the water taxi dock on the downtown side. Horrible.

  • Kylie June 10, 2014 (7:36 pm)

    Not sure off viaduct is open or not, but 6th is completely clear to go south then go across the bridge!

  • JanS June 10, 2014 (7:43 pm)

    jtreehorn……welcome to West Seattle…you’ve now been baptised :D

  • Lisa June 10, 2014 (7:44 pm)

    Who were those doofuses who kept Seattle for building a subway system like NYC way-back-when? This evening, between 4:20-6:45PM I made it approx 1 mile before I was stuck in gridlock for 2+hrs on Denny Eastbound near the Space Needle. When I had the chance I ditched the car in a parking spot and walked back to work. Lower Queen Anne was locked up all the way back to Elliott. Hoo ra.

  • Meta June 10, 2014 (8:00 pm)

    Not to downplay the serious accident today, but imagine if today would have been a major earthquake. If the transportation infrastructure was severely damaged indefinitely, and we all needed to get to West Seattle via (possibly damaged) streets in SODO and the (probably damaged) West Seattle Bridge. With injuries likely, paramedics would be rushing around, and the general population might be chaotic. What do you think would happen? It’s really scary to think about. I don’t know that there’s anything that can be done though.

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (8:05 pm)

      Meta – I’ve been here at the WSTC meeting with WSDOT’s boss and the AWV/99 project boss and they say there are plans that would kick in fast. WSTC asked them if they could share toplines of those plans so we all had an idea. They’ll be following up and so will we.

  • paul June 10, 2014 (8:06 pm)

    Still complete gridlock in Lower QA in all directions…5 hours after the accident and an hour after the viaduct reopened.

    • WSB June 10, 2014 (8:13 pm)

      Maybe the new Denny/Mercer/etc. mess plays into that? Honestly, I think it’s time for those jetpacks we were all promised …

  • rob June 10, 2014 (8:16 pm)

    What a bunch of whiny brats here. Had to sit in traffic or had to wait this long our was late somewhere or how this might efect getting to the M’s game. But does anybody care about the people that were badly hurt in this crash or what there families are going through. So what you did not get home in time to watch judge judy but a couple of people won’t be home at all tonight. This could have been you

  • Joan June 10, 2014 (8:22 pm)

    3 3/4 hours from top of Queen Anne to Westwood. New record. And it’s not even snowing.

  • Andi June 10, 2014 (8:26 pm)

    I dunno if I trust Seattle drivers with a couple more axies to terrorize! Gravity is a harsh mistress, especially with texting and passive aggressiveness in the mix.

  • JH June 10, 2014 (8:36 pm)

    I left downtown at 3:30PM (already heard about the viaduct). I went down 5th Ave., got in Airport Way South to Lander, went to 4th, went south on 4th, then got onto 1st and into WS. Piece of cake! That was a great way to avoid traffic.

  • SJ2 June 10, 2014 (8:41 pm)

    Thank you WSB for reporting this right away. As a result, I left work in Fremont at 4:20 via i5 (I usually take 99) and was back in West Seattle by 5:45, in time to pick my son up from daycare. Thank you!!

  • Beth June 10, 2014 (8:41 pm)

    Does Metro ever officially route buses onto the “Sodo Busway” during these traffic jams?

  • Greta June 10, 2014 (9:09 pm)

    Rob – so it’s not possible for us to be frustrated with unacceptable closures and traffic while simultaneously being sympathetic to the victims of the car crash? Because I was both.

  • East Coast Cynic June 10, 2014 (9:12 pm)

    @Lisa, it was King County Citizen doofuses who voted down Forward Thrust in the late 60’s which would have started a rapid transit system–or rather more specifically, didn’t provide the 60% vote it needed to pass.

    Seattle’s mayor at the time, and soothsayer extraordinaire, Dorm Braman said the rejection of Forward Thrust would have “tragic results”.

  • LeahP June 10, 2014 (9:21 pm)

    Learned a new “secret back route” today! Only 15 mins from Stadiums to Delridge. And there was NO traffic! Just West of Great Floors, went on the brand new Colorado St overpass, which put me onto E Marginal Way, paralleled 99 all the way to the Low Bridge, over the low bridge zipped onto Deridge. Voila!

  • Linda June 10, 2014 (9:33 pm)

    So I left around 6:30 ish..went down 2nd from Union..it was fine..turned right onto Columbia and there was the block to the viaduct…witness SPD sitting on their car NOT directing traffic or directing pedistrians … SPD could have done a better job at directing traffic…but they did nothing….heck even I know how to direct traffic from my girl scout days…I finally made it through the 2nd ave mess to WS…took me an hour…

  • Doug June 10, 2014 (10:14 pm)

    It is frightening to see how one single wreck at a minor intersection could paralyze the entire city. SDOT, WSDOT, SPD and City Hall should be ashamed of how this was handled. A failure is so many ways.

  • alki warrior June 10, 2014 (11:04 pm)

    Its fun living in the city eh?

  • sophista-tiki June 11, 2014 (1:03 am)

    well this explains why it was so nice and quiet around here this afternoon. The guy complaining about whiny brats stuck in traffic apparently did not actually READ the article that says NO ONE DIED. so yea they will be home eventually. FYI not everyone is in a big hurry to watch Judge Judy ( is that show even still on and who the hell even watches basic cable anymore). Perhaps kids were standing around for 5 hours waiting to be picked up, or pets trapped in the house who had to pee, or if you are anything like me you’re just frickin trying to get from job A to Job B to Job C without being late enough to get fired. The POINT IS Traffic in Seattle is completely screwed and the more they play at fixing it the worse it gets. An accident should not cripple the entire city for 5 + hours.

  • flimflam June 11, 2014 (6:14 am)

    yeah, it was insane yesterday. with all sympathies to the crash victims there must be a better way to handle a situation like this.

    what would that be? of course I don’t know the exact logistics, but there has to be a better way besides just shutting down a major arterial before, during, after rush hour.

    someone else mentioned – whatever happened to the cops directing traffic and, uh, being helpful during traffic snarls?

  • Kc June 11, 2014 (6:21 am)

    I left the north end of the aurora bridge at 4pm and the bridge was backed up then. went west though queen anne and down 1st ave to meet up with friends at the M’s game… 4hrs plus

    Here is a thought: they could have left 99 open, detoured everyone at the West Seattle bridge to the high rise or onto harbor island then to West Marginal Way, Delridge, 35th. That would have kept something Moving and would not have affected the accident investigation.

    The was some solace in the fact that the person that normally would cut you off just to get ahead of you was not going anywhere either.

    Here is to a better day Wednesday!

  • Mike June 11, 2014 (6:30 am)

    “This could have been you”
    Rob, don’t confuse SPD’s lack of ability to direct traffic and clear a “minor” accident with people not caring. The fact is that SPD is an epic train wreck when it comes to these small traffic accidents. I call it small since nobody died. Only when people die do they shut off roads to fully investigate and charge with vehicular homicide and such. Accidents are bad, people are hurt, it’s not good, nobody is saying they don’t feel bad people are hurt. The fact is that somebody else was not able to get to the hospital due to this, somebody else could/might have died waiting in traffic to get to the hospital. What about the pregnant woman trying to get to the hospital during this mess, do you care that they might have had complications and could die on the way waiting in traffic? Seriously Rob, there are many reasons this backup is bad, not just people wanting to get home or to an m’s game.
    Myself, we were about 30 minutes later than normal . I suggest everyone gets an Android phone and uses Google’s traffic alerts and traffic flow info to avoid the really bad areas. I’m still amazed that SPD closed off an entire city core section of one of the biggest roads in the city for a minor accident during the peak traffic hours of the day. Somebody needs to have a job review today, not fit for the job I’d say.

  • PDieter June 11, 2014 (7:15 am)

    “Park – Here’s my interpretation – because the only way to detour people off 99 before they get to the crash scene would be to send them off 99 onto the West Seattle Bridge, …” WSB

    Is it time to do a feature story on the Duwamish swing bridge TR? Yes the viaduct would still jam up but that would have taken a lot of load off downtown surface streets. I hit the streets at the worst time leaving Ballard at 4:40 and 1-1/2 hrs later parked near broad and Elliott and had dinner on the waterfront to wait it out. Not the end of the world but someone screwed the pooch on this one by closing the whole viaduct down.

    Edit; I’m now told. That there was another accident in the tunnel after the first one at idaho….so maybe more to the story.

    • WSB June 11, 2014 (7:36 am)

      No tunnel crash that I know of. This was strictly about the East Marginal/Idaho crash (which was NOT “minor” = as explained multiple times earlier, one of the three victims was transported in critical condition, and that makes it a major crash; one person, don’t know if it was the same one, was cut out of the wreckage). I am working to find out who made the call regarding shutting 99 even before the bridge, and who is accountable for making such calls.

  • sam-c June 11, 2014 (7:58 am)

    from what I see in the article, this appears to be a single car crash, is that correct, or were there multiple vehicles involved?
    (I am not familiar with SPD’s methods, but I guess I am just curious why there would be the full-on, ‘close the road’ type investigation if there was only one car, one driver. Does the purpose of the investigation go beyond ‘whose fault was it?’) nevermind, I can’t tell from the article how many cars were involved.

    • WSB June 11, 2014 (8:09 am)

      To correct and answer a few comments: This was NOT a “minor” crash. Two vehicles. Extrication. “Heavy rescue.” Unfortunately there wasn’t much coverage until the traffic problem became apparent, and because of the closures and the area where it happened, getting there to get photos would have been a time suck for those of us without helicopters. (It is not in our regular coverage area, although based on this, we are going to pay closer attention to East Marginal in the future!) I have found one photo:
      Again, the driver of one car had to be cut out by SFD. That is not a quick process. That person was in critical condition. When someone is critically injured or killed, that makes it a major investigation. The Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is called out. Their work, as mentioned here on WSB dozens of times in our almost seven years of operation as a news site, takes hours – they measure, they re-enact, they collect evidence. TCIS is explained on the SPD site as follows: http://www.seattle.gov/police/traffic/TCIS.htm
      Last TCIS case in the West Seattle area was the hit-run driver/bicyclist crash a few weeks ago by the east side of the low bridge. As noted in our report, that area was closed for more than four hours: https://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/traffic-alert-crash-investigation-at-east-end-of-low-bridge – The difference, of course, is, that was late at night, so relatively few noticed/were affected, and no outcry ensued.
      Back to yesterday’s crash: Two other people were hurt, reported as serious condition and “stable” condition by SFD via Twitter at the time. Note that this section of East Marginal has no outlets. https://goo.gl/maps/SwdME
      I am following up to see who is accountable for making decisions such as “OK, let’s close 99 all the way back to downtown” and will report back separately when we get that information.

  • Sue June 11, 2014 (8:15 am)

    I am sorry that people were injured, and I totally respect the need to investigate. but there HAS to be a better way than closing entire major roadways for an entire rush hour. I’m grateful I saw WSB’s note about this and left 45 min early (since I had an appt I could not miss). My normal 20 minute bus ride took 35 – not a big deal. but had I left 45 min later (normal time) it would’ve been very different. I am truly fearful of what will happen around here traffic-wise if we have a major catastrophe.

  • Les June 11, 2014 (8:51 am)

    There is no question in my mind that SDOT didn’t handle this properly .I am very thankful that the new 99 tunnel hasn’t been built or I would have been trapped underground for a very long time!

  • Robert June 11, 2014 (8:55 am)

    Five and half hours, Really? Does the data get better for TCIS with time? Can video cameras help? It was truly a horrible commute day in Seattle, we can do better than this.

  • Shannon June 11, 2014 (9:05 am)

    Hope it will not take me two and a half hours to get out of Seattle tonight… I have never seen the entire city so gridlocked, all the way up until the U District, for so long. (Left Belltown at 5 PM and made it back to Seatac at 7:30)

  • sam-c June 11, 2014 (9:12 am)

    I didn’t say it was a minor crash, I just asked how many vehicles were involved cause I couldn’t tell. obviously my- “does a single car accident still require the full investigation?” question doesn’t apply now that I found out it was 2 cars. ‘collision,’ ‘incident,’ ‘3 people injured’ could imply 1 car….. ie a car colliding with a light pole. from the info in the article, it could have been 1, 2, or 3 cars, even.

    the extrication photos i saw yesterday made it clear it wasn’t minor. but I only saw the white car that had been cut open.

    but hey, thanks for answering my question. I hope all involved pull through and recover.

    • WSB June 11, 2014 (9:23 am)

      Somebody else upthread called it a minor crash.
      So far here’s where we stand on the followup:
      SDOT tells me it was an SPD decision.
      I have subsequently asked SPD who made the decision and why.
      Updates to come!

  • hey June 11, 2014 (9:42 am)

    I really don’t understand why authorities didn’t allow traffic to proceed on viaduct to West Seattle Bridge with a flashing sign before Stadium exit stating “Accident Ahead, SB 99 Closed after West Seattle Bridge exit”. Doesn’t that make sense? It seems totally insane to close SB 99 when bridge access (and Harbor Island etc) is open.

  • sam-c June 11, 2014 (10:32 am)

    oh, you had clarified it wasn’t ‘minor’ right before my comment so i thought reiterating that was directed at me. thanks for keeping track of these things.
    the scenario that ‘hey’ presents seems very do-able. there is that exit in sodo

  • wetone June 11, 2014 (10:46 am)

    Hope all involved are going to be ok. But this brings up many questions and shows what traffic would be like if we had gone to surface street only configuration as many city people and others wanted to do. Then you add more trains soon to be going through the city which will only make things worse. City really needs to reorganize many departments and get some good hands on experienced help, as what is going on is not working so many areas.

  • Diane June 11, 2014 (1:11 pm)

    I couldn’t post any comments to this story last night, from downtown; I had an event in Belltown starting at 5, and pulled up wsblog just before heading out to the bus; hoping northbound traffic wasn’t severely impacted, I went for it; started out excellent; RR-C arrived quickly, and the drive to downtown was super fast; then we got to the downtown core, 3rd/Pine, where the bus was loaded to SRO capacity, and by the time we got to north bound 3rd & Virginia, EVERYTHING was total parking lot, at a standstill; we were stuck at 3rd/Virginia for 20 mins; I could barely see out windows, south bound buses all stuck behind cars that could not escape; each signal change, one car turned right and one car turned left; our NB lane had a line-up of buses as far as you could see, at least 15, just stuck; fortunately my event was at 3rd/Bell, for couple hours; thought for sure it would all be cleared up and normal by 7:30pm; nope; waited an hour for RR-C south bound at 3rd/Virginia; thankfully it’s easy to get a seat at that stop, before it loads to SRO capacity at Pike
    what I learned while waiting at the bus stop and from riders on the bus, THIS significantly impacted 1000’s of folks who have no other option but the bus to get to/from their jobs; the woman at my bus stop: she works at a hotel in lower QA and it took 2 hours to get to Belltown, to catch her 2nd bus home to Burien; we waited together nearly an hour; then her ride home is typically an hour; meantime she has 2 kids in daycare; that’s at least 3 ½ hrs for her to get home to her kids by about 9pm
    when I got on the bus, all I said was “Rapid Ride” and everyone started laughing and telling their stories; one woman in a leg cast had been on this bus for 2 ½ hours, from lower QA; that’s about a mile away; she did not have the option to get out and walk, like apparently most of the bus had done (it was nearly empty; maybe about 20 riders left)
    something is really really really flawed in our transportation planning if a single (albeit horrible deadly) traffic incident 5+ miles south of downtown can completely gridlock the north end of downtown, for 5 hours
    when this happens, the greatest hardship is to the low income workers who have no other option but the bus; and they can’t afford to live downtown because the rents are so damn high; they can’t just hop in their car and search for alternate escape routes; and many of these hard working people have children waiting for them; we desperately need better solutions

    • WSB June 11, 2014 (1:37 pm)

      I have now talked to just about everyone I can talk to and our followup story will be up later this afternoon.

  • KT June 11, 2014 (2:04 pm)

    So the first SDOT tweet was at 1:55pm and the road was reopened between 7:00pm and 7:30pm. This follows a pretty typical pattern with SPD. They do not look at the big picture and they care not about traffic management. All they care about is the particular accident right in front of them that they are investigating. They have shown it before and nothing changes. I doubt it ever will. It is a pretty common thing around here though that no one seems to think that traffic management is part of their job description, whether it be accident investigation or road repair/constuction. Remember not so long ago that a stalled car on the N/B side as you got onto the elevated portion of the roadway closed down morning commutes? What did it take that morning? Better than 45 minutes for SPD response? Heck, they had a hard time even getting the police unit and tow truck out there because of the extreme congestion. I seriously wonder if the staffing patterns of SPD allow them to deploy what is needed to manage the traffic or if all they can do is shut down a road. You get whatever resources are needed out there to complete this investigation and get the city moving. Looking forward to WSB follow-up report.

    As an aside, will this kind of congestion be the norm when the viaduct is part of history?

    • WSB June 11, 2014 (3:45 pm)

      Sorry, I had to take a lunch break or else ours would have been up half an hour sooner. Up now.

  • Nancy kiefer June 11, 2014 (8:56 pm)

    Why did the sign say the Battery Tunnel was closed today, Wednesday June 11th? I saw it at 5:20 PM near N 45th exit SB and turned around in order to avoiid another mess like yesterday. Any ideas?

  • bus rider June 12, 2014 (1:10 pm)

    I have to travel 5 days a week from Auburn to Shoreline. I take Bus and Sounder Train. Safeco field Mariner’s Game attracks sooo much traffic it makes commuter like me life misserable. Game should not be in weekdays. Even I do not get the last sounder train which is in 6.12 PM after starting at 5PM from shoreline.

Sorry, comment time is over.