UPDATE: Southbound 99 reopens after 9-hour closure caused by overturned semitruck full of salmon


2:39 PM: All lanes of southbound Highway 99 are blocked by an overturned semi-truck in the stadium zone. More to come.

2:55 PM: The southbound Viaduct is now closed at the north end of the Battery Street Tunnel, so if you are headed that way from north of downtown, you’ll have to exit on Denny Way. Otherwise, to head south from downtown, you’ll need to take I-5 or surface streets such as 1st or 4th. We’ll keep updating this since we’re heading into the pm commute.

3:14 PM: This is affecting buses too:

3:22 PM: For those stuck on the Viaduct when this happened, here’s what’s being done:

We have another view of that courtesy of Chi Krneta:

3:43 PM: Still closed. And southbound I-5, we’re told, has a stall on the south side of downtown. Another alternative for getting back to West Seattle: The Water Taxi. Its afternoon schedule is just now starting up:

Here’s the schedule. Meantime:

And a view texted to us:

We’re still trying to find out if there’s any ETA for this being cleared. For now, just assume it’ll be hours, and plot your homeward alternative (or don’t leave until you hear it’s clear).

4:07 PM: SPD says a tow truck’s on the case – but that still doesn’t mean it’ll clear fast:

4:19 PM: Keep in mind that there’s a domino/spillover effect in many other places. For example, if you click around on the live video cameras in the general downtown area accessible via the SDOT Travelers’ Map (lower right) – you’ll see scenes such as vehicles STILL clearing off the Viaduct backward – right now at the Columbia onramp, a bus can be seen backing toward 1st, and someone is directing traffic. Also, via Twitter, SDOT says they’re hoping to have at least one lane open within a half-hour or so.

5:40 PM: SPD now says two tow trucks are on scene.

5:45 PM: And the problem has finally been explained – “a very large load of fish” is what the semi was carrying.

6:11 PM: The Sounders FC/Club Tijuana match has been pushed back to 7:23 pm. And SPD has an update on the semitruck’s driver:

6:33 PM: Latest tweet from the scene – “Responders have separated the tractor from the overturned trailer and are attempting to put the trailer back on its wheels again now.”

6:57 PM: Making progress:

7:12 PM: After 4 1/2 hours, the truck is right-side up again:

7:47 PM: Now they’re moving on to cleanup.

8:19 PM: And that’s not so easy, tweets SDOT: “Trailer contents have shifted, making it unstable to transport. They will detach trailer from truck and pull it off roadway.”

9:30 PM: Now going on 7 hours since this happened. The trailer has to be unloaded before it can be moved. We asked via Twitter, just out of curiosity, what kind of fish? Answer: Salmon.

10:05 PM: Still closed while crews work with the trailer.

10:47 PM: According to discussion just monitored via scanner, the problem is that the trailer remains unstable. It’s about a third empty now and they might try to move it again once it’s half empty. We are now in hour 9 of the total southbound 99 closure from the Battery St. Tunnel southward.

11:34 PM: They’re about to start reopening southbound 99, now that the truck and trailer have been moved successfully. They’re reopening starting at Denny, and then from Columbia.

11:40 PM: Official confirmation, 9 hours after the closure began:

That’s almost twice as long as the much-dissected 5-hour closure in June of last year following a head-on crash south of the West Seattle Bridge. Different circumstances here – no life-threatening injuries, but the wreckage posed a major challenge to clear. Some of what was promised in reports following the June incident (most notably this one) has been implemented, notably longer coverage hours in the city’s Traffic Management Center. We’ll be following up on this tomorrow, and certainly we won’t be the only ones.

11:16 AM WEDNESDAY: We did indeed inquire with SPD this morning. No direct response but they’ve published a long report on SPD Blotter which includes photos and tweets from yesterday (some of which we featured in real-time in this report) – we’re writing a separate story on this.

141 Replies to "UPDATE: Southbound 99 reopens after 9-hour closure caused by overturned semitruck full of salmon"

  • Eric1 March 24, 2015 (2:44 pm)

    Oh that’s going to bite me on my my commute home.

    • WSB March 24, 2015 (2:58 pm)

      A lot of people. So we’ll be all over it until it’s cleared.

  • schwaggy March 24, 2015 (2:51 pm)

    This is going to be a fun day! “all units be aware, the Southbound Viaduct will not be open for several hours”

  • Joe Szilagyi March 24, 2015 (2:51 pm)

    If only we had a grade separated rail line.

  • Lauren March 24, 2015 (2:55 pm)

    The southbound viaduct entrance downtown is closed and has cars coming off the viaduct from the wrong direction. Police are directing traffic. I would avoid downtown.

  • Lauren March 24, 2015 (2:56 pm)

    People are abandoning their cars and walking off the viaduct

  • Joe Szilagyi March 24, 2015 (2:57 pm)

    Marginal/Chelan is already DOA it looks like: http://www.seattle.gov/trafficcams/Marginal_Chelan.htm

  • Helen Johnson March 24, 2015 (2:57 pm)

    This is right by where I work–I got a similar shot from the roof of my building. Between this and the fact that it’s raining out, this commute will not be fun.

  • AmandaKH March 24, 2015 (2:59 pm)

    SDOT and SPD are supposed to have Incident Protocols in place. How is traffic being managed around the City right now? Can anyone chime in?

  • Mark March 24, 2015 (3:01 pm)

    Stuck on a rapid ride C line – no movement for 30 minutes

  • West Seattle since 1979 March 24, 2015 (3:06 pm)

    They must be letting people get off the viaduct by going northbound in the southbound lane? I can see the viaduct from my window in Pioneer Square, and cars on the lower level are heading north.

  • Dustin March 24, 2015 (3:14 pm)

    Lower bridge sort of afternoon I suppose. Drive safe out there and reduce the impact on the rescue teams.

  • Sunrise Heights March 24, 2015 (3:16 pm)

    Based on the view from my office, looks like they are turning cars around on SB back toward the Columbia Street entrance.

  • Watchdog March 24, 2015 (3:25 pm)

    I just got stuck in this at 2 o’clock when I left work. The situation is that they are reversing all traffic from the southbound lane and having everyone get off at the Columbia on ramp. It’s going to take a while to clear out, and is quite a mess.

  • Meredith March 24, 2015 (3:29 pm)

    We downtown worker bee folks should self-organize and walk home from work – it could be like a roving pub crawl, and I bet it would be faster. Belltown to Arbor Heights is…10 miles, so probably would take what, 2.5 hours? Who’s up for a walk?

  • Sue March 24, 2015 (3:29 pm)

    I have never been more glad to be home sick today.

  • Heather March 24, 2015 (3:30 pm)

    My bus (56) took I5 back to West Seattle. We are only about 10 mins behind schedule.

  • Smitty March 24, 2015 (3:31 pm)

    Now, everyone just imagine this happening in a tunnel.

    Fun times ahead!

    Stay stuck Bertha!

  • wsliz March 24, 2015 (3:33 pm)

    I5 S also has a stalled pickup right in the middle lane. It’s about 500 ft before everyone merges on from I90. Must not have been there long but it is already starting to back up the one lane pretty good.

  • JO March 24, 2015 (3:36 pm)

    Take the water taxi home to West Seattle today.

  • Colleen March 24, 2015 (3:44 pm)

    There’s a C line that just passed me on 4th so the metro reroute seems to be drivers choice

  • workdowntow March 24, 2015 (3:55 pm)

    Don’t forget there is a Sounders game tonite!

  • East Coast Cynic March 24, 2015 (4:11 pm)

    The Water Taxi deboards too far away from home for some West Seattlites to use. Hopefully buses will make use of 4th Ave S & 1st Ave S ramp to the WSB.

    Looks like the ghost of Forward Thrust asserting itself.

  • alki resident March 24, 2015 (4:13 pm)

    This is exactly what Ive asked folks regarding the tunnel. What happens if an accident like this occurs? Were all screwed. I got home just in time before this mess happened. I feel so sorry for everyone stuck.

  • JayDee March 24, 2015 (4:16 pm)

    Took light rail to SODO, to the 50, and now my fingers are crossed waiting for 1st Ave south…

  • OP March 24, 2015 (4:16 pm)

    Why on earth does it take an hour and a half for a tow truck to arrive. That’s absurd.

  • DarkHawke March 24, 2015 (4:17 pm)

    @Smitty: that was my first though as well, then I remembered that semis CAN’T fit into Big Dig 2, presuming it ever opens.

    @Joe Szilagyi: make that a grade separated MONORAIL line. Given the fault-ridden nature of our local geology, I’ve always considered this local passion for burying road- and rail-ways the height of insanity. I’d rather not get buried or drowned AND buried just for a “faster” way home.

  • Deb Barker March 24, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    I was at Pill Hill and found all SB routes backed up, so I opted to get to West Seattle using 23rd Ave. South, then College to 15th Ave South, then Spokane St. to the WS Bridge. While it was out of the way, traffic kept moving and the blooming trees are spectacular.

  • Jennhx March 24, 2015 (4:25 pm)

    Metro is saying “Significant delays in service are likely to last well into the evening commute.” Also, it says the C line is running but “Use the stop on 3rd Av just south of Columbia St. No other stops are missed.” I assume they are rerouting via 4th Ave.

  • JanS March 24, 2015 (4:26 pm)

    @ Meredith re: pub crawl…if you actually stop at pubs along the way, may be a much longer trip – lol..

    anyone taking bets that speed was involved?

  • JanS March 24, 2015 (4:26 pm)

    Dear OP…the tow truck has to battle the standstill like everyone else. They don’t just drop out of the sky…

  • West Seattle since 1979 March 24, 2015 (4:30 pm)

    Aren’t there buses that meet the Water Taxi and go to the Alaska Junction and other places, or do those stop at a certain time?

  • Nora March 24, 2015 (4:33 pm)

    This happened an hour before I left work at Pier 69. Thank God my boyfriend asked me to dinner at his place tonight. He lives just up the hill from work, and I have a key. I have a new hero. Sorry, Dad.

  • jtm March 24, 2015 (4:34 pm)

    FYI, I work on Lower Queen Anne and traffic is backed up on all of the surface streets here…

  • jtm March 24, 2015 (4:36 pm)

    Also, I’m guessing the truck was driving too fast around that corner, like most of them do.

  • schwaggy March 24, 2015 (4:37 pm)

    I’ll just put this out here…
    I was listening to the scanner from the very beginning of this incident.
    It took 30 minutes for the Police to determine they needed to close the entrances to SB99 from Battery and Columbia. By then of course it didn’t matter. It was a parking lot up there.

    30 minutes to make that call for a major incident on the Viaduct.
    Rolled Semi.
    30 minutes.

    How’s that for Incident Protocol?

  • TW March 24, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    I don’t get the doom and gloom on “what if this happened in a tunnel?” It’s not like people are able to pull out and around it on the viaduct, either. Seems like po-TAY-to – po-TAH-to to me.

  • flimflam March 24, 2015 (4:39 pm)

    rough commute for many, sorry folks.

    curious, how a semi could tip completely over at that spot?

  • onion March 24, 2015 (4:40 pm)

    I wonder if the water taxi folks could switch to an on-demand schedule to accommodate the additional traffic? Mrs. Onion is heading over there to the downtown dock right now and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she makes it onto the 5:15 sailing.

  • schwaggy March 24, 2015 (4:41 pm)

    “Dear OP…the tow truck has to battle the standstill like everyone else. They don’t just drop out of the sky…”

    No but… They could get on the Viaduct from all points South heading North toward the scene. You know, like the emergency responders did. There’s no traffic on the downstream side of a blocking incident.

    Think Out of The Box is all we’re asking the City.
    They just don’t seem to “get” this corridor.

  • Jennhx March 24, 2015 (4:43 pm)

    @West Seattle since 1979, Yes there are shuttles but they do not run everywhere in West Seattle (for example, they do not go further south than the Alaska Junction other than a couple runs late morning). Here is a route map:

  • EmmyJane March 24, 2015 (4:45 pm)

    I overlook the viaduct downtown. As of 4:45, traffic still isn’t open on SB 99 and 1st is very badly backed up past the market. Stay off the roads folks.

  • Marge Evans March 24, 2015 (5:03 pm)

    it is after 5 I am waiting for the
    water taxi. still no vehicles SB on 99

  • EmmyJane March 24, 2015 (5:05 pm)

    5:05 and still no traffic on the viaduct. 1st still very bad.

  • Nancy March 24, 2015 (5:16 pm)

    Traffic on 15th heading downtown is backed up starting at the Ballard Bridge. I thought I was being sneaky smart trying to avoid Fremont in my effort to get to Queen Anne from Wallingford. Thought the extra drive to 15th ave would be worth it. Instead I was afforded time to sit and stare at the median. This city cannot function if we lose access to one thoroughfare. That’s scary with Amazon and Facebook planning to attract between 4-6k new employees to our downtown/slu area.

  • LoveWSDOT March 24, 2015 (5:16 pm)

    Where are the highway 99 webcams?

    WSDOT can you provide a link to the 99 webcams so we can see the progress.. please.

  • KatherineL March 24, 2015 (5:27 pm)

    Seems like we’re having an awful lot more big trucks overturning lately. Is this because we have an awful lot more big trucks on the road, or are they hiring less qualified drivers?

  • Eric1 March 24, 2015 (5:29 pm)

    Left work a little early and got on a 21X. Somewhat smooth sailing if you ask me. Kept on 3rd and then got on I-5 back to West Seattle over the Spokane Street viaduct.
    The downtown bus stops did look busier than normal. I am assuming not all the buses are getting to the stops on time. But once you get a bus, it seemed OK south of downtown.

  • Lacey March 24, 2015 (5:30 pm)

    Been sitting on the c route since 4:15, it redirected and is now by the stadiums. This is the worst traffic in a long time! It only takes 40 minutes or so to bike, I may just go back to doing that!

  • Neighbor March 24, 2015 (5:31 pm)

    “Now imagine this in a tunnel!” Come on; there are tunnels all over the world. Accidents happen in them. They get cleared. Odds are that the new tunnel will be much safer from a traffic-design standpoint than the viaduct/99 with its blind on-ramps, short merges, and constantly changing curves in the construction zone.

  • seaviewer March 24, 2015 (5:32 pm)

    It’s a shame they couldn’t just utilize all of that heavy equipment down there and just drag that thing into the yard. The tunnel construction yard is right there.

    And shame on that driver. I wonder how fast he/she tried to take that chicane.

  • Blaughw March 24, 2015 (5:35 pm)

    Water taxi riders can catch route 37 along Alki, it will eventually get to the junction after going down most of beach drive. There is a 770 shuttle as well that leaves from the dock and makes rounds. The 37 only runs every 30 min, and it only runs 4 times per day, so check schedules!

    I am not very familiar with the 770 route, but I would assume it coordinates with the water taxi.

  • Paul March 24, 2015 (5:39 pm)

    Wow, what a crazy mess! A transportation system is no good when the unexpected happens and all hell breaks loose. The average daily commute into and out of Seattle has become so much worse in recent years, so the current infrastructure basically doesn’t work well under normal circumstances. Then, any random major event happens and it shuts everything down. A snowstorm, a big wreck, a protest, any can make your commute last until bedtime. This city should be making this issue a quick priority!

  • Jb March 24, 2015 (5:40 pm)

    Got home just fine on my bike.

  • jtm March 24, 2015 (5:43 pm)

    For the love of all things holy, how has this still not been cleared in 3 HOURS?

  • raybro March 24, 2015 (5:48 pm)

    How is traffic being managed around the City right now? Can anyone chime in?

    Comment by AmandaKH

    There is minimal traffic being managed in this current situation. As usual.

  • Born on Alki 59 March 24, 2015 (5:49 pm)

    Chances are that old Freightliner and port trailer has marginal tires, questionable brakes and an inexperienced driver hauling his or her load just a little too fast for conditions. Surprised this doesn’t happen more often. Most of those can hauler rigs are in horrible condition. For your own safety, Steer clear of these old heaps.

  • Michelle March 24, 2015 (5:49 pm)

    Took 90 minutes to commute from Belltown to WS on the city streets. It’s turned downtown into a parking lot.

  • Azimuth March 24, 2015 (5:54 pm)

    Do we pay more in lost time and gas than it would to build more options to get around Seattle?

  • Paul March 24, 2015 (5:55 pm)

    Those turns around that construction are tight, busy, low visibility, poorly lined, and the signage around there is terrible. It’s dangerous. It’s quite possible the circumstances that caused this involved other drivers and/or confusion about the upcoming exit, etc.

  • H20 taxi rider March 24, 2015 (5:57 pm)

    5:15 water taxi sailing at capacity. People left at the dock.

  • John W Tobin March 24, 2015 (5:57 pm)

    The guys from “Highway thru Hell” would have had that cleared up a long time ago.

  • plf March 24, 2015 (6:01 pm)

    Havent left pill hill yet
    any advice

  • Alkidoc March 24, 2015 (6:02 pm)

    SB down 23rd ave into beacon hill and onto wsb is fine!

  • KJ March 24, 2015 (6:06 pm)

    Got on the 120 at 3rd & Seneca around 5:15 and got off at Andover & Delridge around 5:55. Our driver stayed on 3rd, didn’t stop on Columbia, and detoured to I-5. Not too bad if you ask me; I expected it to be much, much worse.

  • Kc March 24, 2015 (6:13 pm)

    Remember the monorail vote
    Transit above the traffic in affected

  • Steve March 24, 2015 (6:15 pm)

    Commuting each day ain’t the best
    On the best days it’s really a test
    But due to a cough
    I took the day off
    Just chilling on 35th Southwest

  • Eileen March 24, 2015 (6:16 pm)

    Was able to get on 5:15 WT and the shuttle at seacrest was packed to capacity. Good call that there is also the 37 bus or else stop at marination makai for dinner

  • Marlene March 24, 2015 (6:26 pm)

    And to think that our Seattle leaders initially thought that we could just demolish the viaduct and use surface streets instead! Sigh.

  • joe March 24, 2015 (6:30 pm)

    Any update? At least an eta.

    • WSB March 24, 2015 (6:32 pm)

      No ETA but I’m posting every incremental update the city sends. As of a few minutes ago, “Responders have separated the tractor from the overturned trailer and are attempting to put the trailer back on its wheels again now.”

  • Trevor March 24, 2015 (6:47 pm)

    It seems like they could at least let people use SB 99 until the Atlantic St exit instead of making everyone get off at Denny Way and fight their way through an already gridlocked downtown. Seems like an unnecessary exacerbation of the problem. Atlantic provides easy access to I90, I5, and even WS via 1st Ave.

  • JayDee March 24, 2015 (6:47 pm)

    The Light rail to 50 took longer than expected but mainly because the 50 was late (the next 50 was behind it, predictably empty. But I had a seat for awhile.

  • tim March 24, 2015 (6:57 pm)

    Took the 21 instead of the C Line on 3rd at Columbia and only had to walk about a half a mile from 35th to my home instead of getting all the way to the Alaska Junction. Got home near my usual time. I’m always prepared to walk the six miles home.

  • Ray West March 24, 2015 (6:59 pm)

    From UW to West Seattle, I got home only about 15 minutes later (at 6:20 pm) than usual taking my emergency back-up route home. Glad I heard about this and was able to by-pass the mess. Wishing everyone still out there a safe ride home.

  • themightyrabbit March 24, 2015 (7:12 pm)

    The beer here at RAM in U village is good while we wait for traffic relief. Got immediately seated. Love the comment about the pub crawl. I’m thinking a new Facebook page could spring up each time a traffic calamity occurs so we can group up and get rolling on happy hour….

  • wetone March 24, 2015 (7:13 pm)

    If tunnel ever gets done it’s not if but when something like this roll over or a wreck happens it will most likely require special equipment to help in removal. Because of very limited space for lifting or up-righting object. Not an easy task even as in todays case, just imagine trying in a tunnel where the wreckers or cranes can’t be used because of boom angle and tight clearances…….

  • KKT March 24, 2015 (7:17 pm)

    Just saw on the news that they have the truck up and out of the way, so hopefully it opens up soon!

    • WSB March 24, 2015 (7:50 pm)

      Just passed five hours since first word of this. I should mention, since I don’t think anyone from West Seattle Transportation Coalition has yet, I’m certain this will be discussed when SDOT boss Scott Kubly and others come to the WSTC meeting on Thursday. Bring a question, or just come to listen … 6:30 pm on Thursday, Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, 6400 Sylvan Way.

  • Out for awalk March 24, 2015 (7:20 pm)

    My back end route always works just like described above…..but most folks don’t know what it is…..

  • sam-c March 24, 2015 (7:28 pm)

    Trevor- is there an Atlantic St exit? For some reason, I don’t think it’s there anymore. I experience some standard issue back/ standstill within the last few months or so, and was going to take that exit and go away, But I never saw it? maybe I am thinking of something else. Did they have an on-ramp over there (SB) that they don’t have anymore? I guess I don’t take 99 often enough.

  • Jason March 24, 2015 (7:36 pm)

    Bike ride home was 30 min from Belltown to the top of admiral, best form of transport even in the rain, just watch out for taxis and bad drivers, take the sidewalk if possible.

  • Dan March 24, 2015 (7:46 pm)

    We at Peel&Press extend our happy hour when things like this happen on 99 or the bridge. We call it “traffic Hour” and extend it until 7pm so your drive doesn’t cause you to miss out.

  • Kermer March 24, 2015 (8:05 pm)

    Recognizing that everyone (self included) has been quite inconvenienced but the traffic disaster, and that there are many real traffic/commuting issues highlighted by this event.

    What I really want to know is: What kind of fish was in the trailer?

    At least give me some entertainment while I’m stuck looking at taillights!!

  • LB March 24, 2015 (8:10 pm)

    @sam-c: The Atlantic St exit is still there.

    @Trevor: The truck overturned north of the ramp, so access to the off ramp was blocked as well.

  • CE March 24, 2015 (8:13 pm)

    Fish smash viaduct
    Spilling seafood, standing traffic, time
    Gone like the chinook.

  • ScubaFrog March 24, 2015 (8:14 pm)

    It would be nice if the US cared about infrastructure. I’d eagerly pay more in taxes for mass light-rail. Other developed nations care about transportation. Maybe in a few centuries we’ll have high-speed rail… Maybe not.

  • Stephanie Greene March 24, 2015 (8:22 pm)

    Just read about the 150 people in the plane crash from Barcelona to Germany. Guess it puts it all in perspective…

  • Jason March 24, 2015 (8:43 pm)

    Doubt it on mass transport to west Seattle other than bus and water taxi, they’d rather build a stadium, but we can only hope for it. Just wait until they get done building all those new condos in the junction area and don’t make any road improvements. Another 500-1000 cars during the morning commute will have us reminiscing on the good old days when it only took 40 min to go 6 miles to downtown. Like I said in an earlier post, consider biking to work, it’s 25 min to work and 25 back never more, never less, and you get your exercise at the same time.

  • Babs March 24, 2015 (8:49 pm)

    People need to reach out and ask where was the mayor during this nightmare. This needs to be addressed because this is not acceptable. When that earthquake happens – what is the plan? Think about the silent cost of people late to work, medical appointments missed, and so on and so on. The city core was at a standstill for hours.

  • KB March 24, 2015 (8:50 pm)

    Love the haiku!!!

  • Kona March 24, 2015 (8:51 pm)

    2 hrs to get home thought I5 was the mess missed the 99 issue.
    Good opportunity seattle PD to control some of the choke points .

  • Ted Clifford March 24, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    Thank you WestSeattleBlog for the good reporting. No information was available on seattle.gov or the SPD or SDOT websites. You’d have to go to twitter to find any updates from the Seattle governmental agencies. Oops … you listening, mayor? How are emergencies going to be communicated?

  • Ash March 24, 2015 (8:59 pm)

    It took me 3.5 hrs to get home to WS from Ballard via I5. I left around 410pm. Absolute nightmare.

  • Zanda March 24, 2015 (9:08 pm)

    I got home late, tired, cranky and hungry. Even so, reading that the overturned truck was full of fish gave me a great laugh!

    • WSB March 24, 2015 (9:09 pm)

      And because someone asked, we just asked via Twitter, and have learned it’s … salmon. Whether frozen or fresh or what, we don’t know and they don’t know, but it’s salmon. AND it has to be unloaded before the trailer can be moved, so this is dragging on further.

  • East Coast Cynic March 24, 2015 (9:23 pm)

    @Jason, I believe the SODO arena funding and Sound Transit money for rail are totally separate. For rail, worry about those anti public transportation conservatives in Olympia who just might scuttle the 15 million to fund Sound Transit 3 which expands rail.

  • datamuse March 24, 2015 (10:02 pm)

    Sushi, anyone?

  • Freedom Spice March 24, 2015 (10:08 pm)

    Everybody should get free salmon who was stuck today!

  • rpo March 24, 2015 (10:08 pm)

    I just drove through downtown 15 minutes ago. Still closed and still a traffic nightmare.

  • Diane March 24, 2015 (10:24 pm)

    good questions about “where was the Mayor?” through all this

  • newesty. March 24, 2015 (10:29 pm)

    I left Ballard at 420pm today, I got to my husband office downtown at 545pm. We decided to go to a movie and wait it out. We left downtown at almost 9pm and the bridge was still closed. We pulled over to get an update from a police officer and he told us they can’t get the semi out of the way. Wouldn’t give us any more details. Hope it’s open in the morning otherwise the s–t show continues….

    • WSB March 24, 2015 (10:46 pm)

      Couple things: Just heard via scanner, they are about a third of the way done offloading trailer. Might try again to move it when it’s half empty. The fear is that it’ll tip again.
      Also, for those who asked about protocols, I’ve been going back and reading the reports that mostly followed up on last June’s five-hour closure of 99 from downtown to south of the West Seattle Bridge because of a crash investigation. The circumstances have little in common – here the issue seems to be what specifically are the reasons the truck/trailer could not be moved more quickly. But the report from last year also addresses communications and other side points. Read it here: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/meetingrecords/2014/transportation20141209_11b.pdf

  • West Seattle Hipster March 24, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    Glad to see people questioning where the mayor was during this debacle. Leadership was needed today and was sorely lacking.


    Surface option? LOL!

  • Jenny S March 24, 2015 (10:33 pm)

    It was salmon? NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

  • Kim March 24, 2015 (10:34 pm)

    We could have grabbed some friends and moved that cargo by hand faster than this. How on earth does it take Seattle so long to clear our roadways? Ugh.

  • West Seattle Hipster March 24, 2015 (10:54 pm)

    Excellent coverage WSB, you have been an invaluable source of info.

    • WSB March 24, 2015 (11:32 pm)

      Trailer/truck taken away! But not open just yet.

  • dbf March 24, 2015 (10:54 pm)

    Encompassed by water, every N/S corridor funnels to 99 or I5. With 99 blocked, every imaginable street to I5 was chaos. 2 hours from Ballard, but whatever, this city shuts down completely for these things. The toll tunnel will just increase the headache for those without extra income to mitigate.

  • BurtsDad March 24, 2015 (11:02 pm)

    I didn’t think semi trailers are allowed in the Battery Street tunnel and or the raised portions of hwy 99

  • dbf March 24, 2015 (11:03 pm)

    Maybe then we can call it “Interstate 8-5”.

  • XXX March 25, 2015 (12:49 am)

    @Burts: pretty sure that’s haz mats/flammables that aren’t allowed. To get Monday morning quarterback… This was probably a case of a shifting load which took down the trailer… Poorly loaded or unsafe speed for the trailer load… All it takes is a couple of pallets of salmon to shift and the whole works topples.

  • Kevin March 25, 2015 (1:29 am)

    Let’s not forget the history on this issue. WSB covered a simular scenario not long ago. https://westseattleblog.com/2014/11/followup-bridge-backup-from-hour-and-a-half-tow-truck-wait-case-of-confusion/

  • ChefJoe March 25, 2015 (1:59 am)

    are salmon hazardous or combustible or was the trailer loaded to more than 105,500 lb total mass?

    If “no” to all the above then the truck was legally ok.

  • JanS March 25, 2015 (4:16 am)

    for those on First (Pill) Hill…in the future. …take Boren to 12th through the ID, over the Rizal Bridge, go straight on 15th s. past Pac Med, all the way to Spokane St. Go right on Spokane, then right onto Columbia towards the Spokane St. Viaduct. and over the bridge. It’s quick, it’s easy, you avoid downtown entirely. (Yes, I have lots of doc appts – lol)

  • miws March 25, 2015 (5:32 am)

    Trailer/truck taken away!


    So long, and thanks for all the fish….



  • WS since '66 March 25, 2015 (6:14 am)

    West Seattle hipster: “Glad to see people questioning where the mayor was during this debacle. Leadership was needed today and was sorely lacking.”

    Just curious, your comment must have been rhetorical, what could the mayor have done that would have been to your liking besides directing traffic? Define what you would do if you were in a leadership position such as mayor.

    Those citing Boston’s Big Dig please do a little research so as not to sound uninformed. There is no comparison. A couple facts about Boston’s project. It built 161 lanes miles of highway in a 7.5 mile corridor, about half in tunnels, including four major highway interchanges. The Ted Williams Tunnel interface in East Boston between the land-based approach and the underwater portion is 90 feet below the surface of Boston Harbor, the deepest such connection in North America. The project went under 2 waterways. For more facts go to http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/TheBigDig/FactsFigures.aspx

    Compare that to Seattle’s 1.2 mile tunnel that doesn’t go under any body of water.

  • Meredith March 25, 2015 (6:30 am)

    After last night I would absolutely be going to the West Seattle Transportation Council meeting on Thursday if I didn’t have a commitment I can’t get out of. I hope others go and raise some hell with the DOT guy, because these situations are just embarrassing for the city. Throw some stinky fish, or something…

  • wfb March 25, 2015 (6:53 am)

    Is getting what I want or where I’m going so important that I am willing to risk my
    life … or other people’s lives?

    Am I willing to be involved in a collision or get a ticket just to get to work on time,
    get ahead of someone else, or have some fun?

    If you answer “yes” even sometimes to these questions, you also have to accept the responsibility and results of risk-taking behavior.

  • Amy Thomson March 25, 2015 (6:59 am)

    I miss Ivar Haglund! He’d have pulled a great stunt out of this, like maybe getting all the Pike Place Market fish throwers down there to help empty the truck, all while singing “Thirty thousand pounds of … Smoked salmon!” Or something!

  • D-Mom March 25, 2015 (7:22 am)

    I was in a similar situation in 1992 in Minneapolis. Beer truck tipped over in front of the Lowry tunnel on I-94. This is in the spaghetti junction area where I-35 intersects. Freeway shut down and all traffic diverted to city streets. They too had to unload the truck. But, despite the fact that it was a much larger roadway with more traffic, the problem was solved in about 3 hours and the freeway reopened. That’s what a good infrastructure (roads and resources) gives you. Also it did not cripple the city due to the other thoroughfares available (something Seattle is lacking). And boy did it smell bad. Like a dorm room on a Sunday morning. Whew!

  • miws March 25, 2015 (7:27 am)

    Amy, your comment is worthy of an Award….




  • BB March 25, 2015 (7:30 am)

    This situation really highlights how horrible it will be when a major earthquake hits. The city will be impassable if the viaduct or any bridges go down. If the city can’t even remove one truck how are they going to handle mass injuries if the infrastructure fails. Ambulances and emergency personnel will not be able to reach us. I have always heard West Seattle should plan for a week being on our own after an earthquake…now I believe it.

  • WS since '66 March 25, 2015 (8:33 am)

    D-Mom: ” Also it did not cripple the city due to the other thoroughfares available (something Seattle is lacking).”

    Please compare a map of Seattle and a map of Minneapolis.

  • Smitty March 25, 2015 (8:43 am)

    If the situation does not involve saving a life and/or a death investigation then they should have the authority to MOVE THE DAMN TRUCK off the roadway. There were commercial vehicles sitting right there that could have done the job. Worry about getting it upright later. People relying on firefighters and ambulance drivers will thank you greatly!

  • David March 25, 2015 (9:08 am)

    I wonder what happened to the (likely) million dollars worth of salmon?

    • WSB March 25, 2015 (9:13 am)

      SPD told an inquirer via Twitter that “we’ve cast some lines for info. We’ll see what we can reel in.”

  • Melissa March 25, 2015 (9:15 am)

    Remember the great Norwegian cheese fire of two years ago? It lasted 5 days.

  • heather March 25, 2015 (9:28 am)

    Great comment @Amy! And @Meredith the pub crawl home wb awesome!

    It’s the day after and I’m kinda getting a Gary Larson-esque kick by thinking that for the first time ever, after months of careful planning, kamakaze salmon have finally interefered with human migration…

  • KBear March 25, 2015 (9:35 am)

    For those of you using this as another excuse to bash the tunnel project, you do realize that if it weren’t for the tunnel, the viaduct would have been permanently closed several years ago?

  • JM March 25, 2015 (9:38 am)

    I’d avoid unusually-steeply discounted salmon for the next week or so.

  • Smitty March 25, 2015 (9:51 am)

    “For those of you using this as another excuse to bash the tunnel project, you do realize that if it weren’t for the tunnel, the viaduct would have been permanently closed several years ago?”

    Retro-fitters unite!

  • Amy Thomson March 25, 2015 (9:56 am)

    @Mike MWIS, Thanks, I do my humble best!

  • Snack March 25, 2015 (10:28 am)

    WS Since 66…… is so right about the false comparison of the Seattle tunnel to the Big Dig in Boston. It’s like comparing the construction of a freeway overpass to the construction of the new 520 floating bridge. I just wish WSDOT would counter with this excellent explanation whenever some uninformed citizen spouts off, comparing the Big Dig to the Seattle tunnel. Props to WS since 66, for stating the facts.

  • wetone March 25, 2015 (11:03 am)

    Smitty, Ding ding exactly right. With all the equipment around at that spot they could of used a couple of big end loaders or even trackhoes to move the ecology blocks and pushed the rig and trailer off the roadway in minutes after they found out no was seriously hurt. Damage done would be covered by insurance. Can’t imagine the money and peoples personal issues this caused by allowing roadway to be shut down for 9hrs. The responses from this city have sadly been laughable lately in many of these types of situations. It’s almost like they(city)wants to drag things out for some reason… or maybe there is just to much government involved for making a quick common sense decision….
    KBear don’t know where you get your info but totally wrong.

  • liz March 25, 2015 (11:05 am)

    It might be worth noting that a senate approved transportation package – including the expansion of light rail – is being heard in the House of Representatives this week. Make sure you let your reps know what you want.

  • Kermit March 25, 2015 (12:15 pm)

    At this point, I would hope the mayor has requested that Scott Kubly of SeattleDOT come to city hall to explain himself and the brilliant work the genius staff of his department did yesterday. Could be a fun Q&A tomorrow, assuming Mr. Kubly still has his job by then. He owes the city an explanation and an apology.

  • linda March 25, 2015 (12:21 pm)

    Tried to post this last night but it failed: I was concerned about the immediate conclusion the driver must have been going to fast for road conditions in that curvy area. It might also have been triggered by a driver who was in a big fat rush cutting the semi off. It also might be the case put out by XXX, the load inside the trailer could have shifted, pulling the tractor over. A trailer like that could hold anywhere from 20,000# to 55,000# of fish (55,000# if it was on a super chassis). That much weight suddenly shifting on those curves could easily have tipped everything over.

  • Kermit March 25, 2015 (12:46 pm)

    I drive this curve all the time – it is very treacherous, especially for drivers who don’t know how sharp of a turn it is. People get in trouble and end up hitting their brakes in the middle of it, cars, trucks, everybody. The driver was too fast but let’s not blame that person alone.

    Instead, let us contemplate the unmitigated disaster that was this response. Unload the fish truck – I think this could be a fun event during street fairs in Seattle. Can a bunch of scrappy 5th graders get this job done faster than SeattleDOT? If betting were allowed, my dollars would be on the 5th graders. Couple of interesting tidbits from the timeline:

    -SPD took 30 minutes to call a tow truck
    -Took SeattleDOT almost an hour to get to the scene
    -The second tow truck didn’t arrive until 1:45 after the accident.

    I also don’t quite buy the whole “the roads were too blocked” line. Yes, they were but:

    -Once the tow trucks were in the area, why couldn’t SPD route them onto the road through an off-ramp South of the accident and instead claim they needed to clear all the cars behind it first?
    -If the trucks got stuck further away, send some of SPD’s finest to escort them to the scene.
    -And as many others have already pointed out, there was a lot of equipment at the dig site and in the harbor, why oh why didn’t SeattleDOT use any of that to pull the thing out of the way and deal with unloading and uprighting it later?

    Armchair quarterbacking I know, but this symbolizes a lack of urgency and accountability that keeps propping up in this town. In case the SeattleDOT Director slot becomes vacant soon (which I would hope after the second such genius operation in less than a year), let’s have the city’s smartest 5th grader (well ok fine, 7th grader then) apply for it. Couldn’t do worse than current leadership.

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