UPDATE: Southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct closed 2+ hours because of spool-carrying truck’s trouble

(UPDATED 4:41 PM with new post-incident info from SPD)

11:51 AM: The traffic backup on the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct looks more like afternoon commute right now than lunchtime. SPD says it’s because of a lost load – reportedly a “12-foot spool.” SDOT says it’s at Seneca Street and blocking the right lane. WSDOT describes it as “a truck striking the Seneca St. overpass.” More to come.

11:59 AM: Now SDOT says the southbound Viaduct is closed at the Battery Street Tunnel.

12:04 PM: Update from SFD:

Here’s a picture from the scene. (Added: Alan sent this photo looking southwestward toward the trouble spot, taken in the early going:)

12:16 PM UPDATE: The Columbia Street onramp to 99 remains open, per SDOT. And they’ve just announced they’re opening a lane beyond that.

12:29 PM: Southbound 99 is being closed again from the BSTunnel and Western – but again, access from Columbia Street is *not* affected. WSDOT now says, “Forklifts from the Viaduct project are going to the semi on the SB 99 Viaduct to help secure the large spools of wire.” (Added: Photo sent by Ben:)

1 PM: They’re still working to clear the situation.

1:52 PM: SPD says the semitruck driver will be cited. They’re close to clearing the scene.

1:57 PM: Reopened!

2:18 PM: It did not go unnoticed that all this happened one day after a City Council committee was debriefed on the 9-hour fish-truck crash closure – also on SB 99 – last month (here’s our coverage of the debrief). The mayor’s office just tweeted this:

We’re adding, above, some additional images that came in during the operation to clear the spools. Thanks to everyone who sent photos!

4:41 PM: Just in via SPD Blotter, including an update on the Viaduct’s structural status and the fine faced by the trucker:

olice received 911 reports at 11:34 AM that a semi-truck had lost a load of two 12-foot spools—each weighing between 700 and 1,000 pounds—on the southbound lanes of the viaduct, near Columbia Street. At least one of the spools struck the underside of the upper level of the viaduct, dislodging the massive load from the truck’s flatbed trailer.

Officers blocked traffic onto the viaduct between the Battery Street Tunnel and Stewart Street while officials from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light worked to bring in heavy equipment to remove the spools.

Crews were able to use a bulldozer to re-load and secure the spools back on the semi-truck, which was moved to a construction area. Officials reopened the viaduct shortly before 2 PM. Today’s efforts to clear SR99 were significantly aided by planning and partnerships developed after another incident involving a semi-truck in March, which led to a nine-hour closure of the viaduct.

The Seattle Department of Transportation Commercial Vehicle Enforcement team cited the semi driver for “no oversized permit,” a violation of a state permit, and for “hitting a structure with impaired clearance.” The driver received $482 in citations, and could potentially face fines totaling thousands of dollars to cover the costs of the efforts to remove the spools. Oversized loads are not permitted on the portion of the viaduct where today’s collision occurred.

Officials have confiscated the driver’s commercial transportation permit, which he will need to reapply for before he can transport the load anywhere.

State officials say the spools—which were reportedly headed for Alabama—appear to have only caused minor damage to the viaduct. They will conduct a further assessment later this evening.

32 Replies to "UPDATE: Southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct closed 2+ hours because of spool-carrying truck's trouble"

  • sc April 29, 2015 (11:59 am)

    If it’s a “spool” maybe they can just roll it off the viaduct instead of waiting for officials to figure out what to do ;)

  • seattletimebandit April 29, 2015 (12:05 pm)

    Should we start a betting pool on how long this will take to clear?

    • WSB April 29, 2015 (12:13 pm)

      Monitoring on scanner and they are working really hard to get one lane open.

  • Eric April 29, 2015 (12:14 pm)

    I just walked by the battery street on ramp and although there’s a police car there with lights they seem to be letting people on.

    • WSB April 29, 2015 (12:21 pm)

      Eric – thanks, we updated a few minutes ago; they have opened one lane. Please note that at some point a re-closure might be needed to clear the truck, which is still where its spool hit the structure.

  • Eric1 April 29, 2015 (12:17 pm)

    Uh oh, the insurance adjuster may already be there. Better wait until 9:00 PM after we get enough heavy equipment to jack up the viaduct for additional clearance before we move the truck. We wouldn’t want to do any additional damage the spool.

  • miws April 29, 2015 (12:19 pm)

    sc, that will have to be determined solely by an insurance company rep.



  • Community Member April 29, 2015 (12:34 pm)

    Wait – the oversize truck actually hit the bridge structure?

    I’d expect that someone will soon decide that it isn’t just a case of clearing the truck and its load. I expect that they’ll want to clear the bridge both directions for several hours to make an emergency safety inspection.

  • SJ2 April 29, 2015 (12:40 pm)

    Grrr… again!? I wish they would not allow trucks on the viaduct!

  • trickycoolj April 29, 2015 (12:46 pm)

    My prediction for the aftermath report 6 weeks from now: well we figured out we had 2 systems of prioritization but we hadn’t actually decided which one to use by the time of the wire spool incident. We decided that it was best to protect the wire from copper thieves.

    In all seriousness, this is their test to prove they can get this done before the 3pm southbound traffic starts.

  • K M April 29, 2015 (1:13 pm)

    A friend who works in the office overlooking where this happened just said that the sound and ground-shaking of the moment of impact was huge and concerning. Wondering if there are structural issues here?

  • workdowntown April 29, 2015 (1:17 pm)

    There are no cars traveling south 99 before the Columbia St onramp.. None whatsoever.

  • alki resident April 29, 2015 (1:20 pm)

    Forklift is coming from Queen Anne, it’s going to take awhile. Also, this truck has a huge load,I wonder if it should’ve been on I-5 not Viaduct. This could’ve been much worse where a column could’ve been jeopardized ,causing more damage to viaduct.

  • West Seattle since 1979 April 29, 2015 (1:44 pm)

    I just saw a Rapid Ride C bus go by on the viaduct–it would have gotten on at the Columbia St. exit.

  • Brad Rains April 29, 2015 (1:45 pm)

    Forklift just drove by

  • secure your load April 29, 2015 (1:48 pm)

    yikes, was anyone behind the truck when it lost its spool? that sounds scary.

  • sc April 29, 2015 (3:19 pm)

    Wonder what the driver will be cited for? Spoolishness ;)

  • Wendell April 29, 2015 (3:42 pm)

    There are a lot more clowns driving big vehicles these days.

  • wetone April 29, 2015 (4:09 pm)

    For being in such bad shape as the city lead everyone to believe the old viaduct sure takes a beating and continues holding up quite well.
    If and when the tunnel ever gets finished it sure will be interesting to see how the city handles accidents requiring large equipment for removal. As it has less accessibility and much tighter working area.

  • m April 29, 2015 (4:12 pm)

    Have to give them credit this time for clearing so quickly. Well done. They and we are really lucky it happened in the middle of the day.

  • Adam April 29, 2015 (4:18 pm)

    I drove by moments after this happened, and I gotta say; it’s a good thing one of those spools didn’t land on someones small car. We would’t just be complaining about traffic then.

    If I drive down he highway with an “unsecured” load in my pick-up truck, I get a ticket. I hope these jokers get more than a driving infraction, but a serious fine.

  • west seattle codger April 29, 2015 (4:41 pm)

    Isn’t this in the area of settling? Could the actual height of the deck levels have changed enough to contribute to this?

    • WSB April 29, 2015 (4:43 pm)

      That general vicinity, yes, but I just added new info from SPD Blotter, including that oversized loads are not supposed to be using this part of 99 anyway.

  • Joan April 29, 2015 (4:58 pm)

    Large and heavy loads should not be allowed on the viaduct, period. They should be required to use I-5.

    Also, they shouldn’t be allowed through the Battery tunnel.

  • Sots April 29, 2015 (5:08 pm)

    Fine the driver and co!

  • jwright April 29, 2015 (5:37 pm)

    “The driver received $482 in citations, and could potentially face fines totaling thousands of dollars to cover the costs of the efforts to remove the spools.”
    Why only “could”? This ought to be absolutely, 100%, for sure will be fined to cover the costs.

  • Seattlite April 29, 2015 (6:56 pm)

    Truck size/weight needs to be restricted for viaduct travel. I’ve also noted that truck drivers with large trucks on the freeways, 99 always speed which increases the risk of the truck driver losing control. I respect these big rigs but the truck drivers need to think safety first before breaking speed limits and potentially endangering any cars in close proximity.

  • trickycoolj April 29, 2015 (9:30 pm)

    I have often wondered why semis are even allowed on the viaduct, you can feel the whole thing shake when they go by. It’s scary.

  • AIDM April 29, 2015 (9:34 pm)

    With all the twists, turns and construction, its time for DOT to ban trucks on 99 between the battery street tunnel and the West Seattle bridge.

  • JanS April 29, 2015 (11:42 pm)

    The driver…71 years old…was carrying a load that was higher than the allowed 14feet, no over size load permit…guys needs to lose his job and retire…and if the viaduct is damaged and needs repair, the company he works for needs to pay up.

    @AIDM…I agree…let them travel on I-5…the AWV is the last place they should be…

  • w.s. maverick April 30, 2015 (5:50 am)

    why is an oversize load going down the viaduct not a good idea seattle

  • Community Member April 30, 2015 (12:11 pm)

    JanS – do you have any particular reason to assume that this accident had anything at all to do with the driver’s age?Surely you aren’t saying that in the same situation, with a driver who was, say, half that age – 35.5 years old – then he should keep driving? Why is the age relevant?

Sorry, comment time is over.