TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates, with the arrival of China’s president

(SCROLL DOWN for updates on President Xi Jinping’s arrival/Seattle-bound travel)

(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
6:16 AM: Good morning. It’s Tuesday. So let’s get right to Topic A:

ABOUT THAT PRESIDENTIAL VISIT: The warnings started last week, that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping could lead to a regional traffic nightmare from his arrival this morning through his departure Thursday morning. Here’s the newest information:

Arrival: His 747 is bound for Paine Field in Snohomish County, original estimate 9:30 am-ish per the Everett Herald, which says he’ll be welcomed there by a delegation including Gov. Inslee and Mayor Murray. (Check flight tracking here or here.)

After that: He’s headed to Seattle. Exactly where/when hasn’t been announced. But overall – here’s a one-sheet from SPD:

Metro bus reroutes: Listed here. As we reported last night, no West Seattle-specific routes are listed.

We’ll update with any more info we get through the day, particularly affecting I-5 and 99.

OTHER WEST SEATTLE ALERTS: On the eastbound bridge, you’ll see the new red bus-lane markings (here’s what we found out in the work zone last night) … At 9:30 am, the City Council Transportation Committee meeting includes discussion of the new West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor report (first published here Sunday night), with 27 potential action items … Also on that agenda, SDOT director Scott Kubly‘s periodic report. It previews more speed-limit cuts citywide next year:

Vision Zero Partners Meeting occurred on August 31 to discuss 2015 implementation and start developing our 2016 work plan.
 20 mph speed limit on non-arterials streets citywide
 25 mph Citywide arterial speed limit (unless otherwise signed)
 Gateway signage at all entrances to Seattle
 New red light camera installations
 Educational outreach highlighting crosswalk law

This year, some arterials are being lowered to 30 mph – including Roxbury and 35th in West Seattle, as they’re being rechannelized – and some neighborhood streets, to 20 mph (Admiral-area signage changes got a little more attention because of a signage snafu, you might recall).

8:24 AM: TV traffic tweeters are reporting that the southbound I-5 express lanes have been closed ahead of the Chinese president’s arrival, though his 747 hasn’t landed at Paine Field yet.

8:47 AM: KING’s crew at Paine Field says the landing is expected in about 15 minutes.

9:08 AM: Multiple regional-news crews at Paine Field have shown the 747 touching down moments ago. With the southbound I-5 express-lane shutdown, it appears that’s the route he’ll be using to head to downtown Seattle from there, but no word yet how soon. We’ll update when we hear that’s under way.

9:49 AM: The presidential motorcade is now reported to be headed southbound toward Seattle. We’re moving on to other news atop the home page but will update here when there’s word he’s arrived and anything else major during the day.

10:30 AM: Following the arrival downtown, this from WSDOT re: I-5:

11:30 AM: Stalled vehicle reported toward the westbound inside lane(s) of the West Seattle Bridge, midspan.

4:12 PM: The presidential entourage is expected to stay in downtown Seattle for the rest of tonight, so there are no “on the move” advisories expected during the commute – but tomorrow, he has stops including Redmond and Tacoma, so expect more effects at more times.

31 Replies to "TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday updates, with the arrival of China's president"

  • Commuter September 22, 2015 (8:11 am)


    For those of us that need to drive, these lower speed limits will put the city into GRIDLOCK. How can this city function if people and products can not move?

  • alkiwoody September 22, 2015 (8:11 am)

    Aren’t these visiting heads of state the rich guys? Why can’t they helicopter from place to place instead of inconveniencing everybody that has to get to work?! And that goes for Obama too when he comes to fundraise next month!

  • Joe Szilagyi September 22, 2015 (8:26 am)

    For all the incessant complaints about the red striping of the bus lane that I’ve seen online — and the price is a valid thing to discuss — I watched a car camp that bus lane today when I just was in the #21. And he sat there despite the bus laying on the horn for FORTY SECONDS. Then he finally accelerated forward. If the “Gore Cop” had been there the guy would have had a ticket for sure, but alas he was not there today. The guy was loitering and trying to cheat ahead of the queue to merge left toward I-5 or 1st or 4th.
    Just like the Roxbury and 35th Road Diets, *THIS* is why we can’t have nice things.
    It’s a fixture in these comments, people are CONSTANTLY violating the bus-only lane. That’s entitlement plain and simple, to think that your needs as a single occupancy vehicle are more important than a bus full of 100 people. I hope SDOT and the City grow the nerve to put an actual PHYSICAL barricade to keep you all out of the lane. With a gate that only a bus transponder can activate. Deal with it.

  • datamuse September 22, 2015 (8:40 am)

    How do lower speed limits cause gridlock?
    No, seriously. How does that work?

  • Chris September 22, 2015 (8:44 am)

    Or, with the lower vehicle speeds, is it possible that traffic might flow more smoothly because people have better reaction times at slower speeds, more ability to merge smoothly, etc.?

    I’ve always been intrigued by this idea (, likening traffic to gas molecule movement. Maybe better flow at slower speeds can lead to less gridlock?

  • Sevenless September 22, 2015 (8:51 am)

    I’ll gladly join the campaign to stop the war on cars when drivers show they can respect the existing rules. If people weren’t blasting down these roads at 40+ there wouldn’t be the push to do things like rechannel and reduce the speed limit.

  • Northwest September 22, 2015 (9:17 am)

    Support the lower speed limits and anything which helps metro buses move people around Seattle in a more efficiently. I make it a point while driving to give transit the right of way as a mostly single occupancy driver hopefully my own as well as others actions help bus commuters get to where they are going a little faster.

  • Jon Wright September 22, 2015 (9:25 am)

    Not sure what the “War On Cars” crowd stands for. Whenever I see that invoked, it only ever seems to be an anti-something screed, usually based on anecdotes, not facts.

  • captain Dave September 22, 2015 (10:30 am)

    I don’t understand why more people in West Seattle don’t have boats. I can get from West Seattle to Ballard and back in less time that it takes to ride a bus to downtown. With all this water around us, you would think that our transportation experts would be busy thinking up alternative solutions using the sea. Puget Sound is already a natural highway. Why isn’t there a water taxi from West Seattle to Interbay, north central waterfront, or even bainbridge and manchester? Maybe the port should use part of Terminal 5 for parking and water taxi dock so that water transportation is not restricted to just the lucky people who find street parking?

  • D September 22, 2015 (11:17 am)

    Speaking of basing things on facts rather than anecdotes, where is the study that supports lowering the speed limits? What is that based on? Looks to me it’s like the Admiral hill road diet. Despite studies showing it was one of the safest roads in the city, it got an expensive road diet to appease the squeaky wheels. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

    • WSB September 22, 2015 (11:33 am)

      D – It is apparently based on the speed-limit data that has been presented at every discussion of this (it’s not in the SDOT director’s report because that’s a collection of toplines – I read it when it arrives in agendas because, well, we like to be able to get information out as soon as it sees the light of day, so you at least know what’s in the works, and I had not previously heard of the phase 2 “25 mph on all arterials” – today’s meeting is running so long they haven’t even gotten to the bridge report yet, and I doubt the director’s report will get much if any discussion). Anyway, page 12 in:
      1 in 10 pedestrians survives if hit at 40 mph.
      9 in 10 pedestrians survive if hit at 20 mph.

  • datamuse September 22, 2015 (12:09 pm)

    captain Dave, you’re making me nostalgic for the river ferry service in Bangkok. Sometimes it was so crowded I was practically hanging on outside, but it was still a remarkably quick way to get around.

  • Fiwa Jcbbb September 22, 2015 (12:23 pm)

    If you want nanny-state speed limits, move to Bellevue. With a 20mph speed limit they’ll be ticketing bicycles…but they won’t natch, because “War On Cars”, which some 70% of us seem to find necessary at some point.I find many near vehicle-pedestrian collisions could be stopped by having walkers do that “stop look and listen” thing they were taught in elementary school rather than launching themselves into crosswalks militantly exercising their right-of-way in front of drivers who can’t see them.

    @Captain Dave: Great idea, but…where to park?

  • Michele Drayton September 22, 2015 (12:25 pm)

    Speaking of transportation, a $930 million levy will be on the ballot this fall. See Brian Dudley’s column in Seattle Times September 14th. He explains that Complete Streets does not mean finishing projects. It means more bike and bus lanes. Road diets is code for eliminating car lanes to make room for bike lanes. Since this is controversial MOVE SEATTLE is spinning it as a safety issue. Move Seattle offers $303 million for “congestion relief”, but the most money goes for multimodal corridors. 100 miles of new bike lanes will have little effect on how Seattle moves. Check out this column and think carefully. How many people can really bike to work in Seattle.

    • WSB September 22, 2015 (12:42 pm)

      @Michele – For clarification, rechannelization (aka road diets) do *not* all involve bicycle lanes. 35th is not getting bicycle lanes. Roxbury’s bicycle lanes are somewhere in the future. Don’t know what ST link you are referring to but we have been reporting on the MoveSeattle levy and various road projects here for a very long time. The levy was officially sent to the ballot almost three months ago – here’s our report, with more details – Definitely, it calls for careful scrutiny by every voter to decide whether to support it. Some have voiced concerns (also covered here) on whether it has enough in it for West Seattle.
      Re: Complete Streets, it’s not a concept solely associated with the levy – it dates back to a City Council ordinance from eight years ago (didn’t realize it’s been that long until I looked it up). Explained here:
      And for anyone interested in the speed-limit item above, the SDOT director’s report did not get any discussion at today’s meeting, which ran overtime and included scant talk of the West Seattle Bridge report. So, we’ll have to follow up on it separately, maybe not today as SDOT among other departments are all caught up in information circulation related to President Xi’s visit. … TR

  • Steph September 22, 2015 (12:27 pm)

    And can we talk about the new striping on 35th? I can’t get out of my side street onto 35th during rush hour unless someone is nice enough to let me in (which usually is about the 20th car or so). Completely backed up. Forever.

  • ltfd September 22, 2015 (12:38 pm)

    Support the War of Zero Vision.

  • Chris September 22, 2015 (1:04 pm)

    Here’s the Brier Dudley column referred to above:

    To me, the column seems like more of a tongue-in-cheek “translation” of buzzwords than a verifiable expose of the city’s motivations.

    For example, what’s wrong with “Complete Streets,” in that the streets facilitate all users, not just cars? Pedestrians, buses, and, yes, bicycles, need to use the streets as well. Why not plan for this?

  • Scott September 22, 2015 (3:01 pm)

    Am I correct in thinking that 35th is going down to one lane and 30 mph? Makes sense during the middle of the day but I’d love to have the Mayor and his advisors spend a week commuting on it during rush hour. Going to be very painful. Almost adding insult to injury for what is already a horrible commute.

    Re: future plans – I love using bike paths. Isn’t it fun spending a day off in Vancouver or Portland? But the utmost priority should be to increase bus capacity. There should be express buses every five minutes during rush hour from 35th, the 3 Junctions (Alaska,Morgan and Admiral) and Delridge Monday through Friday. Then you might convince enough people to use public transport to ease congestion.

    Overall, we collectively need to start to re-imagining the workplace for the 21st century. Given this thing invented 25 years ago called the Internet there is no need for most people to work in an office five days a week. The City and State could take the lead by reducing taxes on businesses that allow workers to work from home the majority of time. Of course there are probably too many vested interests in place to allow that to happen. But it would be better for the environment, corporate profits (happier workers are more productive) and everyone’s quality of life in the long run.

  • D September 22, 2015 (3:14 pm)

    The primary message I got from the Vision Zero stuff is how safe Seattle is. Why is zero crashes even a goal? That is only attainable by eliminating driving.

    Those stats sound all very good:

    1 in 10 pedestrians survives if hit at 40 mph.

    9 in 10 pedestrians survive if hit at 20 mph.

    But no one is proposing reducing a 40 mph speed limit, as far as I can tell. How many pedestrians survive at 25 mph, and does the difference in lives saved between 25 and 20 justify lowering it to 20? That’s the question. And how many survive at 10 mph? I bet it’s more; why aren’t we driving 10 mph? If the goal is zero deaths (and it is, apparently), that means no driving. If that’s not a war on cars, I don’t know what is.

  • Kathleen September 22, 2015 (3:53 pm)

    Considering Brier Dudley is historically a tech reporter I am not sure why we would take his opinion column as gospel for how transportation should be changed in Seattle.

  • carlJR September 22, 2015 (4:23 pm)

    Jinping here to see what last few jobs his country can take from us with the willing participation of business owners? Also, why is everything a ‘war on’?

  • Chuck September 22, 2015 (4:33 pm)

    I think we can all agree that safety is important, but that doesn’t mean that it is possible (nor desirable) to eliminate all danger. I agree with the sentiments of D above. Where does the reduction end?

    In my mind part of the issue here is that by creating one lane roads, and lowering the speed limits, we are essentially lowering things to the lowest common denominator. Now everyone will be forced to go 20 miles an hour behind a person who arguably should not still have a driver’s license for whatever reason.

    And frankly, I’d be happy with a war on cars if there were a real alternative. We need a subway train system here. Our mass transit is about as well thought out as the dumb “road diets”. I mean it works great if you take the Sounder to the light rail to the SLUT, but if you live in West Seattle you get to stand on a corner while buses don’t arrive.

    I blame the consultants…its as they say “if you’re not part of the solution, there is good money to be made in prolonging the problem.”

  • Sea Sam September 22, 2015 (4:56 pm)

    Wow, some of you actually think a few seconds of your time is worth someone’s life? With the tone of these comments I’m sure glad I don’t live in west seattle anymore.

  • Northwest September 22, 2015 (7:17 pm)

    And then there are actually people that are from here born and raised in Seattle and have seen the significant change in population and traffic and are glad with the changes being made lowering traffic speeds and providing alternative ways to get around sure we are in desperate need of rail transit but hey this is a city some 15 years back was not really even discover yet 20 yrs back for sure. Long live the northwest.

  • JayDee September 22, 2015 (7:45 pm)

    Sea Sam:

    Look, eliminating the center lane (like on West Admiral) is more than celebrating all transportation modes. West Admiral is a pretty safe stretch of street for the traffic it carries. But eliminating the center lane for turns, like WB at 57th SW could make it less safe as people stare into the sun and realize it is full-stop for people turning left onto 57th. It is not about seconds of time (besides, they were already wasted at 47th and Admiral at the light).

  • Lina September 22, 2015 (8:15 pm)

    As a resident of 35th, I can say that I LOVE the new change. I drive 35th often a few times a day, in all hours and including rush hour. I have not seen gridlock or excessive times to travel since the repainting of the lanes. From my perspective, this change has been a positive move towards the safety of all, including car drivers.

    • WSB September 22, 2015 (8:36 pm)

      By the way … crews are still out doing work at night, so be careful. Putting down more intersection markings, the reflective markers along the center turn lane, etc. – we photographed them at 35th and Trenton a little earlier to have something to go with the forthcoming followup. – TR

  • me September 22, 2015 (9:41 pm)

    They shouldn’t have said a thing about this China president coming here, I’m sure he would have blended in just fine

  • MsD September 22, 2015 (11:27 pm)

    @Scott – as long as Amazon is a primary driver of job growth in Seattle, you will not see a large increase in people working from home. Amazon is dead set against it, Bezos wants bodies in seats in their expensive real estate. The thinking is that good things can only happen in face-to-face meetings with your fellow workaholic geniuses.

  • Scott September 22, 2015 (11:54 pm)

    MsD – I hear you. Massive irony from my experience is that technology companies crave physical locations in order to foster a human hothouse where long hours are the norm not the exception.

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