TRAFFIC ALERT: I-5, I-90 closed north of West Seattle Bridge after tanker-truck crash

(WSDOT traffic cam closest to the truck wreck – refresh page for newest view)

10:50 AM: We’ve been covering this in morning-traffic watch, but it’s a bigger problem now and so we’re breaking it out here: I-5 is CLOSED in both directions north of the West Seattle Bridge because of a tanker-truck crash in the collector-distributor lanes near I-90. The truck went on its side, trapping its driver for a while; he is out now and does not have major injuries, but the truck is reported to have some kind of a leak, and that’s why the shutdown is happening. So avoid I-5 TFN, whether you’re headed southbound or northbound. This is backing up the eastbound Spokane Street Viaduct, too.

(SDOT traffic cam looking east over east end of WS Bridge – refresh page for newest view)
Updates to come.

11:06 AM: This is also affecting I-90, both the eastbound access and westbound exiting in the stadium zones, so if you’re headed here from the eastside, be aware of that too. WSDOT says the tanker truck is full of butane.

11:25 AM: The photo above is from the Washington State Patrol. Per scanner, whether there’s a leak or not is now in question, but they do need to offload the cargo before the truck can be righted, and SFD says that could take a few hours. Also note, apparently I-5 northbound traffic from south of here is being diverted onto the West Seattle Bridge, so you could see some confused people trying to figure out how to get to where they’re going.

11:41 AM: Handy summary from WSDOT:

12:17 PM: No major change in this situation so far – both directions of I-5 are still closed. But there’s a new problem we’re covering separately – a mechanical problem on the dock has Washington State Ferries out of service to and from Fauntleroy TFN.

12:45 PM: Good news – the Fauntleroy terminal is back in service. Still no estimate on how much longer the I-5 closure will last.

12:53 PM: Add to the closures because of the tanker crash – “Northbound Airport Way S now closed at S Lander St. due to the incident on I-5,” per SDOT. The offloading truck, meantime, is reported to be on its way.

1:09 PM: New update from WSDOT:

2:06 PM: Per scanner, they’re getting close to starting the offloading of the tanker that went onto its side. Once that happens, we’ll launch a separate afternoon update.

2:45 PM: And the transfer has begun; so has our afternoon report, here.

32 Replies to "TRAFFIC ALERT: I-5, I-90 closed north of West Seattle Bridge after tanker-truck crash"

  • Coffee February 27, 2017 (11:14 am)

    And taking Columbia and going through Beacon Hill on 15th is very slow.

  • Coffee February 27, 2017 (11:21 am)

    It also appears there is NO police to direct traffic to alternate routes. 

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (11:30 am)

      They’ve been working on that. We have multiple scanner frequencies where logistics are being discussed and it’s clearly been a challenge as they work to coordinate what’s being advised from the scene. Now they’re not even sure there’s a leak, but they do need to offload the butane before pulling the truck up. And also note that since NB I-5 traffic is diverting onto the West Seattle Bridge, you might see some confused people getting off the bridge and trying to figure out how to get where they are going …

  • Michelle February 27, 2017 (11:27 am)

    Back roads via Beacon Hill were starting to get jammed. A transit bus was blocking on ramp from Beacon Hill to I5. Pretty confusing since cars were coming up the on ramp.

  • Alan February 27, 2017 (11:28 am)

    This view from Yesler kind of says it all.

  • clark5080 February 27, 2017 (11:36 am)

    Does this mean that just the one direction would open up? Looks like Northbound could open?


  • Alki Resident February 27, 2017 (11:42 am)

    I’m sorry everyone is stuck in traffic but very greatful the semi driver is ok. 

    • WSB February 27, 2017 (11:45 am)

      SFD updated via Twitter to say three people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Not sure if they were all in the truck or somehow involved otherwise – in the early going, only one was mentioned.

  • Eddie February 27, 2017 (11:42 am)

    Burning that intersection down and rebuilding it with appropriate capacity wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened.

    Think the driver was driving appropriate speed for the conditions?

    • Citizen Sane February 27, 2017 (11:52 am)

      It’s too soon to tell whether the driver of the truck is at fault. A very common scenario is that cars will cut in front of trucks, not being aware of the laws of physics, and that a truck won’t slow down that fast. If a truck is forced to brake harder than prudent because someone has cut him off, jacknifing and rollovers are a definite risk.

  • AMD February 27, 2017 (11:52 am)

    It looks like there are two other cars involved from the SDoT cameras.  I’m hoping those were the other two mentioned with minor injuries and everyone else got out safe.  

  • LT February 27, 2017 (11:58 am)

    I wonder if WSDOT was able to capture the accident on their cameras? Not sure if they take video or only pictures? It looks like 3 vehicles were involved in the accident. Glad everyone will be ok. 

    Just remember to have patience when driving, especially in the slick weather. The extra few seconds you gain by speeding or driving recklessly around someone is not worth risking people’s lives or your own life. 

  • Alan February 27, 2017 (12:00 pm)

    I wondered about the homeless camps in the area. If there were a leak, butane will pool in the lower areas. Then I saw the SPD tweet.

    SPD/WSP conducting safety evacuation of encampments under I-5, extinguishing campfires, following crash

    • enviromaven February 27, 2017 (2:52 pm)

      I guess this explains why Airport Way So. was closed northbound.  Thanks!

  • JanS February 27, 2017 (12:10 pm)

    am trying to imagine people diverted to WS, and not familiar with the area, and how to get back out (perhaps via 99 north), especially with those not familiar with Seattle and West Seattle in general, just passing through. Glad everyone got out of the accident OK…

    • dsa February 27, 2017 (12:14 pm)

      I think it meant to read diverting to the WS bridge and missing the exit to SODO.

  • LAH February 27, 2017 (12:14 pm)

    Just got a message that the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal is closed until further notice.  Any idea what’s happening?


    • WSB February 27, 2017 (12:15 pm)

      Yes, I’m publishing a separate story about this and we’re also sending someone to the dock. Mechanical issue.

  • AMD February 27, 2017 (1:07 pm)

    Apparently a taco truck stuck in the traffic opened for business to feed the hungry folks stuck on 1-5.

    • AJ February 27, 2017 (1:31 pm)

      That is awesome. Hungry people fed and a great business day for the taco truck. 

    • Alki Resident February 27, 2017 (2:50 pm)

      Absolutely wonderful.

  • Alan February 27, 2017 (2:06 pm)

    I’m surprised that traffic wasn’t forced off at exits or turned around and sent out via the on-ramps, since this was obviously going to be long process. Hopefully, there was also a Honeybucket truck stuck in the traffic.

  • Dave February 27, 2017 (2:33 pm)

    I agree that cars often change lanes (too close) in front of large trucks, however, I have been cut off by semis cutting across multiple lanes at the last second trying to make the southbound I5 exit to WS / Harbor Island. Requests to WSP have fallen on deaf ears probably because they are short staffed and tied up in the area dealing with homeless.

    • redblack February 27, 2017 (2:50 pm)

      there’s only about a mile of 4-lane freeway to get from the I-5 main lines on the left to the spokane st/6th ave S exits on the right. that’s what causes congestion in the area: merging over two or more lanes. i always leave room for others to merge and try to anticipate the big rigs that need to get over… while trying to merge myself.

      driving here is an art form. some people are just bad artists.

      and a +1 on the physics thingy mentioned above. unless i have the rare opportunity to check my blind spots by physically turning my head, i make sure that i can see others vehicles’ headlights in my mirrors before i change lanes.

      stay safe and good luck out there!

      • dave February 27, 2017 (3:16 pm)

        I try to look out for people who need to get over but once they are past the point of no return, I don’t expect a last minute cut off from 2 lanes to my left and with no blinker or indication of needing to get over from the I 90 area. I have a photo of a jackknifed semi trying to pull this stunt, in which the driver hit a passenger vehicle on June 18, 2013.


      • Dave February 27, 2017 (4:04 pm)

        Why can’t people just take the next exit vs clogging the area trying to merge over multiple lanes in less than a mile and all of the accident potential that entails? Use the roadway length heading south to safely exit at the next exit past WS / 6th Ave.

    • AMD February 27, 2017 (3:26 pm)

      This story is old and has nothing to do with today’s tanker accident.  It didn’t even occur on the same part of the freeway…

      • Dave February 27, 2017 (3:33 pm)

        It has to do with my point about how WSP hasn’t been able to enforce illegal behavior of semis and others making last minute manuvers in this area of I5 because they are tied up dealing with homeless.

        • Yup February 27, 2017 (4:21 pm)

          It certainly does tell a tale about the drain put on LEO resources by jungle inhabs..

        • miws February 27, 2017 (4:28 pm)

          Thanks for the clarification, Dave. For a second there I thought you were implying that some homeless people pushed the tanker truck over on its side. 


          • Dave February 27, 2017 (5:14 pm)

            Hi Mike. I think you are being friendly? :) Just thought I had to explain my earlier post for AMD. Hope I didn’t offend you, it’s just the reality of the situation.

            So, I am hearing reports this issue came about because the trucker was going too fast for conditions and hit 4 vehicles that had slowed.  Going on 7 hours one of the most busy freeway intersections in the US has been closed. I hope those responsible are held accountable.

Sorry, comment time is over.