UPDATE: SW Genesee closed for 6+ hours after steel balls spill from truck

4:53 PM: Thanks for the tips! Those are forged-steel balls and bags full of them fell out of a truck on the SW Genesee hill east of Avalon, which is currently closed westbound as a result from 26th on up. We’d advise avoiding the area both ways for a while.

4:59 PM: Our crew at the scene says that these are heavy items – check the inscription on the bags:

So SDOT is trying to figure out how to clean up the ones that spilled. Some have rolled into vehicles parked in the area.

7:11 PM: Cleanup is under way – and both sides are blocked, we’re told – thanks for this texted photo:

Your co-publishers are embedded at community events tonight, so we appreciate an update (in comments preferably) if you notice the road has reopened before we get word of it!

8:50 PM: Just went by. Still closed.

10:06 PM: Scanner traffic indicates getting the truck off the hill will involve some backing up and potentially a temporary Delridge closure, so heads up on that.

11:23 PM: After more than six hours, the truck and balls are gone. We’ll do our best to follow up on whether any citation was issued.

89 Replies to "UPDATE: SW Genesee closed for 6+ hours after steel balls spill from truck"

  • Swede. October 17, 2018 (5:15 pm)

    Holy balls!
    That’s not the way to roll!

    • Rose October 17, 2018 (5:28 pm)

      That driver really went balls to the wall

  • heartless October 17, 2018 (5:16 pm)

    Normally that hill only takes balls of steel when it’s icy out…

  • T October 17, 2018 (5:23 pm)


  • Mypatience October 17, 2018 (5:23 pm)

    People took video! I hope they post it.

  • heylady October 17, 2018 (5:25 pm)

    They were on their way to the Democrats in DC.

    • just wondering October 17, 2018 (7:14 pm)

      Actually it’s the Republicans who need them in DC!

  • Cranky Westie October 17, 2018 (5:25 pm)

    Nothing to see here: Just a Glitch in the MATRIX.

  • Kat October 17, 2018 (5:26 pm)

    What is the helicopter for though?

  • KEK October 17, 2018 (5:26 pm)

    I drive that street daily and at least twice a month I get stuck behind a stalled semi on that hill. Seems like they should restrict that road from semis. Maybe Nucor should advise their drivers that the grade is too steep on Genesee?

    • Neighbor October 17, 2018 (7:32 pm)

      Nucor makes rebar, so these must be someone else’s balls.

      • mark47n October 18, 2018 (4:39 am)

        These balls are for a grinding mill, basically a large rotating cylinder where you put raw material in with these balls to reduce the material, like limestone, to powder. You’d see them in facilities like Lafarge (when they were still making cement) and Ashgrove, though other processes exist that use grinding mills.

        Nucor has no grinding mill of any kind.

        It does seem strange to transport these in a van. I’d hope they were secured, somehow. It looks like the scars shifted and blew the door frame out.

  • Lynne Aspin October 17, 2018 (5:27 pm)

    They were on their way to the Democrats in DC.

    • MrsT October 17, 2018 (7:59 pm)

      Thanks for the laugh!

  • WSB Rocks October 17, 2018 (5:30 pm)

    Does anyone know what steel balls are used for? Also, is this why there was a helicopter out just a few minutes ago?

  • Gina Karaba October 17, 2018 (5:31 pm)

    I felt these fall out of the truck way up on 23rd Avenue SW!my house was shaking like crazy!!!

  • just wondering October 17, 2018 (5:35 pm)

    Anybody got a big magnet?

  • cjboffoli October 17, 2018 (5:36 pm)

    OK. Now I feel like I’ve seen EVERYTHING on the West Seattle Blog.

  • OnGraham October 17, 2018 (5:37 pm)

    We were 3 cars behind this truck when it spilled. At least 2 of the cars ahead of us were damaged by the balls as they bounced down the hill. I don’t think anyone was injured thankfully, but very bizarre!

  • Lagartija Nick October 17, 2018 (5:45 pm)

    I live on Genesee and 26th. This happens at least once a month on that hill. Very frustrating for those of us that live here. I know that this stretch of Genesee isn’t a designated truck route. But there are no street signs indicating that. Tracy, do you know if the trucks are fined if they attempt that hill and can’t make it?

  • Scott October 17, 2018 (5:53 pm)

    you can’t even navigate through the neighborhood because of the bottlenecks on narrow streets……Not the first time I’ve witnessed semi trucks having trouble on that hill. The last time it started to roll back….. towards me……. glad I stay way back on that hill.

  • AMD October 17, 2018 (5:56 pm)

    Dear SDoT:

    • The King October 17, 2018 (7:11 pm)

      hahaha. The old Wile E. Coyote Acme roadrunner steel ball trap.

      • wscommuter October 18, 2018 (9:06 am)

        Best comment on this event. You win. Give that man some steel balls.

  • A-Red October 17, 2018 (6:06 pm)

    Truck nutz?

    • Victoria October 18, 2018 (10:11 pm)

      😂😂😂😂 good one flank steak!

  • joan October 17, 2018 (6:18 pm)


  • Russ Walker October 17, 2018 (6:24 pm)

    Are they a Nucor product??

    • mark47n October 18, 2018 (4:40 am)


  • Benjamin Pulanco October 17, 2018 (6:52 pm)

    Cleanup is started.

  • AT October 17, 2018 (7:00 pm)

    Is there a Crossfit gym nearby that can help?


    • Lynda Bui October 17, 2018 (9:12 pm)

      Best comment I’ve seen! :)

    • Swede. October 18, 2018 (5:38 am)

      Actually there is!

    • LJ October 18, 2018 (4:13 pm)

      My first thought, actually!

  • Friend O'Dinghus October 17, 2018 (7:00 pm)

    West Seattle: Home of the big steel balls!

  • David Harris October 17, 2018 (7:21 pm)

    We were headed down the hill, and saw the first balls hit the road just as we were about to come level with the truck. What a crazy ride. Thank god we were going downhill (and therefore about the same speed as the thousands of balls rolling around us) and not stuck in the line of fire like the uphill folks.

  • 22blades October 17, 2018 (7:23 pm)

    Enclosed but unsecured load. Those doors and latches are no match few hundred heavy forged balls rolling back at 20 mph. Aren’t CDL’d drivers ultimately responsible for the loads they carry (don’t just blame the forklift driver)?

  • David Goshorn October 17, 2018 (7:25 pm)

    The steel balls are used in something called a ball mill – a piece of equipment common in steel production and mining. It is a large rotating drum filled with the balls which come in a variety of sizes. The ball mill is used to grind up ore for refining (mining), size coal or gravel, or remove slag from steel.

    Retired Lube Engineer

    • WSB October 17, 2018 (7:29 pm)

      Co-publisher Patrick looked into that and came up with the same conclusion – thanks for the verification. Everything can be an educational experience!

    • sw October 17, 2018 (8:33 pm)

      Good to know. Now what exactly was a truckload of them doing in Genesee?

      • Octo-eyes October 18, 2018 (8:32 am)

        I ordered them from Amazon.

        • Jack's Bowls October 18, 2018 (11:49 am)


        • Alice October 19, 2018 (7:34 pm)


    • Swede. October 18, 2018 (5:37 am)

      Thank you for that info!
      Thought it was something along those lines myself. Must been on the way to Nucor since we don’t have a bunch of other places that uses rolling mills that can hold all those do we?

      • mark47n October 18, 2018 (9:40 am)

        Nucor doesn’t have a ball mill.

  • valvashon October 17, 2018 (7:37 pm)

    “I’d like 10,000 marbles please!”

    • T October 17, 2018 (8:20 pm)

      Lol Val

    • At October 17, 2018 (10:02 pm)

      BIG Marbles. Please

  • Joan October 17, 2018 (7:39 pm)

    Where did they stop? Delridge? Longfellow Creek? Or didn’t they make it all the way down?

  • Cory October 17, 2018 (7:42 pm)

    Komo has video – crazy!! https://komonews.com/news/local/2-lb-balls-spilled-on-busy-seattle-street

  • dianeseattle October 17, 2018 (7:50 pm)

    I’ve been in bed today because of a bad cold. But I heard the helicopters around 5 ish. And they never seemed to go away. I looked on KIRO and KING and KOMO and saw no news reports, though my neighbors tell me that they did have it on the news early. My bedroom is about a hundred feet away from ground zero on Genesee where the truck lost its load. I didn’t bother to jump up and look because the sound that it made was like somebody was dragging a dumpster along on the street. There’s tons of construction & demolition here. I didn’t feel called upon to look into it because I just didn’t have the energy. Like most people who live around here, I’m very very used to accidents fires everything on Genesee itself and it seems to me that this is the main emergency route used by the fire department. This is the third accident I’ve seen in 1 week and I was out of town for 2 days! And I can confirm the other comments about the big trucks that are always unable to get up Genesee after it’s rained just one time. I can’t figure out why a semi-truck-tractor-trailer-rig is even allowed anywhere in West Seattle. But if they are allowed it should only be on the major streets.

    • WSB October 17, 2018 (7:56 pm)

      Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. But when it comes to local news, always look here first!

      • dianeseattle October 17, 2018 (8:45 pm)

        When it comes to WS news, the WS blog is my pick, down by law. But today when the helicopters came, nothing was in my news feed so I did a broad Google search. most of the results listed WSB, but were from August & September. I thought those might be news copters, yes? Would make a great visual. Anyway, I can’t express my infinite regard for WSB, Seattle’s best source for classic, true journalism.

        They’re still out there on Genesee, scooping up the cannonballs with what sounds like coal shovels.

        • dianeseattle October 17, 2018 (8:55 pm)

          Oops allow me to correct myself! HUGE NOISE just now so I ran to the window. A front end loader was scooping up a lot of the steel balls and dumping them into a dump truck. 30th Avenue Southwest Genesee and other streets leading toward Delridge are still closed to traffic. I think they’re going to be out there for a while.

          • miws October 18, 2018 (8:36 am)

            That had to be LOUD! —-Mike

  • Friend O'Dinghus October 17, 2018 (7:53 pm)

    As seen on the West Seattle Blog:
    Retired Lube Engineer shares what big steel balls are all about.

    • sw October 17, 2018 (8:34 pm)

      You win the internet today.

  • sw October 17, 2018 (7:54 pm)

    This is the best thread we’ve had in ages.

    • Sandal45 October 17, 2018 (8:34 pm)

      Agreed!! Refreshing

  • Pdieter October 17, 2018 (8:27 pm)

    Ball sacks hitting the pavement is never good

    • Fiz October 18, 2018 (7:58 am)

      Mic drop.

  • T October 17, 2018 (8:30 pm)

    A semi got stuck at the base of the hill a few months ago and WSB coverd it. IIRC the driver was cited.

  • Quora October 17, 2018 (8:53 pm)

    I’m upper, upper class high society
    God’s gift to ballroom notoriety
    And I always fill my ballroom
    The event is never small
    All the social papers say I’ve got the biggest balls of all

    I’ve got big balls
    I’ve got big balls
    And they’re such big balls
    Dirty big balls
    And he’s got big balls,
    And she’s got big balls,
    But we’ve got the biggest balls of them all!

    And my balls are always bouncing
    My ballroom always full
    And everybody comes and comes again
    If your name is on the guest list
    No one can take you higher
    Everybody says I’ve got great balls of fire!

    I’ve got big balls
    I’ve got big balls
    And they’re such big balls
    Dirty big balls
    And he’s got big balls,
    And she’s got big balls,
    But we’ve got the biggest balls of them all!

    Some balls are held for charity
    And some…

  • Cecelia October 17, 2018 (8:56 pm)

    As we were coming home tonight there was a very large payloader with escort heading down delridge. We were joking maybe its going to cleanup the mess and then it turned down Genesee so maybe they are making progress.

  • Joseph October 17, 2018 (9:19 pm)

    Seems the driver lost his bearings.

  • Mark October 17, 2018 (9:19 pm)

    I just got done walking by there around 9pm or so and they still have the entire street closed from Avalon although way down to 26th Ave. Bunch of cleanup trucks that I can hear right now.

    What a mess, thankfully no one got injured as that could of been quite bad.

  • McFail October 17, 2018 (9:21 pm)

    So these balls are a penny on amazon.com. I only need one but bought 3,500 to qualify for free shipping. Can I just go down there and pickup just the one?

  • JO October 17, 2018 (9:42 pm)

    “Trying to figure out how to clean up”
    I suppose picking them up by hand is not an option. I mean, they weigh two pounds each.

    • mark47n October 18, 2018 (4:53 am)

      I don’t know where you’re getting 2 pounds each but a 6″ diameter steel ball weighs more than 2 pounds each. If there are ~100 in a sack that weighs 2 metric tons (4408lbs) then they weigh in at about 50 pounds apiece. I may be generous in how many there are in a sack, though.

      • Chuck Jacobs October 18, 2018 (7:43 am)

        I recovered one of the balls which wasn’t picked up. My kitchen scale reads 5 lbs, 1/4 oz.

        • mark47n October 18, 2018 (9:42 am)

          That’s pretty light for steel given that steel weighs in at .2904 lbs per cubic inch. I’m having a hard time with scale in the photos. What is the diameter?

          • Chuck Jacobs October 18, 2018 (2:50 pm)

            2272 grams
            3.25 inches diameter (82.55 mm)
            Volume = 17.97 cubic inches or 294.48 cubic cm
            Density = 7.715 grams per cubic centimeter

    • 56bricks October 19, 2018 (8:15 pm)

      Will need to form a committee to study it and appoint a panel to observe the committee while the said steel balls are held for observation by experts. A full,extensive and accountable report will be issued…never.

  • Jen October 17, 2018 (10:11 pm)

    still closed! Glad no one got hurt. I think the city should look at resurfacing that hill—I have skid out on that road and have seen many others as well. It wouldn’t have helped this problem, but it is dangerous even for regular cars.

    • Trickycoolj October 17, 2018 (11:19 pm)

      They did try… the grinding machine got stuck on the incline!

  • T October 17, 2018 (10:42 pm)

    The 2 pound balls bouncing down the hill could have killed someone (strike to the head). I hope the company and driver realize the potential here.

  • Mark October 17, 2018 (11:12 pm)

    11:15pm I can still here them doing clean up, backup sounds etc.

  • Lagartija Nick October 17, 2018 (11:15 pm)

    7 hours later and it’s finally clear.

    • WSB October 17, 2018 (11:22 pm)

      Thanks! Heard that on the scanner and saw SDOT’s tweet just now, but the firsthand report is most valuable.

  • Scott October 17, 2018 (11:18 pm)

    I wish I’d stayed and watched…. maybe I’d have come up with something as clever as all the comments here. Who knew a guy with steel balls could be the butt of so many great lines? Thank you WSB!

  • Trickycoolj October 17, 2018 (11:21 pm)

    What is it with semis taking tiny neighborhood streets lately? Yesterday I got to watch a full flat bed semi heading for Home Depot navigate the hairpin downhill at 20th and Webster. Whoever lives on that turn that’s why there’s 18-wheeler tracks in your yard. It was ridiculous but not quite as over the top as the Genesee Ball Hauler.

  • Lola October 18, 2018 (6:31 am)

    WSB. Anytime I cannot find something on the news or anywhere else I log onto the WSB to find out. You guys are great with your reporting. Thank you.

  • sam-c October 18, 2018 (8:18 am)

    Just curious- about what time did it actually happen?
    I see the story was posted at 4:54

    Heard something really loud nearby a couple hours earlier and never determined the cause.

    • Speed October 18, 2018 (9:05 pm)


      I took the 4:05 Water Taxi home from downtown which would have put me at the scene at around 4:30. It looked like it had just happened.

      • WSB October 18, 2018 (10:06 pm)

        That’s about when we started getting texts about it. Co-publisher P headed to check out the report of balls rolling downhill, then as usual with breaking news, once he had a photo and a bit of info he sent it to me. One of those things that didn’t initially look like something that would close a semi-major street for 6+ hours!

  • T October 18, 2018 (8:15 pm)

    $136 fine for the driver.

  • Alice October 19, 2018 (7:30 pm)

    How is this not an April Fool’s post??? Seriously, that headline reads like the beginning of a bad joke.

    I all sorry that this accident was real.

  • “X” October 20, 2018 (4:10 pm)

    Can you just imagine if it were thirty thousand pounds of bananas? This is my take… “During rush hours when a semi started up SW Genny to the Junction. Trucker’s GPS said “Go ahead, Dude, c’mon, show me some attitude,” when all of a sudden, Dude realized he was in deep chit beause he didn’t secure his load’s consumption. Thirty thousand pounds of steel-forging balls zipping loosely, hitting cars and then some…” WS Blog stated to stay clear of SW Genny & Avalon until the fleeing steel ball situation was happily resolved, all clear to get go the Junction” … -CLM aka XINDERS 2018

Sorry, comment time is over.