FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge trouble spot remains a mystery

(SDOT camera image, October 25)

While asking SDOT some other questions, we inquired today about the most-recent checks of the westbound West Seattle Bridge where it meets the ramp from southbound Highway 99, scene of multiple crashes a few weeks back, and other reports of loss of some vehicle control at that spot. SDOT had said that it would use lane closures last week to investigate further. So we asked what, if anything, they found. Spokesperson Mariam Ali replied, “We did a closer look when we did night work last week. Everything looks in good shape. We will continue to monitor the area after each request.” (Here’s our report on their first “closer look” in October.) So if you have trouble in that spot, be sure to report it to SDOT, even if a crash doesn’t result – here’s how.

41 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge trouble spot remains a mystery"

  • Rhonda November 15, 2022 (10:05 pm)

    It’s like our own Bermuda Triangle right here in River City.

  • 1994 November 15, 2022 (10:08 pm)

    Maybe the SDOT should run a test in the middle of the night. Close the west bound lanes, have  several water tank trucks above the troubled location, let water run down over the troubled  locations, drive cars over the wet lanes and see if they can recreate the problems being reported….worth a try instead of ‘monitoring the area after each request’ as SDOT says…what are they monitoring? Waiting for more home videos to be shared? 

    • smoosh November 15, 2022 (10:41 pm)

      Or maybe people in RWD vehicles will learn to accelerate carefully and cautiously while being sure to not drive on wet solid road stripe paint on a camber.

      • Mark47n November 16, 2022 (4:54 am)

        Because you know it’s the driver, right? I’ve been driving RWD for a few decades now and never had this happen to me before. further, when this DID happen to me, at this spot, in my 8,000 pound truck with a few hundred pound over the read axles and AT tires, it was the front that broke free first, genius. I’ve also experienced it in my wife’s Honda AWD. Further, both times I was going a reasonable speed for the curve (I’ve driven it countless times in all conditions) and not on the paint.You know what they say about assumptions, right?

        • Honest question November 16, 2022 (9:28 am)

          But why is it happening to you and not the other thousands of vehicles that drive over the same spot every single day?Honest question. 

      • Marcus November 16, 2022 (5:39 am)

        Smoosh, there maybe a lot of truth in your RWD acceleration proposal.  That area is always prone to immediate lane changes and people accelerating for the hill climb.  It is odd that the accidents tend to occur on wet pavement and the SDOT evaluation was on dry pavement.  Duh!  Why don’t they just go out there and grind more groves in the pavement just to be sure.  Just to show good faith at the least

      • 22blades November 16, 2022 (12:10 pm)

        The Speed Limit on the High Span is 45 mph.The Caution Speed entering the 99 On-ramp is 20 mph.With a net loss of 25 mph, most, if not all, cars have 4 wheel braking. Not sure you need AWD to decelerate into the turn. 

        • Justin November 16, 2022 (12:49 pm)

          You should not decelerate into a turn. You should decelerate before the turn, then have the ability to accelerate into the turn if needed to keep control. Decelerating into a turn offers much less control.

          • 22blades November 16, 2022 (1:21 pm)

            C’mon, you know what I mean…🙄 Get a life… Besides, it’s INTO a turn. Not IN a turn. If you want to argue about handling, let’s talk about scrubbing speed off. Jeez…

        • Flivver November 16, 2022 (1:46 pm)

          22blades. The yellow speed signs are advisory only. Their intent is to suggest a speed if you feel the posted speed limit is more that you, or your car can safely handle.  

        • bill November 16, 2022 (3:19 pm)

          22blades: You’ve got the location wrong. The problem is with the ramp that enters the viaduct from 99 southbound. The advisory speed is 30 mph.

    • Reed November 16, 2022 (5:52 am)

      For this “test” they also need to drive 20 over the speed limit, and I guarantee they will find the problem.

      • Flivver November 16, 2022 (11:30 am)

        Reed. Can you share your facts that state 20 over the speed limit is ALWAYS the cause of EVERY accident. And share your facts that road design and maintenance are NEVER the cause of ANY accident.

        • K November 16, 2022 (1:31 pm)

          I’m always surprised by the comments on here demanding someone do research on their behalf, like its some kind of own, while misrepresenting what was originally said. 

  • bill November 15, 2022 (10:19 pm)

    Wasn’t it bone dry last week? Why would a problem associated with rain be detectible? Did SDOT wet down the pavement and the spokesperson not mention that? WSB, these questions need to be asked.

    • flimflam November 16, 2022 (7:02 am)

      Nah, so much easier for SDOT this way!

  • Watertowerjim November 16, 2022 (6:03 am)

    I thought only engineers could comment on things that involve engineering?  Remember way back when questioning anything was frowned upon unless you were in that field(and in some cases were a doctor)?  I do.  

    • Neighbor November 17, 2022 (2:30 am)

      Huh?  Rubes have commented on things since forever.  If you think the comment section on a public blog is a reliable source of information that says a lot more about your lack of judgement than anyone else’s expertise.  Do you ask fellow bus riders for the meaning of life?  Do better with your time.

  • Anne November 16, 2022 (7:36 am)

    SDOT took a closer look at that area again last week —when it was totally dry!!How the heck can they learn anything that way??  Just wait for the next incident & pray no one is seriously injured or killed?? 

  • Ken November 16, 2022 (8:38 am)

    Is there any reason why they can’t grind or otherwise create a surface on that side of the bridge in the same manner they did on the west side? Did they really only think that vehicles on the west end would need better traction? It seems a simple enough fix if SDOT was truly interested in being proactive about it and reducing/eliminating future mishaps.

    • Neighbor November 17, 2022 (2:33 am)

      Sounds like a great way to kill motorcyclists.  How about not doing things until the problem is understood.  Do you also vote for every tax increase?

  • HarbourIslandworker November 16, 2022 (8:53 am)

    I wonder if it might have anything to do with the new tensioning system that is in the bridge…
    The slightest change in the bridges ability to flex in wet conditions might be causing this…

  • Jethro Marx November 16, 2022 (8:57 am)

    People can be a bit funny about their driving.  An alternate headline for this story: Bad drivers come up with wild ideas to address car crashes that are Definitely Not Their Fault.

    • bill November 16, 2022 (9:14 am)

      Except we are not suddenly seeing multiple crashes or losses of control in other places. The bridge is not the only place people drive poorly.

      • BadDriver November 16, 2022 (11:27 am)

        We are simply not hearing about multiple crashes or losses of control at other sites.  
        This does not mean that groupings of accidents  do not occur.  I
        f we look at all the videos compiled, we see that many of the incidents do not occur at the same spot, i.e. the on ramp from 99.  Some vehicles are on that on ramp, but many others are not.  
        To round up all of the various bad driving examples and post a video does not prove a fault in the roadway, especially since many are not driving on the on ramp.  
        The truck in the left lane shown is a great example, a truck going to fast, hits the standing water along the shoulder of the left lane, takes their foot off the gas and looses traction.  
        If the truck were traveling according to conditions and its driver did not panic, the skid could have been avoided.  
        Several other incidents show vehicles crossing the solid white lines, illegally ‘merging’ to the on ramp’s lane to avoid traffic.
        Further if there existed an actual design fault or physical cause, we would be seeing hundreds or thousands of accidents in precisely the same spot.  

      • Conrad November 17, 2022 (6:31 am)

        Yes we are.  Every day I see some example of a car flipped over or crashed into something that makes no sense..  Gee I wonder how that happened.  It’s driver error. 

  • Barton November 16, 2022 (9:34 am)

    You naysayers that keep insisting it’s just reckless driving are clearly trolling at this point (coincidentally it’s the usual anti-car crowd).  Don’t feed the trolls.

    • Jethro Marx November 16, 2022 (2:16 pm)

      No trolling required, so far commenters have suggested possible crash causes and/or solutions including:
      1. Newly tensioned concrete reinforcement causes change to laws of physics
      2. Grinding grooves in the pavement
      3. Parking one or more water trucks over the spot/Testing something while trucks full of concrete drive over the bridge
      4. Vague SDOT conspiracies/ineptitude
      5. Taking the road conditions into account, slowing down until your wheels retain traction
      6. Concrete has absorbed chicken grease
      Oh, and also some kind of Bermuda Triangle situation. 

      But yeah, we better watch out for the nutjobs insisting on the likelihood of simple and logical explanations to normal yet coincidental occurrences.

      • WS Res November 16, 2022 (8:05 pm)

        … “chicken grease”…  

  • Johnny Smith November 16, 2022 (9:54 am)

    This department (SDOT) gets how much money annually in the budget and they can’t figure out a simple solution and are in denial that there is even an issue after multiple wrecks in slippery conditions in only that specific portion of the bridge? They could literally soak that portion of the road with a water and then test it with a vehicle or better yet go analyze it in live time when it’s rains heavily again but use test vehicles to drive over it. Looking at it won’t do any good, they need to first hand test drive over it when there is standing water or at the very least heavy rain all day! There weren’t this many accidents in that stretch of the bridge / on ramp before the bridge closure so obviously something changed and no it’s not someone just driving too fast as many here have tried to conclude. SMH. 

  • BadDriver November 16, 2022 (11:53 am)

    I guess I am trolling for those mistaking correlation for cause.  
    There are tens of thousands of drivers using that on ramp daily through all conditions.  If every time it rained heavily and this section was a cause, there would be hundreds of incidents. 
    I am a driver with a 15 year old truck.
    I have driven the on ramp multiple times since and during the accident period.  
    With heavy rains, sheeting on the pavement, I drive at or below the speed limit and adjust as required for conditions.  
    No loss of traction, no hydroplaning, no problem.  
    My experiences rebuke the ‘not going too fast’ arguments.  
    If drivers were not going too fast for the conditions, they would not have lost control.  
    Speed is ALWAYS a cause.

    • Neighbor November 17, 2022 (2:38 am)

      You made a bunch of assumptions then reassured yourself that you are right.  You don’t pass a phone screen in my world.  If your misguided assumptions hold then you are right.  The rest of us live in reality.  Please stick to what you can demonstrate.

  • revilo November 16, 2022 (12:22 pm)

    It’s not a mystery.  All the run off from when the contractor was staged on the bridge dripping oil, solvents, chicken grease, etc pooled up at the low spot(s).  This grim was allowed to sit and slowly overtime absorb into the concrete – which is porous.  It will take awhile to excrete but over time it will.  And that slick spot is no joke.  As a professional driver it has gotten me fishing tailing a couple times.

  • 22blades November 16, 2022 (12:51 pm)

    There might be a better scheme to limit aggressive & late “mergers” in heavy traffic. In light traffic, all the skid marks on THE WALL indicates a little faster entry speed than 20 mph.

    • 22blades November 16, 2022 (1:09 pm)

      Run a line of Jersey Barriers on the South Edge of the Bus Lane from the highest elevation to make traffic commit earlier & post the appropriate signage. I think narrower lanes also slow people down. Wide open streets like the High Span or Admiral Way encourages speeding.

      • bill November 16, 2022 (3:23 pm)

        Again 22, you’re looking at the wrong location.

  • Odd son November 16, 2022 (3:31 pm)

    Where is the slick spot? On the bridge or the on-ramp lane? I see comments about both areas. In the video posted last time, I saw vehicles spinning out briefly in one of the bridge lanes. They were only going a few miles an hour because traffic was stopped for an accident. Speed definitely plays a role but when video shows vehicles spinning out going 5/10 mph, that’s more than reasonable compared to the speed limit and makes me feel there’s a bigger issue. Never any accidents in that area that I can recall going back to 2000.

  • Peter November 16, 2022 (5:15 pm)

    The overwhelming majority of drivers are really, really terrible at driving. There’s no deeper mystery to this. Most drivers are putting lives at risk due to their own incompetence, but rather than admit they are too dangerous to drive, they desperately blame the city for problems they cause. 

  • Rick November 16, 2022 (6:18 pm)

    Just break the damn bridge, close it and be done with it!

  • Cascadiarocks November 17, 2022 (11:34 am)

    Am I to understand that this is a new phenomenon? Thought I recalled this being an issue before the bridge closure.

  • Moses S. November 22, 2022 (1:45 pm)

    Just saw another crash right here! FedEx truck slid into side barrier then rolled toba stop. Luckily damaged seemed minor and no injuries.

Sorry, comment time is over.