WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Westbound trouble spot resurfaces

Trouble again in the area where the ramp from southbound Highway 99 meets the westbound West Seattle Bridge. You’ll recall at least four crashes there about a week and a half ago. Then at 9:40 pm Thursday night, a crash was reported in the same general area. No good visual – the SDOT traffic-control center never moved the high-rise camera. But we’re making note of it as just now, dispatch said the SDOT incident-response team is headed to that spot to address an “oil slick” that apparently has affected other drivers, and may have to temporarily close the ramp to work on it.

54 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Westbound trouble spot resurfaces"

  • N in Seattle November 4, 2022 (1:04 am)

    Came upon this scene while returning from the Symphony. It looked like there were about three vehicles involved. One lane of traffic was able to sneak past the carnage.

    No idea how it happened. By the time we got there, at least one vehicle was already on the tow truck.

  • ADAM November 4, 2022 (1:58 am)

    I called SDOT emergency dispatch tonight at 12:30 am because when I was driving home from downtown to WS at about 12:15 am I got to the middle of that ramp and lost all traction for a few seconds. It was exactly what people were explaining previously when I was reading about the accidents.  Thankfully I wasn’t going too fast and I have an all wheel drive vehicle. I am also quite experienced driving on icy roads and didn’t panic so was able to keep from hitting the side of the ramp. If I had hit my breaks I’m pretty sure that is what would have happened. Dispatch said that they had an issue earlier in the night in the same spot and that a bus driver had also complained about that spot. This is quite disturbing. How, if there was an accident at 940pm and a bus driver also complained about this location, was the ramp still open and or not cleaned up 3 hours later? Someone is going to be seriously injured or killed here. Is this someone purposely dumping oil on the ramp? I don’t quite understand because it seems like the issue is not being properly addressed.  

  • Slippery-When -Wet November 4, 2022 (5:25 am)

    Adam mentions a typical false assumption of ‘all wheel drive’ vehicle drivers- that they have enhanced stopping.  
    There is no difference once traction is lost between front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, four wheel drive and all wheel drive!  
    All vehicles have brakes on all four wheels, so there is no advantage to all wheel drive for stopping or gaining control of a hydroplaning, skidding car.  
    The other factor rarely mentioned, is that speed is the cause.
    The posted warning MPH of the ramp is 30 MPH.  
    In inclement weather or wet roadways, State Law  reduces the speed by 10 MPH.  
    So that would be 20 MPH on the ramp. 
    Thousands of vehicles safely navigate that ramp everyday.  
    Drive according to conditions, adjusting to wet slippery roadways with reduced speed is the key to staying safely in your lane.

    • Chemist November 4, 2022 (10:11 am)

      Can you please provide the citation to this rain and reduce speed by 10 mph law you reference?  That’s a bit more exact than laws I’ve read.

    • Neighbor November 4, 2022 (12:45 pm)

      Did you read Adam’s post? They clearly said they were not driving fast and didn’t step on their brakes. The benefit of all wheel drive is maintaining control when individual wheels lose traction. There’s a big difference in capability between front, rear, all, and four wheel drives. It’s not as simple as you make it sound.

    • Emerald16 November 4, 2022 (1:54 pm)

      Adam didn’t say anything about enhanced stopping due to all-wheel drive, he said it helped him maintain control.  In fact, if you read closely, he didn’t hit his brakes. An all-wheel drive car with good stability control absolutely can help you maintain control in slippery conditions. Your declaration that speed is always the problem is not based in reality.  

      • Slippery When Wet November 4, 2022 (3:48 pm)

        Any two wheel drive modern car equipped with stability control also helps after sensing loss of traction, same as Adam’s all wheel drive.  
        Both are computer applied braking of individual wheels.  
        And regarding hitting the brakes, not hitting the brakes is the wrong thing to do when you have stability control.  
        It is best to slam on the brakes to allow the computer to do its magic. 
        But, without speed, any accident is impossible. It takes speed i.e.movement of a mass to create the energy transfer of an accident. 

        • Emerald16 November 5, 2022 (1:37 am)

          “Any two wheel drive modern car” can help after sensing loss of traction, but it can’t help as much as an AWD.   Stability control in AWD is more than just computer-applied braking of individual wheels; it’s also changing the ratio of power between the front and rear wheels, which is helpful.  In 2WD the power on one set of wheels is always 0.  And no, slamming on the brakes is not the right answer in all situations.  You’re just dying to tell someone they did the wrong thing no matter what they say.  And somehow, without even knowing the situation, you can magically tell that Adam was driving too fast, which leads us to your brilliant observation that “without speed, any accident is impossible.”  Fantastic insight, einstein.  I shall maintain a speed of 0 from now on.

        • Wseattleite November 5, 2022 (8:53 am)

          What?  Slamming on the brakes is the best thing to do?  You have discredited anything you have to say about best driving practices.  

  • 22blades November 4, 2022 (5:59 am)

    That could have bad on a motorcycle or scooter at the suggested speed much less the limit.

    • Scootergirl November 4, 2022 (7:19 pm)

      Agreed. I ride my Vespa to work in SoDo. When it rains I’ve been taking the lower bridge, I’m not going to risk it!

  • Admiralty November 4, 2022 (7:27 am)

    There is something up with that spot. As I crept by last night, just a little after the accident, my traction control kicked in for a second or two and my car slid a bit. I was going at most 15 mph, have a brand new car (with new tires), and AWD.

  • Adam November 4, 2022 (7:43 am)

    On my way home last night (and a cpl times since the reopening) I’ve taken that exit from 99 onto the bridge. Even at regular or even slowish speeds my dash will light up with the traction control light, telling me I’ve lost traction. There’s def something wrong at that point in the road because it happens regardless of weather. I have upgraded tires meant to hold in that type of situation, tires are siped as well for added traction, and it happens too easily. I wish those pavement grooves on the new portions were added throughout. You can tell when it transitions from the old to the new surfaces that there are big differences in traction 

    • Slippery When Wet November 5, 2022 (9:29 am)

      Siping tires is a gimmick that most reputable tire shops no longer offer.  
      Discount Tire has stopped sipping but I saw the ‘service’ advertised at Les Schwab.  
      It is a waste of money, detrimental to tires and does not improve wet weather traction.
      Siped tires have been tested by independent testing services  like Consumer Reports.  
      The reputable tests, report no improvement in wet weather traction.
      They point out that if tire sipping worked the tire manufactures would be siping their tires. 
      But tire companies do not sipe and some warm that siping will void the tread wear warranty of their tires. 

  • Needing clarity November 4, 2022 (8:16 am)

    WSB, can you clarify for me, or post a map image of the exact location this is happening?  I think it is just as you merge into the bridge, West bound, from the 1st Avenue on ramp?  

  • Peter S. November 4, 2022 (8:28 am)

    I wonder if there’s a connection to areas that have been resurfaced or repaired in conjunction with the bridge reopening?  I took the Admiral Way off-ramp from the bridge on Wednesday afternoon and lost traction THREE times on that curve.  The whole thing happened in slow motion and it was downright spooky.  Managed to maintain directional control enough to avoid either curb, so I wasn’t speeding.  I’ve never had any problems on that curve before other than when large bodies of standing water, due to clogged drains, were an obstacle.  Have they changed the groove orientation or done something different with these new surfaces? 

    • WSB November 4, 2022 (9:47 am)

      SDOT’s reply to our previous followup inquiry said *no* work was done in that spot while the bridge was closed. We were on the bridge several times during the closure and that is not an area in which we ever saw work.

  • Chemist November 4, 2022 (8:46 am)

    I wonder if the drains in that area were plugged during the closure and a slippery “biofilm” developed on the pavement without significant traffic…  there’s often a lot of grass growing out the drain grates along this route.

  • Monica lundberg November 4, 2022 (8:52 am)

    SDOT needs to take this seriously!! And not just wait to hear about accidents! Be proactive with our lives!! And send inspectors down there when it’s raining!! Immediately.
    The response/quote from last week about waiting for accidents was unacceptable.

  • Rick November 4, 2022 (8:56 am)

    Sounds like the West Seattle Vortex is branching out.

  • Alki Dad November 4, 2022 (9:06 am)

    I hit the same slick area around 8:30 in the evening last night, with the traction loss starting more towards the start of the turn than down towards the bottom.  Our Subaru’s backend was trying to slide around and go past the front end.

  • Julian November 4, 2022 (9:17 am)

    I ride my motorcycle through that ramp regularly. Dry it’s never an issue; wet I only had an issue exiting the ramp when I twisted the throttle a bit too much causing my back wheel to start sliding out. I easily recovered thankfully. Yesterday evening I rode through that ramp while it was raining and it was a non issue. Driving 30mph as the sign placed at the entrance to the ramp states does wonders.

  • Well Ya ! November 4, 2022 (10:47 am)

    Monica – How do you know the city isn’t looking at this spot. Do you watch it ?As for the spot, you know it hasn’t rained in months and there is a build up of something or another. But you also need to think about the weather now. Everyone is used to the driving the West Marginal 500 and now that the bridge is open, and the weather is upon us everyone needs to slow down. Everyone else’s life is in danger because you have the need for speed. Slow it down before you get in the corner, not in the corner.And I am very glad the bridge is open. Now our neighborhood can get back to normal and not have to worry about speeding traffic ALL DAY LONG !!!!!!

    • flimflam November 4, 2022 (12:31 pm)

      DOT already looked and said, “ huh, no idea why this is happening.” That’s that….

      • Well ya November 4, 2022 (11:40 pm)

        So you called dot or know someone that works there.  Another arm chair bystander. Amen

    • Admirality November 4, 2022 (1:27 pm)

      This has nothing to do with speed. There have been at least 5 accidents at that exact spot within days of each other and countless reports of sliding without any speeding involved. Your argument about speed simply isn’t supported by the facts. It is more likely then not that something is physically wrong with the road in that section.

  • Sam November 4, 2022 (11:36 am)

    Wasn’t this the spot where a motorcyclist lost his life going over the side, before the bridge closure

  • N in Seattle November 4, 2022 (11:51 am)

    Further reflections after reading the comments:

    I don’t think the ramp from 99 South is the problem. The crashed vehicles were 100 yards or more west of where the ramp joins the Bridge roadway, and the curve at the top of the ramp already slows traffic coming down it. In addition, it’s clearly not a merge situation — the ramp lane continues.

    Which is not to say that I know why the problem exists. Maybe the cars already on the the Bridge road are surprised that cars are coming down from their right side and hit their brakes. Really, though, no one should be braking at that merge point.

    • bill November 4, 2022 (9:14 pm)

      “No one should be braking at that merge point.” Haha, tell us another joke. We’re talking Washington drivers here. When I first moved to the state there were still drivers who stopped at the end of freeway on ramps, waiting for an opening. That was a long time ago; pretty much all of those people are dead now, for one reason or another.

  • DrivesLikeAGranny November 4, 2022 (12:21 pm)

    Was coming back on WS Bridge about 11:15 am, and saw a pick-up truck that had just crashed in to the barrier in this spot. No raining, did not see any ponding water. 

  • Anxious on the Bus Now November 4, 2022 (12:38 pm)

    I would be curious if SDOT has formally given notice of the issue to Metro to have drivers slow down more than usual until it can be further assessed. I ride the bus daily and this issue is causing me anxiety each time riding home to the point I fear flying out of my seat on packed bus.

    • newnative November 4, 2022 (2:48 pm)

      I haven’t noticed any official change but the 56 I came home on yesterday afternoon (Thursday 4:49pm departure) definitely drove much slower than normal and the dispatch that came over told all drivers to drive slow. Other rides I have been on have taken that patch normally and yes, I get anxious about it too. The day of the bus collision, I complained that I nearly fell out of my seat due to the driver taking turns to fast. 

  • JS November 4, 2022 (1:09 pm)

    They really just need to get rid of that bus lane and keep it as a normal lane for all to use. 

    • newnative November 4, 2022 (2:44 pm)

      It’s not a bus lane, it’s a lane coming from 99 to westbound bridge. 

    • KBear November 4, 2022 (4:05 pm)

      There is no bus lane on the westbound side. And what they really need to do is keep the cars out of the bus lanes so that they work the way they’re intended.

  • Peg November 4, 2022 (1:28 pm)

    I was just driving the bridge eastbound and saw two cars pulled to the side of the road in that exact spot (going westbound). Couldn’t see any visible damage but assume it’s related.

  • Adam November 4, 2022 (1:30 pm)

    I was the second poster on this thread, coming home at 12:15am. Just to clarify I was not speeding, I was doing 25mph and completely lost traction. There is a serious issue going on here. It is not unsafe driving. It is an unsafe surface and it needs to be addressed. 

  • Dean W Fuller November 4, 2022 (1:39 pm)

    Starting at 1:01 is video coverage of the crashes and vehicles fishtailing at the trouble spot.https://youtu.be/XLzqEPcJyfE?t=61

    • bill November 4, 2022 (9:27 pm)

      Many of the sliding incidents involve trucks and SUVs that are rear wheel drive and lightly loaded in back. Not surprising that the drivers don’t know how to drive them.

    • Monica Lundberg November 5, 2022 (6:20 am)

      This video compilation is excellent and clearly shows problem areas. Thank you, Dean Fuller. Let’s get it addressed, SDOT. Please provide updates.

  • Local November 4, 2022 (1:50 pm)

    One more today about 1:15 right in front of me.  We were in the left lane headed uphill just after the onramp merge.  He spun out, hit the jersey barrier moderately, and came to a stop.  I was aware of previous problems so was driving cautiously.  We were all doing the speed limit, no speedy lane changes, etc.  

  • Gale November 4, 2022 (1:52 pm)

    I have a 2021 Ford Bronco and I had a pretty severe side slip going about 45 in the far left lane heading west just as I got to were 99 exit matches up with the bridge. I was ready for it since I ready this page often but I’m here to say it’s a legit weird thing. 

  • Slick on the joins November 4, 2022 (2:44 pm)

    @LOCAL thanks for the link to the video. It provides visual evidence of cars losing traction at several different spots within close proximity. It looks to me like it is like a case of tires slipping on the metal joins of which there are several at this point of the bridge. There are some on the ramp where I have experienced slipping before as well as on the bridge roadway just before and just after the ramp joins the bridge. The video provides evidence of slippage at all of these join points. That’s my guess.

  • Seattlite November 4, 2022 (3:20 pm)

    SDOT has a good excuse to close the ramp and reroute traffic the way it was when the entire bridge was closed.    SDOT,  if not twiddling their thumbs, should be able to diagnose and swiftly fix this problem….they are the supposed experts.   I have not had a problem in the area described in the blog’s article.  I drive on it weekly.

  • bolo November 4, 2022 (4:52 pm)

    I must be another outlier. Took that ramp last night a little before this reported crash. Purposefully and deliberately paid attention to the posted 30 MPH sign as best I could but could safely only slow to approx. 35-38 MPH as there were several rudely and impatiently tailgating me.

    My 1980s family car with rear wheel drive (only), no traction control, worn shocks, a couple of underinflated tires because they constantly leak, made it thru without any traction loss or hint of fishtailing. I was hoping for at least a little of the swerving action just to scare the tailgaters a little bit. Boring.

    I call BS on those that report loss of directional control there at 15 MPH, sorry.

    • flimflam November 5, 2022 (3:16 pm)

      Ok, so somehow your anecdotal evidence is stronger than all the other peoples?

      • bolo November 6, 2022 (10:45 am)

        No, not all the other peoples, but those stating they almost wiped out going 15 MPH, I call BS on that.

        NOT denying that there could be a potential engineering, structural, or materials problem there, but safely navigating it requires attention, not drinking coffee, eating, talking on the phone or texting, and of course monitoring vehicle speed (posted 30 MPH)(and as stated upthread, reducing that by 10 MPH during inclement weather).

        Disclaimer: I am not a roadway engineer or maintenance specialist. You may be, and if so, please share your take on it. Best I saw so far was the explanation by another poster about the possibility of a slick concoction used on a previous repair (silicone anti-corrosion treatment for the underlying structural steel rebar?) migrating upwards to the surface for some reason.

  • DrRobert November 4, 2022 (5:40 pm)

    Those expansion joints are terrifying with any moisture on them; always have been! I’ve been over them on 2 and 4 wheels, and it’s always caused a bit of a loss of traction, especially on 2 wheels. If you aren’t prepared, the rear tire(s) momentarily slip, and you have to not overreact or over correct. They should go out and rough up the texture on those joints to improve traction. 

  • WS4Life November 4, 2022 (7:05 pm)

    Saw 2 trucks that had a collision in that same spot around noon today.  It was not very rain and conditions were clear.

  • bill November 4, 2022 (9:20 pm)

    I hope everyone recounting incidents here has reported them to SDOT. (206) 684-7623 or use the Find It Fix It app. It is very unlikely SDOT has a staffer assigned to monitoring the WSB (shocking, I know!).

  • lovestwestseattle November 5, 2022 (1:16 am)

    First,  perhaps those experiencing this issue can email Lisa Herbold (lisa.herbold@seattle.gov), as she is our city council representative and may have more “traction” on this issue. Also, how about SDOT go an a ride with one of the commentators on this thread so they can get a repro of the issue?  Seems like Adam , and others, would be able to help.   Maybe each person who reports this on “Find It, Fix It” can volunteer (if they want to)  to help the city repro the problem since they seem incapable of doing so. If the WSB editors are in contact with SDOT, can you ask them if they want help with a repro?  (Why they aren’t asking for this help already ? Because it’s not typically done? Is that better than repeated accidents, and somebody getting hurt? Or the city getting sued after the 20th accident?) Finally, on a different note, has anybody experienced water splashing over the middle barrier of the bridge any longer, or running into a deep puddle in the westbound, left lane as the bridge goes upward towards the crest? I used to get temporarily blinded by a huge amount of water splashing on my windshield before the pandemic and bridge shutdown – I’m hoping its fixed but now don’t have a daily commute. Final

  • TK November 5, 2022 (9:39 am)

    Thanks for the video- it appears that the skidding happens in multiple places, and the comments describe this as well. We experienced a skid-out in our AWD van (fully loaded & good tires) on Thursday during a light rain, but in a different section than most people report- it was on the beginning of the curved exit ramp from 99S (before the lane joins up with the westbound WSB where most skids appear). Never had problems with that area before.The video also shows many dangerous intentional moves before the two lanes come together by “lane cutters”. This might be an excellent place for some upright white plastic “anti-merge” posts like were installed before the on-ramp intersection from West Marginal to 509N.

  • SEADOG November 5, 2022 (10:24 am)

    The more members of the community report this to the Federal DOT the more likely we will get a response from the SDOT to fix this.

    DOT Contact information

Sorry, comment time is over.