UPDATE: Truck backups on westbound bridge and lower Spokane St.

2:07 PM: Port-bound truck backups on the westbound West Seattle Bridge aren’t new, but readers have called our attention to what seem like unusual backups these past few days. Right now, the trucks are lined all the way back to I-5 on the westbound bridge, and lower Spokane Street is clogged too, as shown in this texted photo:

We’re checking with the port to see if there’s a reason for these backups. Meantime, if you have to head to West Seattle from points north, also note that the Corson/Michigan offramp from southbound I-5 is blocked by a truck-on-side crash, so that’s not an option right now either.

2:47 PM: The truck backup on the bridge has cleared or lessened, based on the live-camera view of the east end of the bridge.

ADDED WEDNESDAY: We heard back today from Melanie Stambaugh of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which oversees the cargo docks in both Seattle and Tacoma. She says that although these were afternoon backups, they believe the problem may be at least partly traceable to the morning: “I talked with our team and it seems the backups are not tied to any specific incident. Instead, truck drivers are arriving early to their morning appointments before the terminal opens which is causing backups. Additionally, we’re looking at nearby traffic signals to see if they are a contributing factor. We’ve engaged SDOT on behalf of our tenant to evaluate the traffic signals to ensure they are aligned to balance truck movement with general purpose traffic. Both the terminal and the NWSA are communicating with truckers to try to limit early arrivals to prevent these backups.” NWSA also has issued an advisory related to the newly started East Marginal safety project.

16 Replies to "UPDATE: Truck backups on westbound bridge and lower Spokane St."

  • Derrickc March 12, 2024 (3:43 pm)

    I have been wondering why there is no effort to shift the opening hours at port to something much earlier so as not to disrupt regional traffic flow. Even before this week, there seems to always be a long back up at 8 AM. 

  • Truckload of Bulldink March 12, 2024 (4:16 pm)

    I’m very curious what reason the Port gives for these too-frequent backups. Was the potential for backups identified in impact studies before expanding T5? How do they intend to improve scheduling to prevent trucks from backing up? It’s pretty unacceptable that they impede the flow of traffic and especially emergency vehicles. 

  • Steve March 12, 2024 (5:23 pm)

    The truck drivers get paid for each trip to a terminal. That’s why you see them lined up so early. They want to get in, drop a load, and then get another load. I can’t really blame any of the drivers. But the longshoremans union is one of the strongest unions in America. They can shut down the ports. So forcing them to open earlier or later is difficult. And the ships also want to load or unload and move on so there is a rush to get the cargo onto a ship before it does sail.  I agree there needs to be more coordination between the city, the ports, and the shipping companies to arrive at a solution. Besides blocking any emergency services, people can’t get to work, or to school, or anywhere when the trucks aren’t moving.

    • The King March 12, 2024 (5:41 pm)

      It doesn’t seem like this was a problem all these years. Just in recent months the backups start around 7am westbound at the 1st Avenue ramp. 

      • Oh Seattle March 14, 2024 (8:03 am)

        These truck backups were a frequent problem between 2010 and 2012, when I was commuting to Everett and Fremont from West Seattle.  Even after I started working remotely in mid-2012, I still had to take family and friends to doctor appointments on First Hill and have had to cancel on the way due to the truck backups.  This is not a new problem.

    • CarDriver March 12, 2024 (5:44 pm)

      Steve. Port plays games too. Such as: only letting 1 truck at a time come in to off/on load containers. That makes for a long back up of trucks. And, of course the blame and anger then shifts to the truck drivers and longshoremen.

      • Steve March 12, 2024 (6:26 pm)

        Yes, I agree. I worked for a company that moved a ton of containers in and out of the ports. It could be a pain in the butt sometimes to make a ship or we had a load refused for some reason.  More and more cargo moving in and out. It would be ideal if the ports were open earlier but I don’t know how that can be forced upon them.

    • The King March 12, 2024 (5:49 pm)

      For all of these years backup like this weren’t a problem though. Only in recent months has the 1st Avenue ramp become blocked to to buses and cars that can’t get around them or backups to the freeway. Something has changed. I’ve emailed the port and the website says expect a response in 2-3 days. It’s been a while 

      • Bill March 12, 2024 (7:34 pm)

        Something has changed. “Haven’t you been paying any attention? at all? — Don’t you remember the  new cranes coming in a few months ago?  —  and the info re largest container ships in the world?  World class has a price for the little people!

        • WSB March 12, 2024 (10:25 pm)

          Nothing has changed in the past few months in that regard. Second berth at T-5 hasn’t been in action yet.

      • bill March 12, 2024 (7:52 pm)

        Before the pandemic backups and blockages at the surface intersection at E Marginal & Spokane were common. 

  • bill March 12, 2024 (8:01 pm)

    The Port admitted “we goofed” a decade or so ago in the Seattle Times by not considering traffic impacts when the port facilities were upgraded and expanded to handle more cargo. Fun fact: Our property taxes subsidize this incompetent agency.

  • ARPigeonPoint March 13, 2024 (7:11 am)

    It’s been really bad this week. I commute home at 12:45 and on Tuesday, the trucks effectively blocked all traffic from getting on the bridge (around 1:00). 

  • Aaron March 13, 2024 (7:31 am)

    Worse than the congestion caused by port poor planning is the insidiously toxic emissions from all the container trucks idling. Bicycle commuting along Alaska when the port is backed up is terrible, with diesel exhaust belching out all these old trucks. With so many new studies coming out about how bad diesel exhaust and Nox pollution is the City/Port  needs to manage the truck traffic by air quality sensors. The pollution is terrible.

  • Aaron March 13, 2024 (8:52 am)

    Worse than the congestion caused by poor port planning is the ridiculously toxic emissions from all the container trucks idling waiting in line for hours. Bicycle commuting along Alaska when the port is backed up is terrible with diesel exhaust belching out all these old trucks. With so many new studies coming out about how bad diesel exhaust and NOx pollution, the City/Port needs to manage truck traffic by air quality sensors. The pollution is terrible.

    • CarDriver March 13, 2024 (2:07 pm)

      Aaron. Who’ll pay for newer cleaner trucks? The truck drivers cannot afford to buy one. If you say the port remember that money would come out of our pockets. I’m betting newer cleaner semi’s are north off 100K-each.

Sorry, comment time is over.