Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 9 a.m. departure from Washington state resulted in long backups on I-5 as his motorcade traveled from downtown Seattle to Paine Field in Everett.
The Lynnwood to Seattle commute was still 90 minutes at 9:15 a.m.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s motorcade snarled traffic during the second of his three-day visit to the Puget Sound region. With trips from Seattle to Everett, Redmond, and Tacoma and back to Seattle, Xi’s motorcade caused commuters trouble all day.
After Xi’s tour of Boeing in Everett in the morning, he went back to Seattle for lunch. He then cruised over to Redmond to visit the Microsoft campus.
Xi traveled to Lincoln High School in Tacoma in the afternoon, causing commute problems that stretched through the evening.
His return to Seattle made things even worse, causing a complete shutdown of northbound I-5 from Tacoma to Seattle for nearly an hour.
Earlier in the day, Xi took part in a U.S./China Business roundtable that included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
On Tuesday morning, Express lanes were shut down on southbound I-5 and traffic came to a halt, backing up for 17 miles.
The Seattle Police Department warned that vehicle access around the Westin Hotel — bounded by Olive Street, 7th Avenue, Lenora Street and 4th Avenue &$8212 will be limited. Police are asking commuters to use transit or park outside the area and walk in. Those entering the area will have to be screened by security. The U.S. Secret Service will post signs designating restricted areas.
The Seattle Department of Transportation suggested people stay home altogether.
Transit rerouted around Seattle
King County Metro announced it rerouted a long list of bus lines, especially around the Westin.
According to King County Metro’s website:
Buses on 22 routes that travel on Stewart and Virginia streets will be rerouted all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and early Thursday: routes 25, 64, 66, 70, 71, 72, 73, 83, 106, 150, 177, 178, 190, 192, 252, 257, 268, 304, 308, 311, 355 and Sound Transit 545. NOTE: Routes will be affected only at times they are scheduled to travel Stewart and Virginia streets.
Metro is also warning commuters that they should expect further road closures and traffic slowdowns as streets are intermittently shut down on freeways and arterials throughout the region.
Sound Transit is also altering its routes and stops in the area. Affected routes include 510, 511, 512, 513, 545, 578, 592, 595, and 590/594.
For a full list of bus stops that will be missed and other updates to the Sound Transit system, check here.