Day 2 of Viadoom: Another easy day, but don’t get comfortable yet

Jan 15, 2019, 5:39 AM | Updated: 6:49 pm

After a relatively light day of traffic around Seattle on the first day of Viadoom … the second day without the Alaskan Way Viaduct has pretty much been the same. Aside from a few delays, the Seattle area kept things moving.

Check out MyNorthwest’s hub for all things Viadoom

On Monday, the morning commute into downtown Seattle began approximately 40 minutes earlier than usual, as drivers appeared to be changing their habits. Meanwhile, the West Seattle water taxi saw an additional 1,000 new riders compared to this time last year. The Monday afternoon commute saw nearly 25 to 35 minute delays getting in and out of South Lake Union.

“So far, good job guys — we’ve been doing what we planned,” said KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan. “Because of that, the drive hasn’t been terrible through the first couple off commutes.”

Over Tuesday morning, traffic from southbound I-5 into Seattle was slowed by a few collisions. But the viaduct closure did not seem to be a major influence. The West Seattle Bridge was one change, however. Traffic backed up heavier and longer Tuesday morning. This has been expected to be among the worst chokepoints during Viadoom.

Sully noted that the northbound I-5 drive into Seattle began at about 5:30 a.m. And the morning commute started on the West Seattle Bridge at about 6:10 a.m.

For anyone feeling tempted to get back into their car after two easy days, KIRO Radio Traffic Reporter has a warning for you.

“Here’s the deal, I’m going to level with you — don’t stray away from your plan, do not think that just because the first two days have been relatively easy, that it’s a cake walk from here, because that is not the case,” cautions Tracy.

“Do not jump into your vehicle and think that you are going to be fine — this is not the end,” she added.

Below is an account of Monday’s commute around Seattle during Viadoom, with reporting from KIRO Radio’s traffic reporters, Tracy Taylor and Chris Sullivan.

6:53 p.m.

Traffic is now clear on 3rd and Madison.

6:33 p.m.

The crash on northbound I-5 near Mountlake Terrace is now clear to the right shoulder. WSDOT says to expect the four-mile backup to clear quickly.

Meanwhile, emergency road work on 3rd and Madison Street is blocking the northbound right lane.

The drive right now on Denny is heavy all the way from Fairview, continuing all the way to Stewart.

The crash on 5th and Cherry is still backing up traffic.

6:10 p.m.

There are a couple crashes slowing things down right now — the first is a collision in Mountlake Terrace blocking the right two lanes of northbound I-5 north of SR 104.

The second is a collision on 5th Avenue at Cherry Street blocking the southbound right turn lane.

Expect delays from both accidents.

6:03 p.m.

The drive is slow trying to get out of South Lake Union, with Mercer still experiencing significant backups.

1st Avenue South is actually reasonable for drivers trying to get out SoDo.

The lineup for drivers on Boren getting closer to Denny could be rough, though.

The West Seattle Bridge drive has improved, but things are still a little hung up getting on to the I-5 interchange.

5:42 p.m.

Let’s dive into some drive-times.

Bellevue to Renton: 35 minutes

Federal Way into downtown Seattle: 38 minutes (about four minutes slower than what is should be typically)

Seattle to Everett: 37 minutes (half of what it usually is)

On surface streets, 1st Avenue South has filled in, but 4th Avenue South remains reasonable, while Airport Way South is wide open.

Also, there are reports of a car fire on westbound 522 off of Highway 9.

5:25 p.m.

Today’s commute has been relatively light, but remember: Things are just getting started.

“Here’s the deal, I’m going to level with you — don’t stray away from your plan, do not think that just because the first two days have been relatively easy, that it’s a cake walk from here, because that is not the case,” warns Tracy.

“Do not jump into your vehicle and think that you are going to be fine — this is not the end,” she added.

For anyone looking to get on the road now, travel times are holding steady.

5:05 p.m.

Denny all the way to the downtown merge is still busy.

Driving through South Lake Union “hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been too hard.”

Beyond that, be sure you’re not blocking the box! Tracy is seeing a good deal of that during today’s commute.

The drive on southbound I-5 through the downtown corridor has a lineup starting at the U-District and heading up Southcenter Hill.

The worst drive Tracy is seeing is on southbound 405 outside of Bellevue.

4:45 p.m.

Travel times remain pretty reasonable as the afternoon commute continues, with Seattle to Everett running drivers just 44 minutes.

“That’s unheard of,” says Tracy, with good weather keeping accidents to a minimum.

Drivers in Tacoma are still feeling the pinch though, with traffic building out near the Tacoma Dome.

4:30 p.m.

Drivers trying to get to I-5 from Seattle surface streets continue to run into problems on Mercer, with the backup there growing. The drive on Denny is slammed.

Down in SoDo, leaving the stadiums on 1st Avenue South all the way out to Spokane Street is getting tangled.

The backups on the West Seattle Bridge all the way up to the I-5 merge are “brutal,” Tracy says.

Tracy is also hearing about EMS activity on 1st and Bell blocking the southbound right lane.

4:15 p.m.

Backups on Mercer start from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation all the way to the I-5 merge.

That has Westlake, 9th Avenue North, and Fairview are all suffering from the spillover from that backup.

Downtown, both 5th and 2nd Avenue are backed up as well.

Southbound I-5 is struggling from about Lake City Way through the downtown corridor, while the drive through Tacoma is bumper-to-bumper leaving Highway 18 and heading up to the Puyallup River Bridge.

3:57 p.m.

Tracy is seeing a lot of surface street traffic on both Mercer and Denny, causing a lot of problems for drivers out of Eastlake.

Meanwhile, WSDOT is categorizing freeway travel times as “tame” to start the Tuesday evening commute.

3:46 p.m.

A wreck on southbound 405 blocking the right lane at Coal Creek has been cleared — the travel time from Bellevue to Renton is currently 31 minutes.

Surface streets getting over to the I-5 are tough. The lineup on Mercer is “brutal,” says Tracy, causing a domino effect on traffic for Fairview, Valley, Denny, and Boren.

The drive down near the stadiums on 1st Avenue South is filling in quickly.

3:20 p.m.

In one of the weirder traffic incidents of the day, WSP has cleared a ladder from southbound I-5 at 45th Street.

There’s currently an accident on Canyon and 116th blocking the right two lanes, with a backup all the way to the Canyon/512 exit.

Drives on the freeways are starting to fill in — the southbound I-5 commute is currently “slammed” says Tracy.

3:00 p.m.

There’s a lineup on Mercer right now, while diverting to Denny won’t save you much time.

4th Avenue South is “pretty good, not bad,” says Tracy, while Airport Way South is wide open.

Travel times are beginning to climb, so stay tuned throughout the afternoon commute.

10:25 a.m.

10 a.m.

The dump truck that spilled its load on I-5 remains blocking northbound lanes at Northgate. The driver was not injured.

9:55 a.m.

9:50 a.m.

Sullivan notes that the West Seattle Bridge commute has been worse Tuesday. On Monday it was smooth going by 8 a.m. But on Tuesday morning, traffic was still crawling by 9;50 a.m. This has been expected to be among the worst chokepoints during Viadoom.

9:33 a.m.

The worst traffic hazard Tuesday morning ended up having nothing to do with Viadoom. North of the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, a semi-truck rolled over on northbound I-5 at Northgate. It came to rest on its side and spilled its load over the freeway, which appears to be bark dust or soil.

The backup extends three miles. Sullivan recommends that drivers try using SR99 into Seattle which has been “free and clear” all morning. That route abruptly ends at the Battery Street Tunnel exit, however.

The Federal Way to Seattle drive is 46 minutes. The West Seattle Bridge is still a crawl as drivers commute to I-5.

9:13 a.m.

9:05 a.m.

The semi-truck rollover at Northgate isn’t necessarily related to traffic caused by the viaduct closure, but Sullivan reports that the backup forming all the way to Lake City will likely grow into downtown Seattle soon.


I-5 northbound into downtown Seattle from the south is a “crawl” according to Sullivan.

8:55 a.m.

A rollover crash involving a semi-truck is now blocking three right lanes of northbound I-5 at Northgate. It appears to have dumped material across much of the freeway. WSDOT reports that drivers are inching by in the right lane and shoulder, but recommends that drivers find alternate routes. This incident will cause significant delays.

8:53 a.m.

8:40 a.m.

“Today was basically a mirror image of what we saw yesterday,” Sullivan said. “The northbound I-5 drive (into Seattle) did spike in the 6 o’clock hour because we had a series of crashes and stalls on I-5 … but once that cleared, things sped up, like on Monday.”

The trip from Southcenter to Seattle is running about 50 minutes. Everett to Bellevue drive is about an hour. The bridges over Lake Washington have calmed down from earlier when it was heavier — travel times are about 20 minutes there.

The West Seattle Bridge, however, is not easing up for drivers as well as it did on Monday.

8:25 a.m.

Bike commuting may have sunk to a low of 2.5 percent (out of all commuters), but Viadoom seems to be encouraging a two-wheeled renaissance.

Dongho Chang with the Seattle Department of Transportation notes that biking is up across the city by considerable numbers. The Elliot Bay Trail alone is seeing a 191 percent increase from 2017 numbers. The Spokane Street Bridge is experiencing a 327 percent increase in numbers.

8:15 a.m.

King County Metro reports that buses are a bit more full than usual. Sound Transit tells KIRO Radio that its trains and buses have had typical volumes.

8 a.m.

Sullivan is saying that the Tuesday commute is now mirroring the Monday morning drive, with travel from Federal Way to Seattle at 55 minutes; 40 of those minutes are from Southcenter into downtown.

7:45 a.m.

Southbound I-5 around Stewart Street in Seattle has a collision blocking two left lanes (including an HOV lane).

Drive time from Everett to Seattle is an hour and 10 minutes; about 50 minutes of that trip is from Lynnwood into downtown. Everett to Bellevue is just under an hour.

It’s a 55 minute drive from Federal Way to Seattle, and 40 minutes of that is from Southcenter.

The West Seattle Bridge is crawling into the city. The bus lane, however, is running swiftly.

The bridges over Lake Washington have finally started to see some westbound slowing.

7:32 a.m.

7:30 a.m.

One interesting observation, southbound SR 99 through north Seattle is “free and clear all the way down to the Battery Street Tunnel exit at Western Avenue,” Sullivan said. Of course, there is no route beyond the Battery Street exit, making that route difficult at that point.

“Now, that being said, do not all rush out to SR 99 because that will backup significantly,” Sullivan said. “Right now it seems like a decent option, but do not stray from your plan.”

7:15 a.m.

Travel from Federal Way to Seattle grew to an hour and a half around 7 a.m. Sullivan says that this could have been due to a few stalled cars that were moved to the side of the road.

“Now that those have cleared, we’ve kind of gone down to what we saw yesterday,” Sullivan said.  “Right now, we are at an hour and five minutes from Federal Way to Seattle, 40 minutes of that are from Southcenter.”

Surface streets through SoDo are busy, but “managing” Sullivan said. Airport Way is the heaviest.

From the north, Everett to Seattle is about an hour commute.

The bridges over Lake Washington are experiencing normal traffic.

7 a.m.

Surface streets in south Seattle, around Georgetown have begun to swell.

King County Metro is telling riders to expect delays on northbound I-5 routes.

Meanwhile, the express toll lanes on I-405 hit the $10 max.

6:50 a.m.

Northbound I-5 is feeling the strain.

“We are not great, we are heavier than we were yesterday,” Sullivan said. “We are not getting the lighter volume that we got on Monday even with the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed.”

The worst part is northbound I-5 between Federal Way to Seattle, with the heaviest traffic starting at Southcenter. The West Seattle Bridge is sluggish, with cars lining back to the West Seattle Golf Course.

6:40 a.m.

6:20 a.m.

“So far we are seeing a repeat of yesterday with a lot of people getting on the road a lot earlier than normal,” Sullivan said.

Northbound I-5 travel times are about an hour and 10 minutes between Federal Way and Seattle, with 40 minutes of that trip from Southcenter on in. People are hitting their brakes at Boeing Field and crawling into downtown.

Brake lights also are lighting up the West Seattle Bridge, where traffic is backing up to the SR 99 exit. SoDo and Georgetown surface streets seem to be running well.

A lot of drivers are heading toward SR 167 and I-405 from the south end, avoiding I-5 in Seattle.

From the north, drive time from Everett to Seattle is 50 minutes or Bellevue.

Sullivan also notes that fog south of Seattle is causing drivers to lose some time, especially in Tacoma.

6 a.m.

Fog seems to be an issue in many parts of the region, and could be slowing some traffic.

5:45 a.m.

The commute has arrived. Just like Monday, traffic began to swell an hour earlier than usual on northbound I-5.

“We are seeing a lot more slowing getting from before the West Seattle Bridge into downtown,” Sullivan said. “There’s a solid line up of people, who would probably be using the viaduct at this time of day, they are now trying to get off at Mercer to get to their spots at the north end of downtown.”

“We are also seeing a lot of people heading to the I-405 corridor, like we saw yesterday at this time,” he said. “We are filling in through the S-curves already, through Newcastle. It’s a 20-25 minute drive, which is behind schedule for this time of day, certainly.”

It’s about a 50 minute drive from Federal Way to Seattle, and 25 of those minutes are from Southcenter into the city.

5:30 a.m.

Traffic volumes are building a little bit earlier, similar to what happened on Monday. There is a bit of slowing leading to the West Seattle Bridge. And traffic is getting heavy through Federal Way. Travel from Federal Way to Seattle is about 45 minutes.

From north of Seattle, there is slowing around Shoreline on southbound I-5. Travel from Everett to Seattle is about 40 minutes. Everett to Bellevue is under 40 minutes.

There was a crash on northbound I-5 near Mercer Street in Seattle. That has been cleared to the side of the road.

“This was about the time yesterday when we saw the commute really start,” Sullivan said.


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Day 2 of Viadoom: Another easy day, but don’t get comfortable yet