Viadoom day 3: High-speed chase snarls I-5 early in the afternoon

Jan 16, 2019, 5:40 AM | Updated: 6:49 pm
High speed chase Viadoom...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The first two days of Viadoom have seen drivers experiencing traffic that was lighter than expected.

Check out MyNorthwest’s hub for things Viadoom

The third morning commute was a bit bizarre. Someone was able to drive onto the southbound lanes of the closed Alaskan Way Viaduct. And a train stopped at a quite inconvenient spot, for a rather long time, south of downtown. The railway had to urge pedestrians to stop climbing through and over the train cars.

Things only got weirder during the afternoon commute, after a high speed chase stemming from an armed robbery in Lynnwood saw backups gather on I-5 southbound near Northgate.

The incident saw a 38-year-old man crash a stolen taxi while speeding away from the police, and at one point was even driving the wrong way on I-5.

For tomorrow, traffic experts are cautioning commuters against getting too confident about conditions. The worst is yet to come, especially if people revert to old habits as the weather takes a turn for the worst.

“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 days have been relatively easy, that it’s a cake walk from here, because that is not the case,” cautions KIRO Radio Traffic Reporter Tracy Taylor

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

Keep that in mind for tomorrow, with the forecast for Thursday calling for rain.

Below are updates, with reports from KIRO Radio’s Tracy Taylor and Chris Sullivan for the afternoon and morning commutes respectively.

6:40 p.m.

Well, we made it through another day of Viadoom! See you out there on the roads tomorrow, and remember to keep sticking to your altered commuting schedule.

6:20 p.m.

6:00 p.m.

There’s a long lineup on 520 causing an 84 minute drive from Bellevue to Everett, while southbound 405 is “brutal” outside of Bellevue says Tracy.

5:30 p.m.

It should go without saying, but Tracy has some advice for anyone feeling like they can revert back to their pre-Viadoom commuting habits:

Tracy also has an alert from Metro Transit: Buses are rerouted off NE 145 Street and a portion of 5th Avenue NW. Instead, use stops on 15th Avenue NE south of NE 145th, or on 5th Avenue NE north of NE 155 Street.

5:07 p.m.

While the commutes have been manageable for the early part of this week, rainy weather starts tomorrow. That could very well mean more traffic, so be sure you’re leaving plenty of following space tomorrow morning.

4:45 p.m.

A collision in the southbound I-5 HOV bypass at Southcenter is snarling traffic, slowing the drive from Seattle to Federal Way considerably.

4:30 p.m.

After early delays, the commute on northbound I-5 has cleared up considerably.

4:05 p.m.

With traffic snarled early on in the afternoon commute, it’s important now more than ever to stick to your Viadoom plan.

The latest on the downtown Seattle, West Seattle, and Northgate drive:

3:45 p.m.

WSDOT says that the Seattle to Everett drive time is down to 71 minutes, but Tracy remains skeptical.

“Here’s the deal, I think this is going to take us a little longer — there are a lot of things holding us up,” she said.

We’re still looking at a lot of heavy traffic, with a “brutal” commute on northbound I-5 from the Convention Center all the way to Northgate.

Southbound 405 from just after NE 8th all the way out to the Valley Freeway is “bumper-to-bumper.”

3:15 p.m.

All lanes of southbound I-5 have been cleared, while the investigation continues on the express lanes entrance. The backup extends about a mile.

According to Tracy, a good deal of the congestion is being caused by drivers slowing down to look at the incident, so be sure to keep that rubbernecking to a minimum.

The rest of I-5 is already what WSDOT is calling “a big mess.”

The Seattle to Everett drive is currently 103 minutes, between the visual distraction caused by the high speed chase, and the earlier crash on northbound I-5 near Everett south of US 2.

3:00 p.m.

Things got off to something of a rocky start today on the commute, but not due to any Viadoom-related incidents.

A high speed chase following an armed robbery in Lynnwood saw backups gather on I-5 southbound near Northgate, after law enforcement eventually crashed the escaping vehicle.

The armed robber fled the scene of the robbery in a yellow cab, with the pursuit ending near Northgate with one male in custody.

The ensuing backup is a little more than a mile to around 130th.

Meanwhile in Everett, a wreck on northbound I-5 just south of US-2 has the two right general purpose and HOV lanes blocked. WSDOT advises drivers to consider alternate routes as the crash is cleared.


Below are updates, with reports from KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan, from the morning commute, Wednesday, Jan. 16.

10:43 a.m.

Answering inquiries from KIRO Radio Traffic Reporter Chris Sullivan, Sound Transit offered an explanation for Wednesday morning’s traffic snarl caused by a freight train blocking the roadway under the West Seattle Bridge at 1st Avenue and Spokane Street.

A Sound Transit spokesperson said that BNSF dispatches Sounder, Amtrak and their own freight trains. Passengers trains, like the Sounder are a higher priority on the tracks than freight trains. BNSF had a freight train wait while it prioritized the Sounder train.

This caused the freight train to wait, blocking the road, and causing a traffic delay near the train yard.

9:47 a.m.

Heavy traffic from Southcenter into downtown, though travel times have improved by about 10 minutes over the past hour.

West Seattle Bridge is solid from Delridge Way.

9:25 a.m.

8:49 a.m.

Because of the viaduct closure, there is heavy slowing on northbound I-5 from around Boeing Field into downtown.

“It’s going to be a grind,” Sullivan said. “It’s going to take you a significant amount of time getting through that.”

The West Seattle Bridge continues to crawl.

8:25 a.m.

It’s a 50 minute drive from Federal Way into Seattle, but more than 40 of those minutes are from Southcenter into downtown.

The West Seattle Bridge is still backed up to near Delridge Way.

Surface streets south of downtown are crawling. Airport Way is still bogged down through the north end of Boeing Field, and 4th Avenue is solid with cars (this route is missing a lane from a construction project).

8:10 a.m.

Despite being closed, a driver was apparently able to get onto the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct this morning. A video posted to Twitter Wednesday morning shows a car driving southbound.

“I just saw an unbelievable video … someone actually made it onto the viaduct in a car and was driving southbound,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know how that person got there. It doesn’t look like a police car, but I’m hoping it was someone in authority. But someone got on the southbound deck and was probably wondering where everyone was.”

8 a.m.

BNSF is in the process of trying to move the train that has snarled traffic under the West Seattle Bridge at 1st Avenue and Spokane Street. The train has been sitting idle for nearly 50 minutes.

In the meantime, the railway is asking pedestrians to stop crawling through and over the train while it is sitting there.


The West Seattle Bridge is slow, with traffic backing up to Admiral. Another problem with the commute out of West Seattle is a train blocking the roadway at 1st Avenue and Spokane Street — under the bridge. It’s been sitting for more than 45 minutes and will not move out of the way.

“West Seattle, you’re taking it on the chin,” Sullivan said. “According to BNSF they have people out there checking it out. And I just got a note from BNSF that the train had to wait for commuter trains to get through first. It might be a traffic jam related issue on the tracks. That seems to be the issue, from BNSF’s perspective.”

Federal Way to Seattle is 55 minutes, and 44 of those minutes are from Southcenter.

Everett to Bellevue is an hour and 15 minutes, Everett to Seattle is an hour and five minutes.

7:40 a.m.

7:25 a.m.

7:17 a.m.

I-405 southbound has a stalled car in a toll lane, at SR522, affecting the commute through Bothell. The express toll lanes have reached the $10 max.

7:03 a.m.

It’s about an hour between Federal Way to Seattle, with 36 of those minutes are form Southcenter.

Renton to Bellevue is 40 minutes.

It’s a crawl over the West Seattle Bridge.

There is a power outage int he Meadowbrook area of north Seattle. This is potentially affecting traffic signals in the area which neighbors Lake City Way. Treat dark signals as four-way stops.

6:52 a.m.

6:43 a.m.

6:30 a.m.

There are two lanes blocked near the Boeing Freeway, north of the Everett Mall (the HOV lane and a general purpose lane). It’s not directly related to the viaduct closure, but it is causing a three mile backup into downtown Everett and slowing the drive south ahead of Viadoom traffic. It’s an hour from Everett to Bellevue, and 55 minutes from Everett to Seattle.

Federal Way to Seattle is 55 minutes, with 35 of those minutes from Southcenter into downtown.

The West Seattle Bridge is backed up beyond the Delridge area.

“Looks like if you want to beat that West Seattle traffic, the idea is to get on that bridge before 6 a.m., even by a couple of minutes,” Sullivan said.

6:10 a.m.

It’s about 55 minutes between Everett and Bellevue. Sullivan says that drivers on KIRO Radio’s text line report noticing more people on I-405 southbound today.

The morning commute from the south end has officially begun, with traffic times going up by 35 minutes between Southcenter and downtown — a 10 minute delay over normal.

If you took Sullivan’s advice to use the West Seattle Bridge earlier, good on you. The bridge is now a solid line of slowing cars backing up to Delridge Way. This heavy commute is starting about an hour ahead of normal for West Seattle.

5:50 a.m.

There is three miles of slowing on southbound I-5 out of the Everett area following a couple of collisions near the Everett Mall. It’s about 40 minutes from Everett to Seattle or Bellevue.

It’s 45 minutes driving from Federal Way to Seattle, 25 of those minutes going into Southcenter.

The West Seattle Bridge is still moving smoothly. Sullivan expects that route to fill up within 25 minutes.

5:30 p.m.

It’s “normal” in Tacoma, which means  I-5 is slowing around the Tacoma Dome.

The biggest slow downs are around Puyallup, near Sumner. Auburn is showing signs of heavy traffic as well. This is likely from many drivers opting to use SR167 and I-405 to avoid I-5 through Seattle. It’s a 40-minute drive from Puyallup to Renton.

There is one accident on southbound I-5 just north of the Everett Mall. One car is upside down, and another is facing the wrong way. The scene has been moved to the side of the freeway, but is causing a slowdown.

West Seattle Bridge is not showing signs of slowing down so far, but that will likely change as the morning continues. This has been the worst chokepoint during Viadoom.


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Viadoom day 3: High-speed chase snarls I-5 early in the afternoon