Viadoom Day 5: Traffic snarled by car fires, crashes, and protest

Jan 18, 2019, 5:29 AM | Updated: 5:59 pm

After three relatively light days of traffic, the afternoon commute on the fourth day of Viadoom quickly became the worst drive of the week, thanks to rain and a handful of collisions. Friday morning’s commute started off with fire, while a protest slowed the early evening drive in downtown Seattle.

RELATED: Rainy weather brings the worst Viadoom traffic yet

A car fire snarled traffic on northbound I-5 in Federal Way during the commute in the 5 o’clock hour. While the scene was able to be cleared quickly, the backup and slowdown it caused lingered for hours. Then a second car fire was reported on northbound I-5 in Tacoma near the mall at 56th Street in the 7 o’clock hour. Adding to that, a few collisions kept travel times slow outside Seattle Friday morning.

It was so slow out there, that KIRO Radio Traffic Reporter Chris Sullivan was advising commuters to take I-5 into Seattle — into the heart of Viadoom — to avoid the bad traffic.

“The last two hours, we’ve seen a series of crashes, car fires, and whatnot on the I-5 corridor between Tacoma and downtown Seattle,” Sullivan said just a couple hours into the commute.

The evening commute didn’t bring any high-profile accidents, but a protest downtown did slow things down to kick things off.

All in all, the first week of Viadoom went well to start, with inclement weather slowing things down on Thursday and Friday.

For next week, Sullivan has one piece of advice:

“Whatever you are doing out there, keep doing it. It’s impressive, and it’s working,” he said.

Here’s how it all went down Friday, with updates from KIRO Radio’s Tracy Taylor and Chris Sullivan:

6:00 p.m.

An accident on Aurora saw a 70-year-old driver slam into the back of a Metro Transit bus. The driver is in critical condition at Harborview.

5:45 p.m.

Ferry terminal waits are backing up quickly tonight. Details:

5:30 p.m.

With a handful of events going on this weekend, it’s important to prepare accordingly.

5:14 p.m.

One southbound lane is now open on Aurora and 85th.

5:05 p.m.

Travel times right now are… well, not great. Here’s the current situation:

4:45 p.m.

A collision on Aurora Avenue North at North 85th Street is blocking all southbound lanes.

4:20 p.m.

“If you thought yesterday was bad, today is shaping up to be that way as well,” says Tracy.

4:05 p.m.

While we slog through the Friday evening commute, snow rages on near Stevens Pass.

3:42 p.m.

For anyone going south, you’re in for a tough road ahead.

3:21 p.m.

Reports from downtown Seattle and a #JusticeforIosia hashtag on Twitter tell us that the protest concerns the recent fatal police shooting of Iosia Faletogo, following the release of body-cam footage that played out the incident in full.

Protesters are laying down in the street blocking traffic.

3:13 p.m.

Backups are already building in the early hours of the afternoon commute.

Meanwhile, the downtown protest is now blocking southbound lanes at 7th Avenue.

3:00 p.m.

For anyone traveling downtown right now in Seattle, there’s a protest on 4th Ave and Pine Street blocking all northbound lanes.

As for the rest:


9:50 a.m.

Sullivan reports that “we’re in good shape” right now, with the only major Viadoom traffic on the West Seattle Bridge, which is a crawl getting over to I-5. It’s a 35 minute northbound drive from Federal Way to Seattle. And it’s 35 minutes going southbound from Everett to Seattle.

9:40 a.m.

9:21 a.m.

9:10 a.m.

9 a.m.

Significant slowing continues, especially on the southbound drive from Everett to Bellevue which is clocking in at an hour and 10 minutes. A crash on southbound I-405 near the SR520 bridge has caused a seven mile backup. Sullivan still recommends that drivers use I-5 into Seattle and take one of the floating bridges into Bellevue. The Everett to Seattle drive is just 40 minutes.

8:30 a.m.

8:15 am.

The sluggish Eastside traffic continues despite the scene of a crash on I-405 near the 520 bridge being cleared. The backup still stretches eight miles. The drive from Everett to Bellevue is an hour and 20 minutes. In comparison, Everett to Seattle is 36 minutes.

Sullivan recommends that drivers coming from the north drive into Seattle on I-5 and take one of the bridges over Lake Washington into Bellevue.

8 a.m.

The biggest problem in the region is not directly related to the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct — a crash on southbound I-405 into Kirkland. It’s causing a nine mile backup from just beyond Bothell to the 520 Bridge. It’s an hour and 20 minutes from Everett to Bellevue, and and hour and 10 minutes of that is just driving south from Lynnwood.

“You might want to consider going on I-5 and taking one of the lake bridges over,” Sullivan said.

The Federal Way to Seattle drive has steadily improved over the morning following a car fire that snarled traffic earlier. The drive from Federal Way to Seattle is about 45 minutes, with 30 of those minutes from Southcenter.

7:45 a.m.

It’s 50 minutes from Federal Way to Seattle on I-5 with 35 of those minutes from Southcenter.

The West Seattle Bridge continues to be backed up to Delridge. Drivers under that bridge are waiting behind the scene of a crash on Spokane Street that is blocking all directions.

Airport Way is heavy, but is “hanging in there” according to Sullivan. Streets through SoDo are running relatively well with 1st and 4th Avenues being good options.

The southbound Everett to Bellevue drive has jumped up to 50 minutes because of a crash near the 520 bridge. The crash is in the left general purpose lane. Everett to Seattle is 40 minutes.

7:25 a.m.

7:15 a.m.

Federal Way to Seattle is about an hour, with 35 of those minutes are getting in from Southcenter.

The West Seattle Bridge is backed up as expected, but a crash on Spokane Street just east of the bridge is making things worse. The scene is blocking both eastbound lanes and one westbound lane.

It’s 40 minutes between Everett and Seattle or Bellevue.

7:10 a.m.

West Seattle Bridge has been backed up to Delridge Way for about an hour in the eastbound direction.

Renton to Bellevue drive is about 40 minutes. A lot of drivers are heading that direction to avoid I-5.

It’s 40 minutes from Everett to Seattle, 45 minutes from Everett to Bellevue.

And there are reports of a second car fire snarling traffic on northbound I-5 in Tacoma.

6:50 a.m.

The West Seattle Bridge is backed up to Delridge Way.

Renton to Bellevue is 35 minutes on I-405.

Everett to Seattle is 40 minutes, and it’s 45 minutes from Everett to Bellevue.

All lanes reopened on Spokane Street after a train blocked the road.

The crash blocking the center lane on I-5 in Seattle near Boeing Field has been cleared.

6:43 a.m.

The morning drive is not in good shape, Sullivan says. Federal Way to Seattle on I-5 is an hour and five minutes after a crash at Highway 516 delayed traffic. That crash just cleared, but a second crash at the north end of Boeing Field in Seattle is further complicating things. That crash is in the center lane of northbound I-5.

6:30 a.m.

A train appears to be blocking traffic eastbound and westbound lanes on South Spokane Street at Colorado Avenue. The same thing happened on Tuesday when a train blocked traffic for around 45 minutes. According to Sound Transit and BSNF officials that day, passenger rail service gets priority on the tracks. When Sounder trains move through Seattle, freight trains have to wait. This can cause them to sit on tracks blocking roads.

On Tuesday, pedestrians opted to crawl through and over the train. BNSF strongly cautions people against doing that.

Another train blocked Spokane Street earlier Friday morning. That cleared minutes before the second blockage.

6:15 a.m.

Sullivan has said it every day this week: if you want to beat the traffic crawl on the West Seattle Bridge, you have to get there before 6 a.m. Friday is no different. Traffic has started to back up on the bridge, heading into Seattle.

6 a.m.

The car fire has been put out, and all lanes are open on northbound I-5.

“But we’re still hosed,” says Sullivan.

There is a 35 minute delay coming north out of Federal Way.

5:30 a.m.

A car fire on northbound I-5 is slowing traffic through Federal Way ahead of the Viadoom commute Friday morning. It’s adding 30 minutes between Tacoma and Federal Way.


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Viadoom Day 5: Traffic snarled by car fires, crashes, and protest