Viadoom’s worst traffic yet hits as Week 2 commutes begin

Jan 22, 2019, 6:07 AM | Updated: 6:44 pm
(Michael Simeona, KIRO Radio)
(Michael Simeona, KIRO Radio)

Viadoom’s first week was surprisingly manageable, as people adjusted their commutes to keep congestion to a minimum. But will the second week bring the same results?

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Below are updates on the morning commute, including reports from KIRO Radio Traffic Reporter Chris Sullivan.

“So far it looks like people are doing the exact same thing they did last week to avoid the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure,” Sullivan noted early in the commute.

But as the morning progressed, it became apparent that more cars were joining the commute than last week. Sullivan says that could be the result of a few snarls around the West Seattle Bridge (marine traffic closing a bridge, and heavy port traffic). The rest of the commute started early and was slow heading into downtown.

In the afternoon and evening, the commute was easily the worst we’ve seen since the viaduct closed. Texting into KIRO Radio, one person reported a drive of an hour and 15 minutes getting between SoDo and downtown Seattle. Another said it took an hour and a half getting to Maple Valley from Capitol Hill.

For Wednesday, SDOT renewed its ask of drivers to alter commute methods and schedules.

With more rain in the forecast for tomorrow, things are likely to continue being difficult.

Below are updates on the day’s commutes from KIRO Radio’s Tracy Taylor and Chris Sullivan.

6:45 p.m.

6:20 p.m.

6:04 p.m.

5:46 p.m.

5:20 p.m.

5:00 p.m.

“I don’t like these backups right now, these are brutal — worse than I’ve seen since the viaduct shut down,” says Tracy. That’s confirmed by heavy traffic conditions on virtually every major surface street in Seattle.

4:40 p.m.

An update from Tracy on surface streets:

4:00 p.m.

Things aren’t looking good on surface streets in Seattle right now.

“It’s brutal out there,” says Tracy.

3:45 p.m.

As poor weather sets in during the second week of Viadoom, travel times are getting steadily worse.

3:15 p.m.

“One it’s raining. Two, it’s bad traffic,” says Tracy. Rainy weather already has drive times on the rise.

There are two separate incidents in Tacoma right now: The first is on southbound I-5 approaching 72nd blocking the left lane, and then another wreck on southbound I-5 at 84th that’s got the right lane blocked.

“If we don’t get one of these cleared up here shortly we’re going to see lineups on southbound I-5 extend from the Tacoma Dome,” Tracy warns.

Over on the West Seattle bridge, eastbound traffic is already heavy.

10 a.m.

9:35 a.m.

9:15 a.m.

The Bellevue to Seattle drive is 40 minutes — about double than normal. This is due to a multi-car collision on the Westbound SR520 bridge. It initially blocked all lanes, but has been moved to the right lane.

9 a.m.

8:45 a.m.

Much of the heavier traffic from earlier has eased up, but the commute out of West Seattle continues to crawl. Sullivan reports this is due to a few factors such as truck traffic to the port and marine traffic causing the lower Spokane Street Bridge to open.

8 a.m.

7:45 a.m.

It gets worse for the West Seattle Bridge. The backup now extends to 35th Avenue.

“West Seattle is getting it much worse today,” Sullivan said. “…What’s been unusual compared to last week is Delridge Way, Admiral Way, and Harbor Avenue, are all a lot heavier than last week. Same goes for West Marginal and East Marginal for those heading up past Terminal 46. There’s a lot of truck traffic out today.”

The lower Spokane Street Bridge also lifted for marine traffic earlier, halting car traffic around the same area. That didn’t help.

7:30 a.m.

7:15 a.m.

The West Seattle Bridge continues to inch along. There is a long line of trucks waiting to get into Terminal 46 at the port on East Marginal Way. Delridge Way is slammed.

7 a.m.

Sullivan is noticing that traffic volumes have grown a bit larger than last week when things went relatively smooth, even without the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

“We’re still hanging in there,” he says.

The drive from Federal Way into Seattle is still slow at an hour, but 40 minutes are from Southcenter.

The West Seattle Bridge continues to be the major chokepoint in the region. It didn’t help that the nearby Spokane Street Bridge had to lift for marine traffic earlier, stalling traffic up through Delridge Way and Admiral Way.

Surface streets through SoDo are “slammed.” There are backups on Airport Way and 4th Avenue. But 1st Avenue may have some options for drivers, Sullivan says.

6:40 a.m.

6:30 a.m.

A stall that was slowing northbound traffic on I-405 near Sunset Boulevard in Renton has been cleared. The damage is done, however. It’s 45 minutes from Renton to Bellevue — 15 minutes slower than usual for this time of day. Part of that could be drivers diverting to SR167 and I-405 to avoid I-5 traffic during the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure.

The West Seattle Bridge is now slammed.

The I-5 corridor is crawling from the middle of Boeing Field into downtown. It’s a 35 minute drive from Southcenter into Seattle, and an hour from Federal Way.

It’s now 50 minutes from Everett to Seattle or Bellevue.

6:15 a.m.

The commute has hit the West Seattle Bridge. Though it is not as slow as it could be, just yet. The main congestion is coming from SR99.

6 a.m.

So far, so good — if you compare the Tuesday morning traffic to the first week of Viadoom. Just like last week, the morning commute began about an hour early.

Travel times from Federal Way to Seattle is 50 minutes on northbound I-5, with 25 minutes of that from Southcenter. Traffic slows more and more on I-5 after Albro Place.

Many drivers are avoiding the I-5 slowing by going over to SR167 and I-405. It’s 20 minutes from Auburn into Renton.

It’s also slowing from Everett to Seattle with that southbound drive taking 45 minutes. Everett to Bellevue is 40 minutes.


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Viadoom’s worst traffic yet hits as Week 2 commutes begin