Cops focus on West Seattle Bridge bus lane amid Viadoom

Jan 24, 2019, 5:43 AM | Updated: 6:29 pm

West Seattle Bridge...

Traffic on the West Seattle Bridge. (WSDOT)


We’re now roughly halfway through the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR 99) in Seattle. It seems that after a relatively easy first week of commutes, traffic got worse this week amid rain and multiple collisions.

RELATED: Seattle ridership numbers spike during first week of Viadoom

A new development during Thursday morning’s commute was the addition of a traffic cop on the West Seattle Bridge, at least, unlike the usual traffic cops that monitor the route.

“We got some SPD out there working to keep that open for transit,” said KIRO Radio Traffic Reporter Chris Sullivan.

Sullivan says that there is commonly a traffic cop on a motorcycle stationed at the bridge. They pull over drivers who use the bus-only lane. Anecdotally, Sullivan says that he has observed a lot more drivers using the bus-only lane during Viadoom. The West Seattle Bridge has been among the worst chokepoints during the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

On Thursday, however, the motorcycle cop was replaced by a patrol car. An officer was physically walking alongside traffic and pointing to drivers violating the bus-only lane, instructing them to get over.

The evening commute was about as quiet as it’s been during Viadoom, with your standard backups and congestion, thanks in large part to dry weather.

Below are updates from the Thursday commute, including reports from Sullivan and Tracy Taylor.

6:15 p.m.

5:45 p.m.

The Corson/Michigan exit is officially back open.

Meanwhile, a garage fire in Issaquah has crew on scene now.

5:15 p.m.

Seattle surface streets are getting crowded as we move into the middle hours of the evening commute.

Meanwhile, a brush fire near Airport Way S. on the hillside under the freeway has the Corson Avenue/Michigan Street exit blocked.

4:45 p.m.

Heads up for drivers on northbound I-5 near exit 210, as an accident has traffic backing up significantly.

4:30 p.m.

4:15 p.m.

4:00 p.m.

3:45 p.m.

3:15 p.m. 

Looks like travel times are fairly manageable to start the afternoon commute!

3:00 p.m.

9:40 a.m.

9:15 a.m.

8:55 a.m.

The northbound I-5 drive into Seattle is slow with heavy traffic starting at Boeing Field. It’s 50 minutes between Southcenter and downtown Seattle.

It’s 30 minutes from Bellevue to Seattle on the I-90 and SR520 floating bridges across Lake Washington.

8:45 a.m.

8:20 a.m.

Traffic police have been posted on the West Seattle Bridge today. I looks like they are monitoring the bus-only lane. Sullivan noticed a few cars jumping in the bus only lane during other Viadoom commutes.

Federal Way into Seattle is an hour and five minutes.

Westbound I-90 across Lake Washington is slow. It’s about 30 minutes to drive from Bellevue to Seattle.

7:55 a.m.

Two right lanes of southbound I-5 are blocked following a collision in Tacoma. A backup has extended to seven miles with a minimum 30 minute delay. Slowing starts in Fife and continues to the Tacoma Mall area. Northbound I-5 ahead of the crash is also slow and backed up.

It remains a crawl on I-5 northbound into Seattle, starting at Boeing Field. The drive from Federal Way to Seattle is an hour.

The drive from the north into Seattle is slammed. It takes an hour and 15 minutes to get from Everett to Seattle.

7:45 a.m.

7:30 a.m.

7:20 a.m.

7:10 a.m.

“It is a pretty bad drive out there without a lot of significant crashes left on the road,” Sullivan said. “I think we have a few more people every day going back to their old habits, which is not a good thing.”

The Southcenter to Seattle drive is “grinding,” Sullivan reports, at 40 minutes. As usual, the slowdown starts at Boeing Field and crawls into downtown.

Southbound I-5 is slow from Lynnwood into Seattle. It’s about an hour and five minute drive.

“I wish I could find a reason for it,” Sullivan said. “Drivers are telling me it’s drizzling in that area. That’s the primary reason they can determine why it’s so slow from Lynnwood and through Shoreline.”

The three mile backup from the 1st Avenue Bridge (SR509) is still causing problems after two crashes near the bridge. The West Seattle Bridge is still slammed from Delridge Way over to I-5.

7 a.m.

6:33 a.m.

The SR509 bridge (1st Avenue South Bridge) has been used by some drivers avoiding the chokepoint at the West Seattle Bridge, but a pair of collisions Thursday morning has snarled that commute. The backup is 3.5 miles. Sullivan recommends using another route.

The West Seattle Bridge is backed up to Admiral Way.

6:15 a.m.

A lot more slowing is happening on northbound I-5 into Seattle. It’s an hour drive from Federal Way to Seattle, 30 of those minutes are from Southcenter.

“That last a stretch is Alaskan Way Viaduct diversion,” Sullivan said. “We are looking at a 15 minute delay over what that should be if we had the viaduct in operation.”

The collision in the northbound lanes of the 1st Avenue South Bridge has been cleared. But right after that, another collision happened in the backup behind the bridge. Now the two left lanes are blocked again, for a different collision. That is causing a two mile back up behind the bridge.

Just north of that scene, the West Seattle Bridge has slowed with heavy traffic starting at Delridge Way.

5:55 a.m.

The 1st Avenue South Bridge in South Seattle has two lanes blocked in the northbound direction. SR509 is backing up as a result. This is a connection over the Duwamish River into Seattle. The other connection is the West Seattle Bridge which has become one of the worst chokepoints in the region during the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Federal Way to Seattle is now about 40 minutes, with slowing at Boeing Field.

“All in all, we’re not in bad shape, so far,” Sullivan said.

5:30 p.m.

Federal Way to Seattle is starting to slow. It’s 35 minutes on northbound I-5 from Federal Way to Seattle, and 20 of those minutes are from Southcenter into downtown.

Driving south from Everett to Seattle/Bellevue takes 35 minutes.

There’s a collisions blocking a left lane of northbound I-5 in Tacoma, around the Tacoma Dome. There’s a 1.5 mile backup behind that.

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