Drivers top fish in Seattle’s new traffic plans

Aug 3, 2015, 8:18 AM | Updated: 11:48 am

Puget sound, traffic, seattle, fish, truck...

A fish truck rolls over on Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, trapping drivers behind the mess on the road. (Seattle Police Department)

(Seattle Police Department)

Months after wiping the egg from its face after an overturned fish truck shut the city down for nine hours, Seattle is beginning to implement some changes to the way it handles major collisions.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is working on a plan to keep traffic flowing and to prioritize traffic over property, after a 63-page report listed recommendations for the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Police Department.

Murray will submit a plan to the City Council to re-enforce what is already state law. Drivers are supposed to move their cars after accidents, if they can, to keep traffic moving. “Holding Harmless” laws have been in effect for 13 years.

The mayor’s resolution would also remind first responders that they cannot be held liable for private property damage as they work to get the roads opened.

The city admitted that it had no plans in place to handle such a significant collision and that it was so worried about liability that it didn’t want to move the overturned truck.

Weeks after the fish truck crash, SDOT Director Scott Kubly said SDOT and the Seattle Police Department had different protocols for a major traffic situation. The police department prioritizes property above traffic.

SPD counsel Krista Bryan Maxie explained that an insurance adjuster was at the site of the crash on March 24.

“He expressed some desire if possible the load be preserved because there was three-quarters of a million dollars of fish in the back of the truck,” Maxie said.

Related: Drivers may have taken backseat to fish in crash

The report also recommends the city send “qualified personnel (from SDOT and/or SPD)” to a major collision scene to direct the cleanup process.

“Major decisions should not be left to the towing operator,” the report said.

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