CHOKEPOINTS

West Seattle seeing ‘massive’ increase in traffic with bridge out of commission

May 21, 2020, 7:13 AM | Updated: 11:09 am

West Seattle Bridge...

The West Seattle Bridge. (Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

(Feliks Banel, KIRO Radio)

With the West Seattle Bridge not currently in operation, residents have been forced to deal with increases in traffic getting in and out of the neighborhood.

Engineers believe West Seattle Bridge could eventually suffer partial collapse

As people who live in West Seattle have been telling me, including Seattle’s director of mobility Heather Marx, the roads leading out of the area are jammed.

“There are some areas that are impacted by the West Seattle Bridge that are, in fact, either a little or a lot up,” Marx said. “We are seeing massive increases in traffic on West Marginal Way leading up to the bridge. We’re also seeing traffic levels on Michigan that are identical, if not at least a little higher, than our baseline pre-COVID.”

So that gives you a good idea what people are doing now to escape West Seattle with the bridge out of commission. Just imagine what those roads will look like once more of the city opens up.

We have seen a slight uptick in traffic on the freeways across Seattle as well. What about on streets?

Marx said she has seen a slight uptick in traffic citywide recently, but nothing she would call a trend. Most of the city’s roads are still seeing a large drop-off in volume.

“On the streets broadly, we are still way down,” Marx said.

Like us, Marx is also curious what post COVID-19 traffic will look like. How will fears over transit or working from home impact our future?

“I’m intellectually really interested to see how we as a society grow and change,” she said.

One thing we know will change is the number of city streets that will be blocked to through traffic. At least 20 miles will be marked off-limits permanently as we come out of this pandemic, with more miles to be added to the list.

Residents face ‘scary’ prospect of losing West Seattle Bridge for good

Marx reminds us that you shouldn’t be using those roads to cut through neighborhoods anyway.

“Those Stay Healthy Streets are all neighborhoods streets,” she said. “If people have been driving on those neighborhoods streets as part of their normal commute, they really shouldn’t.”

Stay Healthy Streets that are now closed to through traffic are still available to drive on if you live in the neighborhood, or are visiting someone in the area. Delivery drivers and sanitation trucks are still allowed, as are police and fire rigs.

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