Chokepoints: A look back at the transportation highs and lows of 2022

Dec 22, 2022, 6:12 AM | Updated: 2:29 pm
ferry crash...
One of the scariest stories of the year happened in July when the ferry Cathlamet slammed into the Fauntleroy Dock in West Seattle. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The ending of the unplanned exile of West Seattle is my top Chokepoints story of the year.

The re-opening of the West Seattle Bridge in September ended more than two-and-a-half years of misery for people living and working in that neighborhood. The closure not only cut off the primary artery to West Seattle, but it put thousands of more cars into South Park, Georgetown, and Interstate 5 as residents looked for ways around.

It was a joyous Sunday when it reopened. “It feels like it was longer than 2 1/2 years,” one West Seattle resident told me the day it opened. “Thankfully, it didn’t turn into a replacement because that would have been h***.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation says the bridge should live out its original life span of a few more decades.

The familiar clunking sound of failing expansion joints has fallen silent. The Washington Department of Transportation finally finished all its Revive I-5 work south of downtown Seattle this year. These lovely expansion joints, most of them originals from the 1960s, have now been replaced.

The pavement bumps are gone, and so are the weekend lane closures and delays.

West Seattle Bridge traffic volume not back to pre-closure levels

But before you get too comfy, Revive I-5 from downtown Seattle to Northgate begins next year and will last several more years.

The end of construction on I-5 through Tacoma was also a huge story. The opening of the HOV lanes in August marked the end of more than 20 years of construction on that corridor.

I-5 has two new bridges over the Puyallup River and extended HOV lanes from Fife to the Tacoma Mall. Those HOV lanes now connect directly to Highway 16, which has eliminated a lot of weaving. The daily backups there have disappeared.

Revive I-5 racing weather to finish in Seattle-area

One of the scariest stories of the year happened in July when the ferry Cathlamet slammed into the Fauntleroy Dock in West Seattle. Steven Allen was on-board the ferry when it happened.

“As we were coming in, typically they will slow the boat down several hundred feet before the dock, but this time I noticed the boat was coming in rather fast, or coming in hot,” Allen said.

The ferry slammed into the alignment piling, known as a dolphin, just off the dock. It crumpled the left side of the ferry, destroying the area where people stand (known as a pickle fork) and several cars.

WSDOT’s head of ferries, Patty Rubstello, was astonished.

“It truly is a miracle that someone wasn’t injured,” she said.

The ferry is still being repaired. The captain at the helm that day has resigned, and the Coast Guard still hasn’t released the official cause of the crash.

Fauntleroy ferry dock reopens after US Coast Guard removes crashed ferry

The King County concrete strike that lasted several months will also be felt long into the future. The lack of concrete put many big projects behind schedule, including the West Seattle Bridge repairs. It was another of the reasons why Sound Transit says it will not be able to deliver its ST-3 promises on time.

It wasn’t late concrete but bad concrete that forced the agency to pull up its tracks on the I-90 floating bridge, putting that extension to Bellevue in jeopardy. There is talk of starting the Bellevue to Redmond end as I-90 gets figured out.

Lynnwood has been pushed back to late 2024 or early 2025. Federal Way is pushed back to 2025 as well.

Link light rail expansion construction faces delays

Make sure to check back next year for more traffic fun with Chokepoints.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


speed cameras...
Chris Sullivan

Speed cameras on freeways? Seems like a quick way to make roads safer

We have them in school zones, and we have them at intersections, is it time to put speed cameras on the freeways to keep speeds down?
2 days ago
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT is hiring, but can it keep people from bolting for better pay?

The Washington Department of Transportation is back to pre-COVID-19 staffing levels, but can the agency keep those hires from leaving?
4 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Gas prices have been creeping up, but who’s responsible?

Gas prices are on the rise again in Washington, and it doesn't have anything to do with the war in Ukraine or supply issues in the U.S.
8 days ago
Everett I-5...
Chris Sullivan

Emergency repairs to close multiple I-5 lanes in Everett this weekend

State transit officials are going to close two of the three northbound I-5 lanes around Marine View Drive in Everett all weekend. 
9 days ago
tow truck...
Chris Sullivan

Tow truck drivers beg for more protection on our roads

They clear our roads, many times in the dark of night, with no protection. Is it time to give tow truck drivers more visibility on our roads?
11 days ago
homeless boulder...
Chris Sullivan

Boulders return to prevent homeless camps along WA highways

Let's talk about boulders -- specifically, the use of boulders to prevent homeless camps from returning to sites along freeways and highways.
16 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Chokepoints: A look back at the transportation highs and lows of 2022