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October 28, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Viadoom: Several highways at a standstill tonight

UPDATE 7:24 p.m.:  Gridlock on I-5 southbound into Seattle is easing a bit later in the rush hour commute. Traffic is backed up about 10 miles on I-5 south from N.E. 145th St. to I-90, causing the Lynnwood-to-Seattle drive to take about an hour, down from nearly two hours earlier in the evening.

ORIGINAL POST: After an easy morning commute, several highways are paralyzed by the combination of a Friday exodus,  rain-challenged drivers and fewer options because of the “Viadoom” demolition work on Highway 99. Accidents have happened all over the Seattle area.

The state shortly after 6 p.m. issued a new release asking drivers to wait until after 7 p.m. before hitting the road.

The trip from Everett to Seattle has taken as long as two hours, and even at 5:20 p.m.  it took 100 minutes, said Mark Leth, regional traffic engineer as the state Department of Transportation’s control center in Shoreline. Currently, Interstate 5 is stop-and-go, shown as black in the state’s regional traffic map here, all the way from Mountlake Terrace to the Highway 520 exit.

“It’s Friday, it’s raining, we’ve had a number of fender benders that have added to the mix, and people trying to get places, all this being at the same time,” Leth said. Viadoom is “a factor,” he said, because drivers have adapted by stretching their commutes so the peak starts at 3 p.m. and lingers until 7 p.m.

Several routes, including northbound I-5 and eastbound I-90 out of Seattle, are actually free-flowing, he said — because traffic can’t get out of downtown to reach them, said Leth. Anecdotally, several travelers are tweeting on #viadoom and they’ve been stuck on side streets.

Meanwhile, the state announced it will reopen Highway 99 as a four-lane detour route in Sodo on Saturday, to last until a stadium interchange and deep-bore tunnel are done in 2016. And the city will open a bike trail along west Beacon Hill on Saturday afternoon.

Comments | More in General news, Traffic & Transit | Topics: commute, Traffic, viadoom

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