Traffic, transit, biking and road condition updates for the Puget Sound area
December 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Travel on all northbound collector-distributor lanes of Interstate 5 coming into downtown Seattle were blocked by a collision about 11:50 a.m.
Medical, fire cres and the state patrol are on the scene.
December 6, 2013 at 10:01 AM
Collisions and some slick streets produced several traffic headaches for Seattle motorists during today’s morning commute.
An accident on northbound Highway 99 near the sports stadiums took about two hours to clear, resulting in backups on 99 and the West Seattle Bridge, according to reports.
December 6, 2013 at 7:30 AM
BURLINGTON, Skagit County (AP) — The Interstate 5 Skagit River bridge is being named after Washington State Patrol Trooper Sean O’Connell in a ceremony Friday at Burlington.
O’Connell was killed while directing detoured traffic on May 31 when his motorcycle collided with a truck.
A section of the bridge collapsed in the river May 23 when it was hit by an oversize truck. Traffic was detoured for a month while a temporary span was erected.
December 5, 2013 at 4:37 PM
Plan ahead, fellow travelers.
Friday evening’s commute likely will be among the worst of the year, while the Great Figgy Pudding Streetcorner Caroling Competition uses the junction of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street at 5 p.m. An estimated 10,000 people are expected to join the merrymaking.
A year ago, bus commuters heading to Snohomish County were delayed 30 to 60 minutes along outbound Olive Way, as cars heading to I-5 via Fifth Avenue detoured through other intersections around McGraw Plaza. Pedestrian crowds stymied car turns at Westlake Avenue North and Denny Way, which brought streetcars to a halt in the general road lanes.
Community Transit warns passengers to expect delays, while the state Department of Transportation cautions motorists, “you will not be alone.” A Pearl Jam concert at 8 p.m. will draw more traffic, heading to KeyArena on Mercer Street.
Also this weekend, construction will close lower Aurora Avenue North and the Battery Street Tunnel for work on the Mercer West project, from 11:59 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday, while crews shift traffic onto new bridge lanes. The good news is there will be only two weekend closures rather than the expected three, says the Seattle Department of Transportation.
December 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM
The Good Jobs Seattle group, which seeks a $15-an-hour minimum wage for fast-food workers, is staging an eight-hour march Thursday from the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center to Seattle’s City Hall.
The 14-mile march begins at 9 a.m. at 17620 International Blvd. in SeaTac.
Participants better dress warm.
The National Weather Service says that although it will be partly sunny, a high temperature of only 35 degrees is expected.
The route will go from International Boulevard to the Boeing Access Road, then onto Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, Rainier Avenue South and South Jackson Street, and will end at City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) says it expects about 100 people and that Seattle police will escort the group in Seattle, using the right-curb lane most of the way. SDOT suggests drivers plan for possible delays. Tukwila police say they will provide traffic control and assist the marchers in that city.
At about 1 p.m., the marchers will pause for lunch at Brighton Field, 6000 39th Ave. S.
The group plans to have a rally at City Hall at 4:30 p.m.
December 4, 2013 at 4:36 PM
A self-proclaimed “pirate” accused of stealing the Victoria Clipper on Sunday was charged today in King County Superior Court with second-degree burglary, first-degree theft and first-degree malicious mischief.
Samuel Kenneth McDonough, 34, of Preston, is being held at the King County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail for a crime spree that was called ”spectacularly reckless and deadly perilous” by Deputy Prosecutor Ian Ith.
“Apparently on a whim as a birthday present to himself, McDonough took control of an $8 million, 480-ton, 132-foot passenger cruise vessel and ripped it from the dock at the Seattle waterfront in the predawn darkness,” Ith wrote in charging documents.
“When contacted by police SWAT-team officers while adrift in Elliot (sic) Bay, Mr. McDonough proclaimed himself a pirate, and said he had intended to flee the country to Victoria, B.C.”
Ith wrote that McDonough later told authorities that he “sought passage to West Seattle.” McDonough also told police that his name was “Zero” and asked officers to bring a woman to the ship “because he was lonely,” according to police.
According to the document of probable cause, and an official with Victoria Clipper, McDonough snaked through a very small hole in a security fence at Seattle’s Pier 69, where the Clipper docks its vessels, partially untied one of the boats and managed to start the vessel Sunday morning.
Darrell Bryan, CEO of Victoria Clipper, called for help when he saw that the Clipper IV was missing from its slot and appeared to be headed toward Harbor Island.
McDonough was arrested without incident by a police SWAT team that boarded the Clipper IV.
December 3, 2013 at 4:15 PM
Better catch that bus to the Fauntleroy ferry dock, all of you Vashon-Downtown Seattle water-taxi commuters.
A bulletin says the route is canceled tonight “due to weather conditions.”
Rochelle Ogershok, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Transportation said that’s due to wind and large swells.
Most riders on the taxi subscribe to alerts about cancelations, she said.
December 2, 2013 at 1:32 PM
UPDATED 4:20 P.M | The West Seattle Bridge reopened this afternoon, following nearby crashes that were blamed by police on road de-icer.
Three cars spun out on the curve next to the Nucor steel mill, where eastbound traffic turns downhill toward the high bridge, said Steve Pratt, road-maintenance director for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
The crashes happened shortly after a midday application of salt solution de-icer.
“The only thing I can assume is, perhaps the (road) deck is a little too warm,” Pratt said.
Pratt said the city was trying to treat the bridge corridor before tonight’s Seahawks game and afternoon rush hour, and SDOT was hearing reports that a cold front would reach the city by 1 p.m.
He was thinking about Nov. 22, 2010, when freezing rain stranded cars on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and road crews couldn’t salt the road decks because the stalled traffic was blocking them. So on Monday, he said he wanted to get a jump on the forecast freeze.
“I’m going to put this in the category of ‘no good deed goes unpunished,’ ” he said.
City officials also blamed high car speed for the wrecks. The posted limit is 40 mph near the steel mill and 45 mph on the bridge.
Pratt, who was doing other work in West Seattle at the time, said he drove onto the high bridge from the Delridge Way onramp, trouble free. But when crashes began, the police closed the entire high bridge route, including the Delridge onramp, as an apparent precaution.
SDOT has used salt solution for more than three years and has never had a problem like this.
The de-icer used Monday is called FreezGard, an opaque brown liquid containing magnesium chloride. It takes five to 10 minutes to crystallize on the pavement, said Pratt. Meantime, it goes on slightly slippery, “particularly if vehicles are exceeding the posted speed limit,” said SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan. Many years ago, the curve at the steel mill wasn’t treated at all, so that when vapor from the steel mill condensed, a sheet of ice invariably caused spin-outs on any frosty morning.
Usually, the city applies salt solution overnight. Just before noon Monday, the air was 43 degrees and the road deck 38 degrees, said Pratt.
He said the city will think twice before applying salt solution in the daytime. Another idea that’s been discussed is a rolling slowdown, where a vehicle behind the de-icing truck slows the drivers behind it for several minutes.
Crashes occurred between noon and 1 p.m. The bridge reopened to traffic in both directions around 3 p.m., after crews dropped sand to improve traction.
The city has applied liquid salt compound since December 2009, following the city’s slow ice response in December 2008 when SDOT under then-mayor Greg Nickels avoided salt, and some streets took days to thaw.
December 2, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Beth Gunn’s bicycle was stolen recently while she was on vacation. That put her in a real pickle because the bike was the only set of wheels she had to get to work from her Queen Anne apartment.
Gunn got her bike back, but in a most unusual way.
She spotted it strapped to the front of a RapidRide bus.
Read her story in a post by one of our community partners, the Seattle Bike Blog, which described Dunn’s good luck as “a little serendipity and a lot of thief stupidity.”
December 2, 2013 at 6:38 AM
The Associated Press
High winds and falling trees forced the closure overnight of Interstate 90 in both directions across Snoqualmie Pass, but the pass was reopened about 6:30 a.m.
The Transportation Department closed the highway just before midnight Sunday for the 72 miles between North Bend and Ellensburg.
There were no restrictions on the highway, but the roadway has snow and slush.
During the I-90 closure, traffic was diverted to Highway 2 over Stevens Pass where chains are required. The North Cascades Highway is closed by snow slides.
The I-90 closure was prompted by a semi-truck hitting a tree Sunday night 5 miles west of Easton. The Washington State Patrol says the injured driver was taken to a hospital in Ellensburg.
Troopers said there were four collisions on the east side of the pass.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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