Traffic, transit, biking and road condition updates for the Puget Sound area
May 19, 2013 at 3:17 PM
Aurora Avenue North, which had been closed over the weekend, has been reopened.
The original schedule was for Aurora Avenue between Valley Street and Western Avenue to reopen at 5 a.m. Monday with two lanes in each direction. That has happened 12 hours early.
Mercer Street and Broad Street also opened ahead of schedule earlier on Sunday.
The street closures and lane restrictions are for construction crews getting ready for the demolition of the east half of the Highway 99 bridge over Mercer.
There are maps here that may help.
May 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM
Mercer Street opens: Mercer Street and Broad Street are now open to traffic, says the Seattle Department of Transportation. Crews getting ready for the demolition of the east half of the Highway 99 bridge over Mercer got their work done earlier than the expected Monday 5 a.m. completion. The rerouting that was to go into effect then has started. That means:
- Mercer Street is reduced to two eastbound lanes between Fourth Avenue North and Ninth Avenue North.
- Local access maintained at Taylor Avenue North.
- The sidewalk on the north side of Mercer Street is closed between Fifth Avenue North and Dexter Avenue North. The sidewalk on the south side of Mercer Street will remain open.
- Broad Street open to two-way traffic.
Aurora Avenue is expected to be closed until about 1 p.m. Sunday. There are maps here that may help.
Warm weather: Today and tomorrow, but rain and lower temperatures moving in on Tuesday.
Hoops hopes: In denying the move of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, the NBA let escape one tiny ray of hope for fans of a future Sonics team: The professional basketball league might consider expansion. Would that be to Seattle? How interested is Chris Hansen now in bringing a team to Seattle? Times reporter Bob Condotta takes a look.
Powerball winner: On winning ticket for the Powerball jackpot of almost $600 million was sold in Saturday night’s drawing. Given that the ticket was sold in Florida, we’re not expecting riches to flow nearby.
May 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM
YAKIMA (AP) — The Transportation Department has reopened Chinook Pass.
Crews worked more than a month clearing 20-feet deep snow and avalanches from Highway 410 on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park.
Spokeswoman Summer Derrey says Friday’s opening is a week ahead of the goal of opening the highway by Memorial Day weekend.
The 5,400-foot pass was closed for the winter on Nov. 12. The section of Highway 410 is a scenic byway that connects with Highway 123 near Cayuse Pass for visitors to Mount Rainier.
Chinook Pass is used by an average of 4,000 vehicles a day.
May 13, 2013 at 7:54 AM
The Associated Press
The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Washington is $3.91.
That’s up 22 cents in a week and it’s 33 cents higher than the national average.
Some metro prices from the AAA’s Monday survey:
Bellingham $4.07, Bremerton $3.95, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $3.98, Tacoma $3.99, Olympia $3.99, Vancouver $3.91, Yakima $3.74, Tri-Cities $3.69, Spokane $3.59.
May 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM
The Sound Transit bus in Monday night’s I-405 crash that left two people dead passed a routine safety inspection a week earlier, according to a maintenance log released by Sound Transit Thursday.
During a 30-minute test drive on May 1, a mechanic looked into a complaint the bus pulled right, but found that it “did not pull, and didn’t pull when braking,” he wrote. Also, the brake pads were all a quarter-inch thick, putting them above the minimum standard, the log says.
The bus driver, Aleksander Rukhlin of Everett, told troopers Monday night he believed the brakes failed when the bus hit an SUV driven by Ken Rotta and carrying his parents, Robert and Elizabeth Rotta of Bellevue. Both his parents died as a result of the crash and Ken Rotta was injured .
The bus, which was on the Route 535 run to Lynnwood, was traveling uphill at an exit at the Totem Lake Transit Center in Kirkland, where witnesses say it went through a red light and hit the right side of the SUV. The bus continued for another half mile on a ramp toward northbound I-405 after the impact.
Maintenance logs are just one piece of evidence in an investigation that will last at least two more weeks.
Washington State Patrol detectives will re-interview all 24 bus passengers, said Trooper Julie Judson. Then, the WSP will obtain a search warrant to gather video and any physical evidence from the bus, now parked in a storage yard in Bellevue. Technicians will then perform a half-day examination of brakes and other components, she said. A search warrant is standard procedure in such cases. Troopers initially said the bus driver wasn’t noticeably impaired, but a blood sample was taken as is customary after a transit crash.
The bus shows green-and-blue Sound Transit colors but is operated under contract by Community Transit, which contracts with First Transit for operations and maintenance.
Sound Transit said it released a First Transit log due to requests from news organizations, but noted, “Please do not interpret, or convey in any way to your viewers or readers, that our providing this document per your request reflects any conclusion whatsoever on the part of Sound Transit about the cause of this tragic accident. We will rely on the thorough Washington State Patrol investigation…”
Sound Transit and its operating contractors “maintain a rigorous preventative maintenance program on all fleet vehicles,” spokesman Bruce Gray emphasized.
This is the first fatality on Sound Transit’s ST Express bus network since service began in 1999, said Gray. Nationally, an average of 87 people a year died in transit bus incidents, of whom 30 victims were in other motor vehicles, according to the National Transit Database for 2008-12. By comparison, 32,367 persons were killed in other motor vehicles in 2011.
Here is the inspection report:
May 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM
A couple riding in an SUV died Monday night when a Sound Transit bus struck their vehicle at an Interstate 405 exit in Kirkland, Washington State Patrol troopers said.
The SUV driver, Kendall L. Rotta, 51, survived the crash and is being treated at Harborview Medical Center.
The accident happened about 9:33 p.m. near Totem Lake Transit Center. The bus was exiting I-405 and apparently ran a red light. The SUV was traveling east on the Northeast 128th Street overpass, when the bus struck it on the passenger side.
Robert H. Rotta, 76, died at the scene, while his wife, Elizabeth E. Rotta, 75, passed away a few hours later at Harborview. Some bus riders had minor injuries, troopers said.
About 35 passengers were aboard the bus, a Route 535 running from Bellevue to Lynnwood. Several bus passengers called 911 to report the collision, and to say the bus had not immediately stopped after the collision. After the crash, at the crest of the uphill exit, the bus rolled downhill a half-mile, on a northbound ramp to I-405, troopers said.
The bus, a 2008 Gillig, is being inspected Tuesday by WSP investigators at a State Patrol storage yard in Bellevue. The bus driver, Aleksander Rukhlin, 54, of Everett, showed no signs of drug or alcohol impairment, but a blood sample was drawn as standard procedure, said WSP Trooper Julie Judson.
Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said the agency doesn’t yet know whether the bus brakes failed, as had been suggested by the driver. “We’re doing everything we can to support the investigation. Our hearts are with the victims, and we will follow the findings and take appropriate action, as what happened comes into better focus,” Patrick said. It was the first fatal collision involving a Sound Transit bus since the agency launched ST Express service in 1999, transit staff said.
The bus, like other Sound Transit routes originating in Snohomish County, is operated and maintained under contract by Community Transit, which subcontracts in this case with the company, First Transit.
The driver was interviewed Monday night by supervisors, and is now on paid administrative leave, said Martin Munguia, Community Transit spokesman.
Seattle Times staff reporter Brian M. Rosenthal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
May 4, 2013 at 5:38 PM
Two people were killed when a motorcycle and car collided in Mason County.
The accident occurred Saturday afternoon on State Route 101, just north of Hamma Hamma Road, according to a tweet from Washington State Patrol trooper Russ Winger.
Both victims were on the motorcycle.
May 2, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Lance David, 54, has been identified as the bicyclist who died Wednesday in a collision with a truck in south Seattle, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office reported today. The cause of death was a head injury.
Cycling advocates say he was an experienced cyclist who routinely rode the corridor on East Marginal Way South to work. Mourners have left flowers, a white ghost bike and a card nearby. In the crash, shortly after 7 a.m., David was heading north on his bicycle when he collided with a truck that was making a right-hand turn from South Hanford Street to head north on East Marginal.
David, a Federal Way resident, was participating in Cascade Bicycle Club’s Commute Challenge this month, along with teammates from Expeditors International, a Seattle-based freight company. He was also registered to ride in this year’s Group Health Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic.
Later this month, there will either be a public memorial ride organized for David, or he will be remembered during the annual Ride of Silence, on May 15 this year, said Don Brubeck, founder of West Seattle Bike Connections.
April 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM
Six Highway 520 bridge pontoons floated out of their casting basin and into Grays Harbor early Monday, taking advantage of high tide to lift the concrete structures off the basin floor.
This group consists of three lengthwise pontoons, each 360 feet long; one pontoon that will be the west endpiece of the floating bridge; and two smaller supplemental pontoons, attached to the sides to add buoyancy. They will be inspected in the harbor before being towed to Lake Washington, the state Department of Transportation says.
The large pontoons were strengthened using high tension steel cables, to compress them from the two sides before leaving the basin. This is meant to prevent a repeat of long cracks that developed in the first batch last year. Repairs and redesigns are expected to cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Pontoons are being built at Grays Harbor and Tacoma under a $367 million contract.
John Reilly, head of an expert review panel, said he and fellow member Larry Kyle examined some of the work in the basin, a couple weeks ago. “Cycle II is much improved, much less cracking, less extensive in terms of structural cracks,” he said. and noticed On the tops of the large pontoons, “the few cracks we saw were pretty small, 1 foot or shorter,” he said. Narrow core samples have also been taken, to confirm epoxy has penetrated into the pontoon walls in places where cracks did need to be filled, Reilly said.
April 29, 2013 at 8:45 AM
The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Washington is $3.63.
That’s down four cents in a week and 11 cents in a month. It’s 13 cents higher than the national average.
Some metro prices from the AAA’s Monday average:
Bellingham $3.69, Bremerton $3.67, Seattle-Bellevue-Everett $3.65, Tacoma $3.62, Olympia $3.66, Vancouver $3.62, Yakima $3.56, Tri-Cities $3.59, and Spokane $3.49.
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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