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February 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM
The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Seattle-area traffic maps and cameras will be out of service tonight as crews upgrade five miles of fiber optic system cables.
The cameras will be down from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., WSDOT said in a release.
“The disruption will also limit engineers’ ability to remotely monitor traffic signals and confirm traffic incidents from the WSDOT traffic management center in Shoreline,” the release says.
The upgrade is part of a project that is widening the east side of state Route 520 and improving HOV lanes, according to WSDOT.
January 10, 2013 at 5:12 PM
If you can’t avoid driving around Western Washington tonight and tomorrow morning, make sure you’re driving as slowly and as carefully as you can.
Although not much more precipitation is expected tonight and early Friday morning, freezing temperatures at sea level and above could turn any remaining moisture on the roads into ice, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg.
Seattle’s low for tonight is expected to be 30 while Bellevue and areas east of that could see temperatures in the high- to mid-20s, Burg said. If it does snow anywhere in Snohomish, King or Pierce counties, it will probably be less than an inch.
At least 12 King County trucks and several crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation are prepared to lay anti-icers on roads most prone to freezing over.
WSDOT spokesman Greg Phipps said their crews will focus on areas that tend to freeze over first such as freeway ramps, bridges and overpasses. They’ll start laying anti-icer down after rush hour.
“If you do it now you’ve got afternoon traffic that could take it off the road and if it rains later, that might wash it over the road,” Phipps said. “You want to time it right.”
The most important things anyone can do to reduce accidents, Phipps said, is to drive slowly, leaving three times as much space as usual between you and other cars, and looking farther in the distance for possible road hazards.
“Don’t get overconfident because black ice is always an issue with these temperatures,” Phipps said. “Some people with SUVs, for example, get overconfident because their car is good in snow, but it isn’t any better than another car on ice.”
The icy conditions could continue through Saturday, which is expected to be just as cold if not colder, said Burg. Although Friday should be sunny in Seattle, the city’s forecasted low for the day is 28.
The mountain passes won’t get more than an inch or 2 of snow Friday, Burg said, and should be able to stay open. Phipps said that falling trees, which became a widespread threat on several Western Washington highways and freeways last month, shouldn’t be an issue either because of the light amount of snow expected.
Check for road closure and public transit updates here:
December 28, 2012 at 2:39 PM
Rather than wait for summer, the state Department of Transportation will start closing and retrofitting highway lanes in the gloom of winter, starting the night of Jan. 4 with a weekend closure of the southbound Interstate 5 offramp to the West Seattle Bridge.
There will be about 20 weekend closures through April at the I-5/West Seattle Bridge/Columbian Way interchange through April, to replace a total of 31 expansion joints in the overpass ramps, for $4.5 million. These closures generally begin at 10 p.m. Fridays and end 5 a.m. Mondays.
Expansion joints are the gaps between elevated spans — think of I-5 as hundreds of viaducts rather than a continuous roadbed. The gaps allow concrete to expand and contract with the weather. In many spots, steel covers over the joints either “ka-thunk” with passing traffic, or the DOT has removed them altogether. These will be replaced with rubber coverings, so that road runoff doesn’t damage the road decks or trickle onto drivers below. In one sign of freeway decline, a driver was hit in the chest earlier this year when a loose chunk of concrete flew off the freeway near Northgate and hit his windshield.
Here is a color-coded map (click link to enlarge it) that shows which parts of the I-5/West Seattle Bridge/Columbian Way interchange will close on which weekends:
In other big projects, the DOT or contractors will:
* Grind and smooth three lanes of southbound I-5 between Northeast 50th Street and Roanoke Street, while re-striping the freeway in both directions from Northgate to Roanoke, for nine weekend nights in February and March, from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m., for $6.4 million. Lane closures will cause traffic delays.
* Tear out and replace a 470-foot long, timber-supported section of Highway 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge, between late January and April. One of the two southbound lanes will be closed around the clock, while two northbound lanes stay open, while workers build a new span using concrete and Geofoam supports.
* Repair expansion joints and pavement on northbound I-5 near Lakeview Boulevard, in June. The northbound shoulder will be rebuilt so it can serve as a detour lane — and in one DOT concept, as a future “hard running” lane for transit or general traffic to reach the Highway 520 exit.
This homepage from the state DOT discusses several 2013 projects and contains links to maps.
December 20, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Highway 101 between Hoodsport and Brinnon is open again after crews cleared fallen trees and plowed icy parts of the road today, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The 25-mile segment was closed yesterday after heavy snow snapped several trees onto the roadway. A 15-mile segment of 101 between state Route 3 near Shelton and Hoodsport, and a 7-mile portion of State Route 106 between Purdy Cutoff Road and Alderbrook also reopened earlier today.
WSDOT crews will remain on 101 throughout the evening to provide traffic control for Mason County PUD crews while they continue efforts to restore power to the area between Jorsted Creek and Eagle Creek Road. They’ll also be applying de-icer compounds and other roadway treatments to combat the freezing temperatures and ice expected around Hood Canal tonight.
December 19, 2012 at 6:36 PM
Highways in the Mount Baker area and near Hood Canal have been closed after heavy snow caused scores of trees to fall across the roadway in the past 24 hours.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has closed the Mount Baker Highway (state Route 542) east of Maple Falls until at least Friday, excluding everyone except emergency personnel from the Mount Baker ski area.
Parts of Highways 101 and 106 in Mason County are closed as well until further notice. The 41-mile closure of 101 stretches from Route 3 near Shelton to Brinnon and the five-mile closure of Highway 106 stretches from Purdy Cutoff Road to East Dalby Road.
Transit workers tried to keep the roads open but couldn’t keep up with the number of trees falling onto the highways. Hazardous conditions have suspended efforts to clean up the roads any more today but workers will return tomorrow morning, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Crews say it’s unusual to see this many trees come down in such a short period of time.
November 19, 2012 at 4:58 PM
The Washington Transportation Department closed the North Cascades Highway at noon Monday because of heavy snow and avalanche danger.
The department says there were three slides and more than 4 inches of snow within 90 minutes.
The department says the closure is temporary, but the section of Highway 20 over the north Cascades typically closes for the winter this time of year.
November 15, 2012 at 8:37 PM
A friendly warning from the Washington Department of Transportation: Plan ahead for Thanksgiving ferry traffic!
WSDOT expects the longest lines to be for westbound riders on Wednesday, Nov. 21 during the afternoon and evening, and both directions on the morning of Friday, Nov. 23.
Check WSDOT’s ferry schedule to see if your route has extra trips. The Anacortes/San Juan Islands route, for example, will have one extra trip on Wednesday.
November 12, 2012 at 7:48 PM
Heavy snowfall and slide activity has closed Cayuse Pass on State Route 123 and Chinook Pass on State Route 410 Monday, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.
For updates on when the temporary closures end, check WSDOT’s online Mountain Pass Road Report.
November 9, 2012 at 6:52 PM
The 188-car ferry, Walla Walla, is out of service indefinitely after parts of an engine melted and charred during maintenance last weekend.
The Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division announced the decommission of the ferry, one of Puget Sound’s largest, today. Ferry schedules haven’t been impacted yet because the Walla Walla was already scheduled to be out for maintenance, but future schedules might have to be altered, said WSDOT spokeswoman Marta Coursey.
Ferry passengers can sign up for news updates on potential schedule changes at WSDOT’s ferry website, Coursey said.
The Walla Walla had been at Everett Shipyard since July before it was recently towed to Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor.
The failure of one of the ferry’s driver motors happened during maintenance on Sunday, according to a department release. Coursey said the ferry will be out of service for “at least the next few months” as crews work to repair one of four drive motors, which turn the ferry’s propellers.
WSDOT said preliminary findings from their internal investigation show there was no explosion that led to the damage. But because the damage was so serious, the investigation has since been taken on by a third party contractor, Cadick Corporation, according to a WSDOT release.
WSDOT expects the investigation to be completed within the next two to three weeks.
In the meantime, WSDOT is seeing if it’s possible to substitute a spare drive motor already in its warehouse. If that’s the case, repairs could start at the engine manufacturer’s shop by the end of next week.
October 31, 2012 at 8:13 AM
Wet weather, standing water and clumps of leaves on the roadways have left commuters plugging along at a snails-pace this morning.
It’s starting and stopping and very slow moving in many places, especially from Everett to Bellevue where the typical 44 minute commute has stretched to 106 minutes, says Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman Bart Treece.
Commuters heading from Lynnwood to Seattle should expect a 47 minute commute; the average is 32 minutes.
“It’s a little rough this morning,” Treece said. “On wet road, people drive differently. There’s a lot of water on the road, people are driving slower.”
“We’re seeing a lot of water, not an extraordinary amount of collisions, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Julie Judson. “There’s standing water in all of the dips and valleys,” she said of traffic in King County. “People are slowing down. The fastest moving vehicle is 60. They’re trying to make the proper adjustments.”
Trooper Keith Leary said that in Snohomish County motorists are also paying close attention to the road.
“The ones who are getting into crashes are following too close or driving too fast for conditions,” Leary said.
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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