Today was already a busy morning in our Seattle-area Traffic Management Center (TMC). Visions of Cinco de Mayo tacos and burritos quickly evaporated as a rainy morning led to a bevy of collisions in the Seattle area.
And then northbound I-5 closed down.
At 8:22 a.m., our staff was alerted to a collision on northbound I-5 at Olive Way via the State Patrol’s Computer Aided Dispatch. Quickly finding it on traffic cameras, it was clear that this was a doozy. A pickup truck was on fire, two cars had significant damage and no traffic was getting through.
|A serious collision during today’s morning commute|
blocked all lanes of northbound I-5 near downtown Seattle.
|WSDOT Traffic Management Center staff work on getting messaging|
out to the public and reversing the I-5 express lanes Tuesday.
While the backup from the collision merged with normal traffic to form a 7-mile backup, messaging on VMS boards and social media kept the congestion from growing even more. Traffic on I-5 was exited at Olive Way and other drivers avoided the area altogether. Meanwhile, the fire department worked to put out the fire, aid crews assisted those involved in the crash and the State Patrol investigated the scene.
|Warnings on VMS boards gave drivers a chance to use alternate|
routes, helping to minimize the backup on northbound I-5.
It was truly a remarkable effort by the responding aid crews to get a situation that had so many moving parts and appeared as though it would be closed for a significant amount of time cleared so quickly. By coordinating with our partners at WSP, SDOT and Metro, traffic impacts - though still significant – were managed well and minimized as much as possible.
|WSDOT maintenance staff clean up debris from the northbound I-5 crash.|
It took just over one hour to go from all lanes blocked to all lanes open.