Thursday, August 28, 2008

SR 520 bridge opened in August 1963

I just found an interesting article on Wired magazine's Science discovery site talking about how on August 28, 1963 the Evergreen point SR 520 floating bridge opened.

However, I don't think the bridge would like being called a "1.42 mile barge with a road on top of it."

Happy belated to the SR 520 bridge (for safety reasons, and because you would probably be annoyed with us for lengthening your commute we decided not to offer cake on the bridge, hope that's ok).

What would you call that, a bridgaversary, or maybe a birthbridgeday?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Updates to travel information on the Web site

As a follow up to the "small site" post, per your request, we were able to make Puget sound incident information, and northbound Canadian border wait times available via the small site:

Other projects
We are trying to work with Google right now to see if we can give them our border wait time data and have them add it as a feature to their Google mobile site. They have a great service where you can text them a question and they will text back an answer. Wouldn't it be cool if you could text a number with the statement "border wait time" and it would text you back the latest wait time, saving you from having to access it via a browser or use up any airtime minutes? We will let you know as soon as we hear back from Google about whether or not they are willing to provide the service or if we will have to pay for it. Any other companies interested in providing this information? Feel free to contact me, we are more than happy to share data to disseminate it to a larger audience than we can reach.

I also got a call this morning letting me know that the Olympia area traffic flow information will be turned back on and also will have several new cameras available in September.

Now if we could only get a new mapping solution so that milepost locations we reference when referring to incident locations could make more sense... (coming soon)

Check your route
Because of your feedback we have continued postings the best times to travel for holiday weekends for US 2, I-90 and I-5 north of Bellingham and south of Olympia. If you plan to trave,l it's a great tool to plan what time to leave.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mudslides in August...

Can you believe it, mudslides, in August! Rainfall in the Methow valley caused a few mudslides on SR 20. More photos available on our Flickr site.

Let's hope this isn't a sign of what this winter could look like.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I-405 Wilburton tunnel removal - recap and review...

We are breathing a sigh of relief around here because we don't have to shut down southbound I-405 for a third weekend, and taking stock of what worked and what didn't from our communications perspective.

As we take the time to review our lessons learned we want to hear from you about what worked and what didn't. We had staff working all weekend both weekends (not so typical for state employees eh?) making sure we kept the project page up to date with status updates.

Where did you get your information about this construction event? Did you ever feel misinformed? Is there anything you thought we could have done better?

If you haven't had a chance yet be sure to check out the photos and video footage of the construction and tunnel removal.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I-405, Wilburton tunnel removal, round two...

Southbound I-405 is closing again this weekend. It's the second of three scheduled closures to remove the Wilburton tunnel.

How did you hear about last weekend's closure? Or better yet, did you hear about last weekend's closure? Were you able to avoid it?

Whenever there are significant closures the alternate routes are also affected. Here are some of last weekends numbers to give you a better understanding:
  • 7,000 fewer cars on northbound I-405
  • 5,000 more cars on southbound I-5
  • dramatic increase on 520 - up to 25,000 additional trips, a 153% jump over normal use
Did you meet traffic in places you didn't expect?

Will you miss the tunnel when it's gone?

We would love to hear from you, let us know how your plans will change, or have gas prices changed your weekend plans so much that this won't even affect you?

View photos and video of last weekend's work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Attention cell phone users with Internet access...

We have received quite a few questions lately from cell phone users who have had trouble accessing our Seattle traffic flow map.

Our answer: Don't access the Seattle traffic site with your phone, it's not designed for it, it works, it's just not very easy to use. However, we do have an alternative for you. Did you know that we have a version of the Seattle traffic site designed specifically for small screens? We also provide mountain pass reports and ferry schedules.

We designed this version of the Web site to be as simple as possible to make sure it can work in as many phones as possible, let us know if it doesn't work on yours.

Access it now: (or better yet, type it into your phone's browser)

Of course, this same information is available if you call 511, but sometimes it's nice to see those reassuring colors on the flow map for yourself.

Wi-Fi in Rest Areas...

Oops, I mistakenly reported that Wi-fi internet access would be unavailable at rest areas earlier this week.

Wi-Fi is currently up and running at rest areas, except for a couple of locations on I-90. Last week, we were given some misinformation and concluded it was completely shut down.

It's still up and running, but maybe only for a little while longer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I-405 weekend closures...Wilburton tunnel removal

If you live in the Puget Sound region and haven't heard about the Wilburton Tunnel removal and I-405 closures, now's the time to find out more. We will close the southbound lanes on I-405 in Bellevue this weekend to safely remove the tunnel above the freeway. With lane closures like this, traffic could get bad. We're talking 13-mile backup bad. So planning alternate routes or having a staycation is advised.

So how, exactly, do we remove a tunnel? Think of the crunchiest cereal you've ever eaten-Captain Crunch, Grape Nuts, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Now imagine what your teeth are crunching is concrete. The specialized machinery being brought for this job has jaws that are capable of crushing four-feet thick concrete. That's crunchy.

Fun facts about this weekends work
Located just north of the I-405/I-90 interchange the Wilburton Tunnel runs about 360 feet long and 70 feet wide.

While this looks like a small tunnel, demolition numbers are surprisingly large:
  • The total weight of debris being moved from the Wilburton Tunnel is equivalent to the weight of 14 Statue of Liberties.
  • 20 million pounds (10,000 tons) of concrete will be crunched into smaller chunks and hauled away—about the weight of three Space Needles.
  • 1.5 million pounds of rebar will be extracted. This is equivalent to the weight of four Boeing 747 airplanes.
  • 1 million pounds (500 tons) of sand will be placed on the roadway each Friday night, acting as a buffer to protect the roadway from falling debris.
Crews will use about a dozen pieces of equipment to remove the Wilburton Tunnel:
  • Two 15,000 ft-lb breakers, each capable of crushing four-feet thick concrete will break, or crunch, down the tunnel into small concrete chunks.
  • Six hydraulic excavators with specialty attachments (concrete crunchers, breakers, and “bucket and thumb”) will crunch the tunnel and help remove debris
  • Bobcats and a front-end loader will help remove debris
  • A hydraulic hammer will crush the tunnel

After Friday at 11 p.m. you won't be able to go under the tunnel, but there are detours in place. Check the Web site for the latest updates on the tunnel removal progress.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Traffic was rough on I-5 northbound this morning...

What a morning. The theme of the day seems to be semi rollover day. We had two blocking incidents that caused severe backups.

Northbound I-5, near Tumwater, a semi truck rolled over at about 3 am carrying 40,000 lbs of drywall. Tractors and dump trucks were on scene picking up the mess. Wet drywall is not an easy cleanup. More photos... Get the latest update on this situation.

Then about 5 am, near Tukwila, a diesel truck overturned. To make matters worse, there was a hole in the side of the truck and has the potential to leak. We needed to make sure we could do everything we can to make sure the diesel does not spill into the Duwamish River. The Ecology spill unit was on the scene to assist. They need to offload all of the diesel onto another truck before they could right the semi.
Get the latest update on this situation.

On a side note, our Web site was receiving very high amounts of traffic due to these two incidents and we had to put up a text version of the Seattle traffic site to make sure you can stay informed.