KeyArena event brings evening commute to grinding halt

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 7, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 7 at 6:19 PM

SEATTLE – Gridlock plagued Seattle drivers once again during Tuesday afternoon/evening commute.

About 16,000 people attended the "Get Motivated" seminar at KeyArena Tuesday morning, causing traffic to be jammed through just about every route into the city. Officials asked all drivers to prepare for a similar situation heading home tonight.

By 5:00 p.m., I-5 north and south was clogged, as well as most routes leading away from KeyArena. By 6:00 p.m., WSDOT tweeted commute congestion was beginning to near normal levels. The seminar ended at 4:45 p.m.

The Seattle Department of Transportation advised people to consider leaving work early or delaying the trip to avoid the traffic. Check the Travelers Information Map for up-to-date information on citywide traffic flows and to view traffic camera images.

The Washington State Department of Transportation advised people to use 4th Ave. S. or Airport Way.

According to WSDOT officials, the reason today's traffic was worse than any caused by other recent events was mostly due to the timing. The doors opened for the seminar at 7 a.m. Sporting events begin at 7 p.m., outside the evening commute, and even traffic from Microsoft shareholders events is not as bad because they tend to begin at 9 a.m. at KeyArena.

The event began at 8 a.m. Drive times at about 8:30 a.m. ranged from 90 minutes from Everett to Seattle, 140 minutes from Federal Way to Seattle and 35 minutes from Bellevue to Seattle. Check traffic.

"It was backed up to Tacoma. I was wondering what was going on but I had no idea it was coming from Seattle," Wendy Scott said via Facebook.

"Took about 40 minutes to cross the West Seattle Bridge to get to the 5 north," Brooke Davidoff Robertson said.

The event featured former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, General Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, Laura Bush, Dan Rather, General Stanley McChrystal, Joe Montana and Brian Tracy.

Although many didn't anticipate the heavy traffic volume, some attendees felt the trade-off was worthwhile to see and hear people like Rather and Bush in person.

Lavonne Fox and her group left the Dupont area around 5 a.m. and sat in traffic on-and-off. They made the seminar with five minutes to spare.

“We knew it was going to be packed because it was sold out so we were kind of prepared and got an early start but I am surprised at how many people are here,” she said.

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