SEATTLE – One driver called Thursday morning the worst day of traffic so far since the start of the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, particularly for people coming from West Seattle.
Commenter: "Abandoned ship to work from home after C Line chilled (by) Luna Park for half an hour. Today = worst traffic of week by a mile."— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 5, 2016
The morning commute showed more drivers who may have stayed away the first few days were coming back and jamming up the alternate routes and some even abandoned their buses due to the backups.
KING 5 Traffic Reporter Tracy Taylor said the usual Thursday port traffic simply made it worse. A big contributor was the gate at Terminal 46 south of the Colman Ferry Terminal. The gate has been opened at 3 a.m. during the viaduct closure in order to allow trucks in earlier. But it did not open until 7 a.m. Thursday at the height of the morning commute. The port is being urged to return the opening to 3 a.m.
Drivers from West Seattle reported it was taking them nearly an hour just to go a few blocks.
One woman tweeted bus riders abandoned Metro and started hoofing it.
The West Seattle Water Taxi, which has been a hero for many commuters, was feeling the pinch, too. Shuttle buses to the taxi were having a hard time getting there.
Traffic is jammed on Harbor leading up to the W Sea Bridge. Shuttle buses to the Water Taxi are running up to 20 minutes late. #99closure— Ricky Courtney (@rickycourtney) May 5, 2016
On the eastside, drivers trying to avoid northbound Interstate 5 altogether were trying to join the regular commuters on I-405 so they could get to the I-90 floating bridge. The extra I-405 traffic caused a backup onto State Route 167.
The I-405 problem was made worse by a broken expansion joint in the HOV lane near I-90. A witness said five drivers ended up with flat tires. WSDOT quickly repaired the joint.
Thursday morning came the added pinch on SR 18 between Issaquah and I-90 as drivers tried to avoid SR 167 and I-405.
As for the afternoons, Taylor said the evening rush hour is now starting as early as 1:30 p.m.
Transportation officials say Sounder train ridership has increased 20 percent, Light Rail is up 10 percent, and Metro bus ridership is up seven percent since the closure.
Bertha was 47 percent through her dig under the Alaskan Way Viaduct late Thursday morning, staying on a pace necessary to potentially get the viaduct back open on schedule. WSDOT on Thursday would not commit to saying when the viaduct will reopen until after the weekend.