Ok, so we’re definitely not ready for the Big One. The ‘quake’ that was felt in Seattle on Monday was due to a single tanker truck, overturned and leaking butane at the I-90/I-5 interchange. At 10:30 Monday morning, the overturned truck caused a closure of I-5 in both directions that lasted until after 7pm. Crews worked to upright the tanker but also kept the scene clear for safety reasons.
20 months after we rage-laughed at ourselves on behalf of a salmon truck bringing us to our knees, this closure was far worse. Throw in a bitterly comical coup de grâce of thundersnow, and we truly had a meltdown for the ages. I-5 traffic was dead stopped for 8.5 hours, and southbound drivers’ only respite was to exit onto downtown surface streets, leading to intractable gridlock. Buses quickly fell behind, many of them two hours behind, the First Hill streetcar gave up and stopped operating on Broadway, and at one point there were twelve RapidRide D coaches bunched between Denny and Mercer in Lower Queen Anne. The West Seattle Water Taxi was turning people away on each run, and streets like Stewart were wall to wall with idling buses and cars. Normally placid side streets on Capitol Hill such as Belmont and Boylston – where I tell people I live in ‘the eye of the storm’ – were also gridlocked.
Aside from knock-on delays from tunnel bus unpredictability, Link light rail performed swimmingly, almost as if nothing at all was happening. We received two reports from Eastside commuters who had no trouble traveling from Kirkland to Capitol Hill at 4pm via bus and Link. Twitter was abuzz with frustrated souls wishing ST3 had been finished yesterday.
What was your experience like Monday? What did you notice? Below are a selection of reader-submitted photos.