Worst of the 'Via-Doom' so far manifests for drivers

VIDEO: Commuters seeing worst of 'Seattle Squeeze'

SEATTLE — We are halfway through “Via-Doom”- the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. And during the second week, commuters are seeing the worst of the Seattle squeeze.

WSDOT said Wednesday some commutes are lasting up to an hour longer than normal.

On Wednesday morning, about a dozen crashes and stalls throughout the Puget Sound snarled traffic for drivers. At the peak, four crashes happened within 10 minutes.

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“In general we were seeing times between 30 and 60 minutes longer than a regular commute,” said Dave Sowers with WSDOT.

Drivers say it seems after week one of the viaduct closure, more people are back on the road.

“Everything was just really slow,” said Emily Newcomer, who lives in West Seattle

WSDOT and SDOT said they don’t have traffic volume numbers yet, but blame a big part of the backups on rain.

“I think it's a lot to do with the weather -the weather has contributed to that and the number of incidents,” Sowers said.

Chopper 7 showed you the long line of brake lights this morning on I-5 NB, on 167, and an intense backup on the West Seattle Bridge.

Newcomer said she commutes to South Lake Union from West Seattle and usually takes the water taxi, but needed to drive Wednesday – and the trip took an hour and 15 minutes.

“It was chaotic and it ended up being a very stressful commute this morning,” she said.

A longtime metro driver said another impact of high volumes is drivers sneaking onto the bus only lanes.

“There were violators on the West Seattle bridge?” KIRO7’s Deedee Sun asked.

“Yes, more violators and earlier on the bridge, on the span itself,” said Darryl Butler, who has been with Metro for 22 years.

He said while driving over the bridge to downtown, he saw about 30 violators in a span of four or five minutes.

“Cars just move from the lane they’re supposed to be in, into the bus lane. And if one moves in then there are 10 that are going to follow it,” Butler said.

He said despite cars in the bus only lanes, he still made it the length of his route from West Seattle to Downtown in about 35 minutes – while drivers were still stuck on the bridge.

At the metro transit control center, it's all hands on deck. They can report violators, add standby buses, or re-route buses if they see trouble.

Transportation leaders are reminding you to continue avoid driving if at all possible.

WSDOT said  me tunnel construction is on time and it plans to open the tunnel on Feb. 4th.

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