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traffic

Cameras on the Highway 520 bridge take pictures of license plates as vehicles pass to assess tolls.
Flickr Photo/Wonderlane (CC-BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9ftjw3

Drivers will have a free ride on the state Route 99 tunnel in Seattle when it first opens this fall. After a few months, however, expect to pay a toll of $1.00-$2.50 for each trip.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has proposed multiple tolling options and will present them in public meetings this spring. 


KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

This week, KOMO anchors had to read a script written by their conservative bosses, Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Seattle considered several traffic solutions, including prescribing downtown drivers a traffic decongestant

And a UW researcher says bowhead whales are singing jazz.

The state first made a plan to add carpool lanes in Tacoma in 1993.
Flickr Photo/Greg Nissen https://flic.kr/p/7L519V(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Forget the aroma of Tacoma. Traffic on the freeway there STINKS.

“It feels like it has never not been a construction zone,” one listener told us.

There’s a line in “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple, that triggers pained recognition among locals.

“The drivers here are horrible,” she begins. “They’re the slowest drivers you ever saw.”

With traffic congestion getting ever worse in the Seattle metro area, two classes of solo drivers are asking for permission to use the carpool lanes.

But it's a hard sell in Olympia.

A toll area on Interstate 405.
Flickr Photo/SounderBruce (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ruiWYC

Bill Radke talks to Ed Barry, the Toll Division Director with the Washington State Department of Transportation, about a new report (PDF) that recommends raising the price of the top toll on Interstate 405 past $10.

It was one of a series of recommendations to keep traffic flowing on the busy corridor.  WSDOT has also conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of I-405 tolling as the population in the region continues to grow. 

Adhering to Seattle's climate action plan would require reducing tailpipe exhaust 15 times faster than the 0.5 percent a year Seattle has actually achieved.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Lisa Van Cise about the heavy traffic that drivers can expect over Thanksgiving weekend. Van Cise is a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Growth makes driving Seattle streets crazy - in front of schools, on narrow streets in old neighborhoods, and 59th St. and 22nd Ave NW  where this crazy thing went down. Our audience's question, by a landslide: where are the stop signs to restore order?
KUOW/Megan Farmer

As traffic has worsened in the Seattle area, drivers have taken to side streets to beat the brake lights.

This prompted one of our most popular Local Wonder questions: Why doesn’t Seattle have more stop signs?


See that car in the middle lane zipping to the front of the line? You hate that driver, but they're actually doing the right thing, known as the zipper merge.
WSDOT

Three years ago, we ran a story about a little-known traffic tip known as the "zipper merge." 

In short: Drivers should use all lanes leading up to a merge point, rather than clog up one lane. Arrived at the front of the line, drivers in all lanes take turns merging. This is not cheating! (See image above for why the seemingly polite way gunks up traffic.) 

Even the most commonplace devices in our world had to be invented by someone.

Take the windshield wiper. It may seem hard to imagine a world without windshield wipers, but there was one, and Mary Anderson lived in that world.

In 1902, Anderson was visiting New York City.

Lou Torres has worked with the Oregon Department of Transportation on and off for about 12 years.

He was there for the time a truck carrying fish guts overturned, for that other time when whipped cream covered I-5 and for that time bee hives — filled with bees — fell onto a highway.

Still, Torres ranked the the hagfish spill that happened in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 101 on Thursday as a 9.5 out of 10 on the “weird incident” scale.

KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

Seattle looks for answers after two SPD officers fatally shoot 30-year-old mother of four Charleena Lyles in her home, after officers say she threatened them with knives.

A new KUOW/KING 5 poll finds former Seattle mayor Mike McGinn leading a crowded field ahead of the August 1 primary election, with former US Attorney Jenny Durkan close behind.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray looks to help people with criminal convictions get an apartment in the city, with some landlords saying they're losing even more control over who they can rent to.

And is it ever your job to enforce the rules of the road? We learn from a case of Subaru-versus-Jeep road rage in Kent.

Downtown Bremerton.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle is the fastest-growing city in the country, which means bad traffic and increasingly unaffordable housing.  

Every morning hundreds of thousands of people traverse Austin's congested roads to get to work. Most of them have probably thought: There’s got to be a better way.

This is the story of one man who found it.

Drivers wait to cross Mercer Street
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bill Radke talks to Chris Long, the traffic engineering manager with the city of Bellevue, about adaptive traffic lights and how they can change the flow of traffic in busy areas. 

A rollover accident on Interstate 5 on Saturday morning.
WSDOT

A downed power line wreaked havoc on north Seattle traffic on Saturday morning – resulting in major backups on Interstate 5 at Northeast 130th Street. 

Photo/Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Department of Transportation has confirmed what drivers have been suspecting: Crashes are causing more traffic delays.

State crews cleared more than 15,000 traffic incidents in the final quarter of last year, 20 percent more than in 2015.

'Week in Review' panel Bill Radke, Jonathan Martin, Natalie Brand and Essex Porter.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Washington's attorney general says the injunction he won against President Trump's travel ban still applies to the president's new executive order and is asking a federal judge to agree.

Seattle landlords sue the city for making them rent to whichever qualified applicant shows up first.

Some people are mad with Sound Transit over the rising cost of car tabs and how the agency decides what your car is worth.

And we're still talking about a propane spill that clogged city traffic for nine hours.

sawant radke burbank vance WIR
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Who should pay for solving Seattle's homelessness emergency? Can a new income tax make Seattle "Trump-proof"? Are taco trucks the answer to our traffic problem? And would you vote for President Oprah?

The promise of automated cars is that they could eliminate human-error accidents and potentially enable more efficient use of roadways. That sounds, at first blush, like self-driving cars could also mean traffic reduction and lower commute times.

But researchers aren't so sure.

Hesham Rakha is an engineering professor at Virginia Tech who studies traffic's flow — or lack thereof.

Drivers wait to cross Mercer Street
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Traffic engineers have a nickname for the years 2019 to 2021, when a slew of new megaprojects will get underway in downtown Seattle around the same time. They call it “The Period of Maximum Constraint.” Translated into plainspeak, it means during those three years, we’ll be up the creek in a leaky canoe without a paddle.


Amanda Batterson of Skip's Everett Towing has her doubts about shoulder driving, which would provide congestion relief to commuters living north of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Washington state plans to open up parts of Interstate 5 to shoulder driving. It begins early summer, when the state will let buses drive part of the shoulder south of Everett.


This heat map produced by real estate company Trulia shows the commute times for Seattle residents. The warmer the color, the longer the commute away from Seattle's core.
Screenshot with permission from Trulia

About 236 people move to the Seattle area every day, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.

This means more people driving to their jobs, some more than an hour. About 100,000 people commute to the region from Whidbey Island, Aberdeen, Mount Vernon and beyond, according to the regional council.

traffic commute transportation car
Flickr Photo/JBLM (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Light rail planners aren't wasting any time after voters approved the transportation package known as Sound Transit 3.

The full project list will take up to 25 years to complete. Residents in Ballard and Everett will get light rail service in about 20 years. It's a shorter timeline to West Seattle and Tacoma — about 15 years.

National Archives, Seattle collection

Seattle traffic, as you know, has become monstrous.

Delays on regional freeways doubled between 2010 and 2015, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council. 

Why have our highways failed us so? A 50-year-old document provides one answer. 

A pedestrian crosses Lake City Way near Northeast 125th Street in Seattle's City Council District 5.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

The city of Seattle wants drivers to slow down.

On Tuesday officials announced a plan to reduce the speed limit on all streets without posted signs.

Dave Price wants to know why Seattle doesn't do a better job planning for traffic congestion.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Traffic is so bad in Seattle. Sometimes, when you’re sitting in your car, or on the bus, and you’re not moving, you wonder, is anyone, anyone with power, paying attention?

We’ve all been there. You’re stopped at a red light, it finally turns green, but the driver in front of you doesn’t seem to notice and doesn’t pull forward. You watch helplessly as the light changes to yellow, then red.


Cynthia Ulrich of Stop 405 Tolls looks unhappy as she prepares to enter the toll lane for the first time.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A beat-up red convertible bumps south along Interstate 405. Driver Cynthia Ulrich is about to break her boycott on the freeway’s new toll lanes -- all to help KUOW illustrate how tolls are collected and spent.

But she’s not happy about it.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Paul Allen's company Vulcan Inc. are teaming up to stage a $40 million to $50 million winner-take-all competition. The prize will go to the "mid-sized" American city that comes up with the best plan to use technology of any sort to improve mobility and reduce pollution. 

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