traffic | KUOW News and Information

traffic

Phyllis Porter is a neighborhood activist who lobbied long and hard to get Rainier Avenue S on a "road diet."
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

People have called Rainier Avenue Seattle’s most dangerous street. There’s at least one accident every day. Pedestrians have died. But that could change soon.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct sends cars streaming past Seattle's waterfront.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Ross Reynolds speaks with Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington, about whether the $16 billion state transportation package will make your commute better.

The challenge of strategizing the best route to work against the herd of other drivers can be as routine as the daily commute itself. A number of apps are out there to help shortcut one's route and evade traffic jams. But which ones are the most accurate? And how?

The All Tech Considered team put a few competing traffic apps to the test in Robert Siegel's usual short commute from Arlington, Va., to NPR's D.C. headquarters.

The Test Drive

This ride is about 15 minutes in no traffic. But it's now morning rush hour.

At least there's a beautiful sunset to look at when you're stuck in Seattle traffic.
Flickr Photo/HeatherHeatherHeather (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Traffic is getting worse in Seattle. Our rising population is driving it. And even with a multibillion-dollar transportation package, it's not expected to improve.

Which is why we plug our ears when we hear someone like Gil Penalosa, a former parks commissioner from Colombia, say, “I think congestion is good.”

The Alaskan Way Viaduct sends cars streaming past Seattle's waterfront.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Visionaries conceive of a future most of us can’t imagine. And when it comes to transportation in one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., vision is crucial.

Beyond the annoyance factors we all face as we navigate our region, there are serious questions to address. How can we plan for a sustainable transit future? What is the impact of infrastructure spending, or the lack thereof? What national and international best practices can we look to? Will technology help solve our transportation problems? And how does the way we commute affect our health and happiness?

The Access Map by team Hackcessible, a team of University of Washington students, won Seattle's Hack the Commute competition on Wednesday night.
Access Map

A few months ago the City of Seattle launched a search for the next big commuter tool.

The idea was to Hack the Commute – and make a real difference in the lives of people who need to move around our region. Wednesday night they picked a winning project.

File photo of traffic on Seattle's Ship Canal Bridge.
Flickr Photo/Lonnon Foster (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Washington State Department of Transportation's Brian Lagerberg about how companies impact our traffic and how they can help.

traffic, transporation Variable speed signs on northbound Interstate 5 into Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Wendi Dunlap (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Mark Hallenbeck about the implications of reducing speed limits in Seattle. Hallenbeck directs the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington.

At least there's a beautiful sunset to look at when you're stuck in Seattle traffic.
Flickr Photo/HeatherHeatherHeather (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Jim Bak, traffic analyst at INRIX, about Seattle's congestion and how that is impacting our economy.

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

It should only take half an hour to drive between Everett and Seattle on Interstate 5, which was possible during the holidays.

But it’s back to reality now, and the regular commute can take longer than an hour.

KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Rainier Avenue, one of two main arterials in Seattle’s southend has a notorious problem with aggressive, speeding drivers.

Flickr Photo/Jory (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

To improve Seattle traffic, what if your child in the backseat no longer gets you into the HOV lane? Good idea? Also: Is Backpage.com liable for sex trafficking through its site? Would expanded gun background checks lead to gun confiscation? And will anyone really give marijuana candy to trick-or-treaters? Really?

Bill Radke’s guests this week: Dan Savage, Rob McKenna and Joni Balter; plus Slate’s Mike Pesca, LiveWire’s Luke Burbank and the NRA’s Catherine Mortensen.

See That Red Lane, Seattle Drivers? Don’t Go There

Oct 22, 2014
An SDOT Crew puts the finishing touches on a bus-only lane on Battery Street in Seattle's Belltown Neighborhood.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Traffic in Seattle is sluggishly slow – you know that already. It’s eating three hours more of your life now than it did two years ago.

That’s why the City of Seattle announced improvements this week to help buses move more efficiently through the city. Advocates say the small improvements add up to faster, more reliable bus service.

On Tuesday, at the corner of 4th and Battery in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, Seattle Department of Transportation crews stenciled the words “Bus Only” onto a lane of traffic that they have painted entirely in red.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This week, President Obama came to town for a pledge drive of sorts. What's it like to have to fundraise for a living? Two former politicians will tell you.

Plus, this week we learned the mind-blowing news that drivers are supposed to wait for the last minute to cut in line and merge -- according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

KUOW’s Bill Radke reviews those stories and more along with Joni Balter, former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and former Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna. Plus, Luke Burbank drops by and we get an update on the Carlton Complex fires from Paige Browning of Spokane Public Radio.

The Interstate 90 backup early Tuesday morning: one scenario where being polite gets you nowhere.
Courtesy of WSDOT

Seattle area traffic jams are nothing new, but this week has been particularly trying with the construction on westbound I-90 closing all but one lane in Bellevue.

It might seem selfish, but the best way to ease congestion, according to Washington State Department of Transportation's Travis Phelps, is to drive right up to the closure before merging over.

KUOW Photo/Michael Clinard

Some Microsoft employees probably regret not taking that other job offer. Seattle’s city attorney regrets bringing his pot to work. Should a Seattle theater company regret not casting any Asian American actors for its current show? And you'll regret it if you take I-90 westbound into Seattle next week.

What else do you regret? And how would you tell your younger self to avoid regrets?

Flickr Photo/Oran Viriyincy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

If you travel on I-90 between Bellevue and Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation has a message for you: Start making other plans.

Beginning at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, July 18, road work will take westbound I-90 near Bellevue Way S.E. from four lanes down to one, around the clock, for seven days.

To help ease the pain, WSDOT is asking you to plan now to change your commute.

File photo of traffic on Seattle's Ship Canal Bridge.
Flickr Photo/Lonnon Foster (CC-BY-NC-ND)

It’s been a bad summer for driving in Seattle.

Several accidents have shown us that surface streets cannot handle the traffic load when Interstate 5 or Highway 99 choke up. Traffic and design issues on major routes have been difficult even without an accident.

Flickr Photo/Keith Allison (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Seattle’s school superintendent might go to Sacramento. Rideshare companies can deploy all the drivers they want. The Seattle Times takes a new angle on sports coverage as the Washington Redskins patent is dissolved. Seattle City Light planted puff pieces about itself online. No surprise, Seattle traffic is bad.

And the official Seattle song you’ve never heard.

KUOW's Bill Radke recaps those stories and more news of the week with Civic Cocktail’s Joni Balter, C.R. Douglas of Q13 FOX News, and LiveWire's Luke Burbank.

Washington State Department Of Transportation Photo

Traffic jams have plagued the Seattle area for weeks. Now a traffic data company reports that congestion has been getting worse even before the traffic snarls of the last few weeks. 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The city of Seattle is re-timing traffic signals throughout the city to make crosswalks safer for all pedestrians.

A study conducted by a group of graduate students at the University of Washington School of Public Health in 2013 found that traffic signals in Rainier Valley force pedestrians to cross faster than signals on Market Street in the wealthier and whiter neighborhood of Ballard.

Rules Of The Road

Aug 14, 2013
Stacey Sanner

Do pedestrians always have the right of way? Really? Always? Is it illegal to pass a city bus on the right? What is the speed limit in a neighborhood if no signs are posted? Ross Reynolds sits down with former Seattle traffic officer John Abraham to take listener questions about the rules of the road. 

Flickr Photo/Daniel Gies

Seafair will feature an air show over Lake Washington this weekend. FAA rules require the Interstate 90 floating bridge to close during the Patriots Jet Team practices and shows.

I-405 And SR-520 Closed This Weekend

Jul 11, 2013
WSDOT

State Route 520 and northbound I-405 will be closed this weekend for inspection and repairs. Both directions of SR-520 will be closed between Montlake Boulevard and I-405 from 11:00 p.m. Friday through 5:00 a.m. Monday.

Northbound I-405 from S.E. 8th Street to SR-520 from 10:00 p.m. Friday to 4:00 a.m. Monday. The I-90 ramps to northbound I-405 will also be closed.

drewesque / Flickr

Seattle drivers: Get ready to tap the brakes around more school zones. The city plans to install speed cameras at five more schools after early results indicate that the enforcement devices – and resulting $189 traffic tickets – are motivating drivers to slow down.

In December, the city rolled out the enforcement cameras at four schools. In those school zones, the cameras snap a photo of any vehicles that exceed the 20-mile-per-hour limit. Then the driver later gets a citation in the mail.

Flickr Photo/SDOT Photo

Driving around Seattle this weekend will be trickier than normal. The Seattle Department Of Transportation plans to close parts of Aurora and Mercer Street around South Lake Union as part of the effort to convert Mercer into a two-way street. The city's now focusing on the Mercer West project, the section of Mercer between Dexter Avenue and West Fifth Avenue.

Flickr Photo/don_brubeck

National Bike to Work Day is May 17. That means lots more cyclists on the roads. Washington drivers should be even more careful, not only for safety reasons, but also because of a recent change to Washington state law.

Ask The Traffic Cop: Officer John Abraham

Apr 9, 2013
Stacey Sanner

Are you ever driving down the street, see something happen in traffic and wonder, is that allowed? Ross Reynolds sits down with KUOW's favorite traffic cop, Officer John Abraham, and talks about the rules of the road. From four-way stops to tailgating, pedestrian rule breakers and aggressive bus drivers, The Conversation is on the road to getting your traffic questions answered.

That Man On The Bus Is Saving You Money

Feb 15, 2013
Flickr Photo/Tinou Bao

The Texas Transportation Institute released its annual urban mobility report, which measures the amount of time spent in traffic for commuters and the role of public transportation in reducing congestion in major cities.  Ross Reynolds talks with transportation and urban policy blogger and University of Washington research scientist, Shane Phillips, about his analysis of the data.

Flickr Photo/Greg Matthews

What are the new rules of the road for marijuana use now that it’s legal here in Washington state?  Seattle Traffic Officer John Abraham talks it over with KUOW’s Ross Reynolds.

Pages