The weird things that cause Seattle traffic jams

February 28, 2017


Got a truck? Great! Now fill it with something weird and tip it over!

Over the years, Seattle has seen its fair share of traffic jams due to straight up weird situations. Most of them truck related, some of them poop-related, some of them both.WATCH: Taco truck opens up shop in Seattle trafficHere are a few of the most memorable traffic jams that stress me out just reading about them again.

Fish Truck Fiasco

Can you spill anything more quintessentially Seattle than fish? In 2015, a truck full of salmon toppled over on the viaduct near the stadiums at 2:30 p.m., right before rush hour on a day with a Sounders game at 7:00 p.m. Southbound lanes were closed until midnight. If you lived in Seattle, you were late. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei was almost late for the game. He had to find street parking in gridlock traffic and run the rest of the way to the stadium.


A year after fish truck fiasco, crabpocalypse brought Seattle’s traffic to its knees right before the evening rush hour. Backups extended for miles due to southbound lane closures, and damage to a guard rail closed a north bound lane as well. Thankfully, we had a year to prepare for this one so instead of smelling salmon cooking under the sun for nine hours, we only had to let the crab creep into our nostrils for just over four hours.


Yeah, an explosive tanker sounds bad (just keep reading), but doesn’t 14 million bees spilled into the road sound worse than a potential explosion? Sure it was in Lynwood, but traffic pains were felt all the way down here when a semi carrying 448 bee hives hit a guard rail and flipped over before 3:00 a.m. in 2015. What’s worse? It got warmer and the bees got agitated and started stinging people (duh). This wasn’t the worse traffic ever…. That was from….

Propane and propane accessories

At about 10:15 a.m., a tanker truck carrying propane (the super flammable stuff used to catch your grill on fire) flipped over on I-5 south, but due to the explosive nature of the contents, closed both northbound AND southbound lanes. Traffic EVERYWHERE was backed up for miles. It was so bad that a taco truck opened up shop in the middle of closure and probably made bank. Finally, at 6:00 p.m., the truck was put up on its side and both directions re-opened, but not before destroying traffic for an entire day and making a family restaurant filthy rich.

Truck of poop

Not only did an overturned semi trailer block a ramp in Everett, but the...uh...product...made the roadways "slick" according to the State Troopers. Imagine gridlock traffic, but where you have to smell human poop the whole time you're sitting there? Roll the windows up, breathe through your mouth, try not to think about it and just GO. 

Bertha’s gotta go
At this point, Bertha is kind of like our semi-tolerable roommate who, for the most part, doesn’t cause too many problems, but when she decides to let loose, you’re going to have a bad night. When the gigantic boring machine that’s digging us a new tunnel under the city needed to go under the already unsafe viaduct (the thing it’s replacing), the entire road had to be closed down for nearly two weeks in 2016. At least it didn’t smell like fish this time.

Presidential Pile-up

Bring a president to town, get a traffic jam. When Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma back in 2015, a rush-hour closure of I-5 caused a 17-mile backup. Traffic was so bad that people decided to drive on the opposite side of the freeway to get where they were going and State Troopers didn’t even give them tickets…

Expansion Joints

If you live in Seattle long enough, you’ll learn what expansion joints are, and you’ll learn to cringe every time you hear the word. The joints connect pieces of elevated freeway to each other and when they fail, they require emergency construction. We could talk about a million examples of this happening, but this one in 2016 backed up traffic for miles. Oh, the joy of aging infrastructure.

Rain, but not snow
You mean that thing that we get almost every day but haven’t learned how to drive in? Yeah, if you see it, that means traffic. However, if it snows and you are brave enough to hit the road, get ready for wide-open lanes all the way to your destination as most Seattleites opt to work from home because “they know what it’s like when it rains.”

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