A multiple vehicle crash Sunday morning that closed all lanes on Aurora Bridge in Seattle was the second crash on the bridge in a week.
Crews were called to the scene around 6:30 AM Sunday to an accident involving three vehicles.
Police say no one was seriously injured in the collision.
The causing driver told officers he fell asleep, police said.
Miraculously, no one was killed in this incident, or even seriously injured. We presume that the occupants of the vehicles involved were wearing seat belts and that the air bags deployed. The Seattle Times reported the head-on collision was caused by the drowsy driver’s vehicle crossing over onto oncoming traffic:
[Seattle police spokeswoman Lauren Lovanhill] said the northbound vehicle on the bridge crossed over the center line and collided with one traveling southbound. The driver told police investigating the accident that he fell asleep. She said both cars were newer models and the front ends crumpled, absorbing the impacts of the crash.
I don’t use the Aurora Avenue Bridge on a regular basis. But the times I have driven it, I’ve always felt uncomfortable doing so. In the bridge’s current configuration, six lanes for vehicle traffic are crammed onto the deck, and there is no median or cable in the middle. Some vehicles are too wide to safely fit into the narrow lanes.
Ten years ago, when this organization was campaigning for the defeat of John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur’s I‑912, our campaign mantra was “Safety First”. The 2005 Transportation Package passed by the Legislature included funding for a long list of projects to improve highway safety in every region of the state.
Unfortunately, the Aurora Avenue Bridge was not among the facilities designated to receive safety improvements in that package. Nor is it slated to receive funding from this year’s statewide transportation package or the Let’s Move Seattle levy.
This week’s crashes have demonstrated we just can’t afford to postpone reconfiguring the Aurora Avenue Bridge any longer. The bridge needs a safety median in the middle, given that it carries a state highway with traffic moving at higher speeds, as opposed to a typical street. In addition, the highway should probably be reduced from six lanes to four. That would leave room for the median and allow the remaining lanes to be widened to a standard width.
This work won’t come cheap. But it should be undertaken as soon as can be arranged, to improve the safety of everyone using the bridge. As we said during the NO on I‑912 campaign ten years ago, we simply must put safety first.