The state Department of Transportation is asking Seattle-Bellevue motorists to delay their trips, and work until at least 6 p.m. if possible Friday afternoon, to help the region bail out of congestion caused by rain, stalls, and a presidential visit.
“People are taking off early. If they could wait until 5:30 or 6:00, it could die down,” said Bart Treece, a WashDOT spokesman in the control center in Shoreline. But if Barack Obama’s campaign stop in Bellevue goes into overtime, it might take longer for congestion to clear, he said.
Drivers appear to be leaving work early to get a start on the three-day Presidents Day weekend — and longer in the case of the Seattle School District, he said.
Obama’s motorcade could wind up on I-405 going to Everett, though law enforcement and presidential staff do not discuss specific travel patterns for security reasons.
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Earlier in the day, around 2 p.m., state troopers briefly blocked southbound I-405 to Bellevue, but not the opposite northbound lanes, according to DOT.
The afternoon commute is off to a sluggish start. At 4 p.m., a trip from Everett to Seattle took 96 minutes. As of 4:20 p.m., there was a stalled vehicle entering Seattle on the Ship Canal Bridge, though east-west bridges were flowing OK, Treece said. Earlier, a stalled car blocked the Highway 520 floating bridge. A brief power outage caused electrically-powered trolleybuses to stall on First Hill near downtown Seattle.