A multiple-car collision on northbound Interstate 5 blocked early traffic and a semi overturned at the Highway 167 and I-405 interchange.
A multi-vehicle crash that authorities say was caused by driver inattention closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 through downtown for nearly an hour during Tuesday morning’s rush hour.
The accident, which happened about 8:20 a.m., sparked a truck fire, according to the Washington State Patrol. There were no serious injuries, according to Trooper Chris Webb, but a 67-year-old male was taken to Harborview Medical Center as a precaution.
The crash was caused when a pickup driver dropped his cell phone and looked down to pick it up, Webb said. When the pickup driver looked back up, traffic had stopped and he was unable to avoid crashing into the car in front of him. A third vehicle also was hit.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) reversed the direction of the express lanes from southbound to northbound to help relieve the congestion after the accident cleared.
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The collision on I-5 was one of several crashes that caused major slowdowns Tuesday morning across the Seattle area. WSDOT reported multiple incidents on freeway ramps, including a semi-truck that overturned on the ramp from northbound Highway 167 to southbound Interstate 405 in Renton at about 9:15 a.m.
The truck was reported to be carrying canned fish, but none of the load spilled onto the roadway, Webb said. The driver suffered cuts and scrapes and may have broken his arm.
More accidents and collisions occur on the first rainy day after a stretch of sunny ones because oil slicks build up on the road and wreak havoc when it’s wet, Webb said.
At one point the westbound traffic on Interstate 90 into Seattle was backed up all the way to Bellevue. Surface streets around the area also were clogged, contributing to several more crashes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.