Seattle Police Department has finally decided to enforce gridlock laws.
It’s about time. Blocking the box is rampant on city streets in Seattle, especially at peak hours, because drivers know the likelihood of being ticketed is zero. But it is the number one “driving don’t” because a single blocked intersection at the wrong time can create a plume of stacked traffic that remains for hours.
KCTS 9 has suffered the "Mercer Mess" for years from our location on Seattle Center's campus, where the SDOT says around 600 cars a day end up in a gridlock. My pet peeve is at 4th and Mercer, where eastbound Mercer St. drivers headed for I-5 often block cross traffic. 4th Ave. N. is our escape route. We asked SDOT to put signs on every corner of that intersection, but they seem largely ignored.
I asked an officer why there was little to no gridlock enforcement in this city. According to her, it is a hard thing to do. There is generally no adaquate place to pull over offenders during a gridlock, so ticketing just makes the traffic situation worse. If you are ticketed while blocking an intersection, it will cost you $136.
SPD can do more to publicized enforcement and remind the driving public that intersection- blocking slows traffic for everyone, and it’s largely preventable.
See our IN Close coverage of five driving do's and don'ts in the video below.
Stephen is a 25-year veteran of KCTS, producing a wide range of cultural and public affairs series, documentaries and arts programming. His credits include PIE, Something in the Water (PBS feature on Seattle’s indie music scene), the gala opening of Benaroya Hall, and documentaries on Asahel and Edward Curtis, Dan Sullivan and Doris Chase. Seattle-born, Hegg is a graduate of Whitworth University and is also an accomplished violinist and avid cyclist.More stories by Stephen Hegg