One Seattle area tech company jumped into action shortly after a portion of Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Skagit River collapsed Thursday night.
Within minutes, Kirkland-based INRIX had received notifications from the Washington Department of Transportation of the collapse and had put an operations team in place to update its traffic navigation apps and services.
“Within about five minutes of the event happening, we had the road closed to alert all drivers in our services within our network,” said INRIX’s Jim Bak. “We were able to respond pretty quickly.”
One of the challenges of the impacted stretch of I-5 — at least from the traffic navigation standpoint — is that the portion of road does not have cameras or road sensors. State Route 9 and other side roads, which offers an alternative route, also are not equipped with those technologies.
INRIX typically uses information from road sensors and cameras in its app, but it also relies on crowdsourced data from folks driving in certain areas.
And so what is INRIX seeing?
“State Route 9 traffic appears to be moving at the speed limit … We are seeing some traffic at the exit of the re-route, but that’s about it,” he said.
The press attention of the incident, combined with the fact that traffic is typically lighter on a Friday before a holiday, is leading to the minimal delays. But things could get worse as folks head out of town later this afternoon, with things potentially picking up around 1 p.m.
Gov. Jay Inslee has instructed motorists to avoid I-5 unless travel is absolutely necessary, and Bak said it seems as if folks are following that advice.
Longer term, Bak said that the bridge collapse will have a serious impact as the traditional work week commutes begin, noting that 70,000 cars each day go through that stretch of road.
“It is going to cause backups and delay in travel times for an indeterminate period of time,” said Bak, adding that if the entire bridge needs replaced it could take months to replace. He noted that the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota, though a longer span, took about a year to replace.
Founded in 2005, INRIX compiles data from more than 100 million vehicles and devices worldwide.
Previously on GeekWire: I-5 bridge that collapsed into river is already gone from Google Maps