SEATTLE -- The storm that moved through Seattle earlier this month brought winds so strong that the SR 520 Bridge had to be closed. Now for the first time, we’re hearing the 911 calls from the drivers who were on the bridge.
The calls started coming in just before 11 am on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Operator: “911, what are you reporting?”
Caller: “I am stuck on the Evergreen Point Bridge going west, all the traffic stopped because the wind is blowing so much. How do I get off the bridge, or what’s going on with the bridge? Are they closing it?”
Operator: “No, people should just be driving. I don’t know why cars are stopping.”
Vehicles were stopping, because the bridge was swaying. Some drivers got out of their cars because they thought the waves were going to crash over them.
Operator: “Is it not safe for you to drive over the bridge?”
Caller: “I don’t feel it is safe to drive over.”
Operator: "Are you outside your car?"
Caller: "I am, I've moved up to where the bridge isn't moving."
The 911 operator convinces this driver to get back in her car. But she still questions the safety of the bridge.
Caller: “Do they not usually close the bridge when it gets to be a certain wind?”
Operator: “Yeah, it has to be a certain, it has to be a certain wind speed for them to close it. So if it hasn’t reached that speed yet, then they won’t.”
Caller: “OK, alright, if you think this thing is gonna hold.”
Operator: “Yeah, it will.”
According to the Seattle Times, about 50 drivers left their cars on the bridge that day.
Caller: "The 520 bridge, is it safe to cross? Everyone is abandoning their cars.”
Operator: “Hold on a second.”
Caller: “It is really bad. We’re on it. I’m worried that I need to abandon my car.”
Operator: “DOT has not officially closed the bridge yet.”
Caller: “I think they should everyone is abandoning their car.”
Operator: “We’re aware of it, they have to assess the situation and the wind speed. Then they determine when they close it.”
Caller: “Okay, the bridge is shaking.”
Operator: “I understand, we have multiple reports we are watching on the camera. DOT is aware of it.”
The Department of Transportation did eventually close the bridge, and troopers helped the drivers who were there get off. They say their policy is to shut the bridge down if there's 50 mph winds sustained for at least 15 minutes.