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Transportation

photo: aerial view of flooded road and bridge

This photo of flooding in the Snoqualmie Valley in January 2009 shows the damage that flooding can do to roadways.

Green River Flooding

Plan now for travel

Potential flooding of roadways in the lower Green River Valley could disrupt travel for transit users and drivers. King County’s Road Services and Metro Transit divisions are prepared to help you stay informed and travel safely if flooding occurs. The following information will help you plan now for travel during a flood.

Unincorporated area roads

The King County Road Services Division maintains most public roadways in unincorporated areas (outside city limits). The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for state highways and interstate freeways in Washington. Cities maintain roads within their jurisdictions—including state highways when a city has a population of more than 25,000.

photo: white sign with blue image of flooded house, arrow, and words Flood Evacuation Route

Signs like this mark likely evacuation routes.

Evacuation

Road Services has prepared for potential flooding by working with local cities and the state to identify the least-flood-prone roads that residents could use to evacuate. A map showing these evacuation routes is available on the Road Services Web site. The county and several local cities have installed signs marking likely evacuation routes.

Road closures

King County crews will monitor unincorporated-area roads and close them if flooding makes them dangerous.

Flooded roads could be under water for several weeks, depending on the amount of floodwater and how fast it can drain. County road crews will not reopen roads until they have inspected them for damage, cleared debris and made repairs if necessary. The county will prioritize roads for cleanup and repair according to their overall importance in moving people and goods and providing access to hospitals, fire and police stations, schools and other important destinations.

In some cases, the county will allow temporary use of closed roads so residents can check their homes.

Information about road conditions

To monitor the condition of roads in unincorporated King County, use the Road Alert Web Map at www.kingcounty.gov/roadalert. On this site you can also access Washington State Department of Transportation travel alerts, sign up for e-mail alerts, and view live images from traffic cameras. Road Services has placed additional cameras in the Green River Valley area.

Metro Transit

Flooding in the Green River Valley could affect more than 30 Metro bus routes in parts of Auburn, Kent, Renton, and Tukwila. Depending on its severity, flooding could also have an impact on Sound Transit’s Sounder commuter rail, Link light rail, and facilities such as the Kent Station Transit Center and Tukwila Sounder Station. This could result in more people turning to buses for transportation.

For more information, visit Transit service in flooded areas (Metro Transit).

Flood reroutes

Metro has planned reroutes for bus routes that might be affected by flooding so that it can continue to provide as much service as possible outside flooded areas.

Some bus routes could be suspended if most of the area where they travel is flooded. Buses from suspended routes would be moved to routes that are still operating so they can be used to help meet higher-than-normal demand.

Tools to keep you informed

Metro has new tools to inform customers about changes to bus service because of flooding and other disruptions:

  • Call Metro’s Customer Information Office, 206-553-3000. Translators are available for callers who don’t speak English (wait for a live operator and ask for an interpreter).
icon: Green River Flooding: Are You Ready?

What you can do

Find out how you can get notification if evacuation is necessary. Options for residents of unincorporated King County include:

Plan ahead—you might have only a couple hours notice before floodwaters arrive. Know where you will go if you must evacuate.

Become familiar now with evacuation routes you could use and alternatives that could work if your first choice is not available. Try them out ahead of time.

Print out a copy of the evacuation map and keep it in your vehicle so you can refer to it during an evacuation. A print-friendly version of the map is included in King County’s Green River Flooding publication, available for download in English and six other languages:

Prepare for longer travel times in an actual evacuation, because roads are likely to be congested. Have supplies in your vehicle and keep plenty of gas in the tank.

If roads are closed, do not drive through standing water or around “road closed” signs. This is how most lives are lost during floods.

Keep in mind that floodwater might hide fallen trees or other large debris, downed power lines, and raw sewage or other contaminants.