If you have occasion to travel from eastern Washington to the south sound area or back the other way, you may be familiar with Highway 18. Highway 18 provides a handy way to bypass Seattle to connect Snoqualmie Pass and Tacoma.
Highway 18 began as a rural two-lane highway traversing the south side of Tiger Mountain in 1964. The highway soon developed a reputation for having a lot of accidents. In particular, the stretch of road around Tiger Mountain was notorious for car accidents.
In 1992, Washington began the project of widening the highway into a 4-lane freeway. Much progress has been made but there are still sections of the highway that remain two lanes.
The area between I-90 and Issaquah-Hobart Road has not yet been widened and continues to be the site of frequent and serious traffic crashes. Plans are in the works to widen the most dangerous stretch of Highway 18 but lack of funding has stalled completion.
At the Law Offices of Joseph Rome, our Kirkland car accident lawyer represents persons who are injured in auto accidents on the roads throughout King County. We are familiar with the places accidents are more likely to occur and the circumstances that often precipitate crashes.
Recent Traffic Crashes on Highway 18
It is no secret that Highway 18 is one of the most dangerous roads in King County. The Washington State Patrol (WSP) reports they respond to calls on Highway 18 more than any other roadway. Close to 23,000 vehicles travel Highway 18 every day.
Some recent accidents demonstrate the potential danger and urgent need to get the planned improvements completed.
- January 10, 2022 – Serious injuries were reported in a crash between a semi and a pickup that closed Highway 18 just south of I-90 for over an hour.
- January 1, 2021 – A rollover accident near the Tiger Mountain summit injures 6 people and closes Highway 18 for WSP investigation.
- October 6, 2020 – A motorcyclist was fatally injured west of the Tiger Mountain summit after breaking hard and losing control of his bike right at the place where several lanes merge down to one.
- October 12, 2018 – An early morning head-on collision results in 2 fatalities and closes down a 9 mile stretch of Highway 18 between I-90 and Issaquah-Hobart Road.
Why Highway 18 Has So Many Accidents
There are a number of reasons that may combine to make the likelihood of accidents greater on Highway 18. Perhaps the biggest reason is that the road is not constructed adequately – in certain places – to handle the amount of traffic that uses it. Other factors that contribute to the problem include:
- no protective roadway median to divide traffic
- very dark without street lights in places
- roadway curvy with sharp turns
- steep uphill and downhill grades
When Will Highway 18 Traffic Safety Improvements be Finished?
Though Highway 18 has a long history of accidents, the most recent push to prioritize safety improvements was sparked in 2018 when 2 employees of Snoqualmie Casino were killed on Highway 18 in a head-on crash while on their way to work. The casino CEO offered $1 million to help get safety improvements going.
At this time the design phase of the project has been completed but an additional $650 million is necessary to complete construction. Washington legislators are hopeful that the Biden Administration’s bipartisan infrastructure bill may provide some of the needed funding.
In the meantime, state lawmakers are working to try and pass a transportation package that would include funding for the Highway 18 improvements.
While it’s very likely safety improvements will be made on Highway 18, it could still be a while before the project gets funding. The best that drivers can do until then is to be alert to the potential danger and be cautious when driving through areas known for accidents.
The Kirkland car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Joseph Rome understands that there are times when drivers take every possible safety precaution and still end up in accidents. You just can’t predict what another driver is about to do so accidents are inevitable.
Personal injury attorney Joseph Rome has been getting compensation for clients injured in auto accidents for more than 15 years. If you were injured in a car accident and want to make a claim against the person responsible call 425-429-1729 for a free consultation or contact Joseph Rome here and get the compensation you deserve.