MARYSVILLE — A Wednesday morning crash that sent four people to the hospital and choked southbound I-5 traffic north of Marysville serves as a reminder to slow down in work zones, officials said.
Washington state averages 837 roadway injuries in work zones each year and such crashes tend to increase in warmer months, when the construction season kicks into high gear. There were seven fatalities in work zones in 2017 and 11 the year before.
The Wednesday crash — involving two semi trucks and a pickup truck pulling a trailer — snarled traffic just south of Smokey Point and a bit north of the Seattle Premium Outlets shopping center. The Marysville Fire District reported that four people from Mount Vernon were removed from the wreck, one of whom had serious injuries. Another was reported in stable condition and two had minor injuries.
The Washington State Patrol reported that a semi truck driven by a British Columbia man crashed into the Dodge pickup pulling the trailer and another semi truck. The pickup and second semi had stopped for merging traffic near a construction zone at 4:23 a.m. The 63-year-old man who was driving the pickup was taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, along with three passengers.
Two lanes of southbound I-5 were closed at the time. The cause of the crash was following too close and the driver was given a traffic citation, according to a State Patrol memo.
The top three reasons for crashes in construction zones are distracted driving, following too close and excessive speed, said Lisa Van Cise, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. The top three kinds of crashes are rear-end collisions, striking an object and sideswiping.
Van Cise urged patience, particularly when it comes to delays in work zones. She suggests drivers consult social media before leaving for work to get a briefing on factors such as construction zones, alternative routes and estimated travel times.
“Everyone has somewhere to be,” Van Cise said. “It’s just remembering when you hit the road that you will eventually get there.”
Three hours after Wednesday’s crash, all lanes were open but the backup was up to 5 miles long before it cleared.
UPDATE 5:56 a.m.: 2 lanes of southbound I-5 south of SR 531 are now open. Only the right lane is blocked. pic.twitter.com/UdWaj4mwjY
— WSDOT Traffic (@wsdot_traffic) May 16, 2018
Caught in the backup were Community Transit and Marysville School District buses, according to the district’s Twitter account.