Since the new onramp lane to westbound I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway opened last Friday, December 6, 2019, the reviews have been mixed.
Friday – usually a light commute day – brought praise. But Monday morning’s commute brought criticism, as the long Snoqualmie Parkway backups the new onramp lane was designed to improve, did not appear to change things much.
The complaints stem from the new onramp meters, which are on during the peak morning commute – usually 7AM – 9AM. This past Monday, December 9th, saw the same long traffic backups to Jacobia Street at 7:30AM.
Pictures and complaints were posted to social media. Many requested the meters be shut off, saying they’re unnecessary and make things worse. Others questioned the investment of $1.1 million into a project that [initially] appears to just shift the backup to a new location while reducing the amount of space to enter I-90 at freeway speed.
We reached out to WSDOT to see if they have any plans to reconsider the metering of the restructured onramp. The said the meters are essential.
According to WSDOT Communications Manager Bart Treece, they have been keeping a close eye on how the new auxiliary ramp is working and have noticed some improvement in the overall time backups exist on Snoqualmie Parkway.
Treece commented, “The typical morning backup on Snoqualmie Parkway is up to SE Jacobia Street until 9:00 a.m. or later. Today [Monday], we noticed it was down to SE 99th Street by 8:15 a.m.”
Treece admitted there is an adjustment period whenever WSDOT activates a new meter. He commented, “During the commute this morning, we made changes to make this meter less restrictive. We will continue to monitor and adjust as needed.”
WSDOT plans to continue monitoring and adjusting the meters as needed, but said it will take time for morning traffic to find a new normal. WSDOT also plans to keep collecting data and monitor performance of the ramp.
Treece said metering of the onramp is essential due to the existing congested conditions on I-90 through Issaquah. He commented, “Without this, the backups and the travel times would get worse.”
For those using new onramp lane during non-peak commute times (i.e. when the meter is off), the reviews have been good. There’s no stopping at the light(s), making freeway entrance faster.