As metering of Snoqualmie Parkway I-90 onramp faces criticism, WSDOT says will monitor, adjust as new normal is found

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.

Backups on Snoqualmie Parkway, 12/9/19 during the morning peak commute. Photo: Snoqualmie Ridge Facebook page.

Comments

  1. This particular meter, of course, makes congestion on I-90 worse–not better–because it forces drivers to merge into I-90 at dangerously low speeds. On-ramp meters are supposed to have the opposite effect!

    Also, during non-peak times, no one ever stopped at the intersection traffic lights anyway, because right turn on red is legal.

    • AVG 0-60 time is about 8 seconds. I haven’t driven the new metered ramp yet but are you saying from the meter, to the point where you merge onto the freeway, is less then 8 seconds away?

      • Don’t you mean 70?

        • 70 is the speed “LIMIT”, so 60-65 “should” be sufficient speed for merging. I do realize that how people actually drive and how they are supposed to drive are different things.
          What I’m interpreting from the comments and driving experience is a society issue, not following traffic laws, slower traffic not keeping right, not “wanting” to accelerate hard, etc.. Not so much the mechanics of the ramp itself. Do you think having a Trooper out their on a regular basis enforcing traffic laws would change the merging issue?
          Again I haven’t driven it myself, I’ll have to check it out. It’s possible that it is completely out of wack and was a waste of money. *Shrug

      • You need to make it to at least 70, ideally 75 to merge without issues. That takes about 15-20 seconds when driving like a normal person (not pushing the car to It’s limits and consuming an unnecessary amount of fuel).

      • I think it’s about more than just the 0-highway speed ramp-up time:
        The highway speed limit at this exit is 70 MPH.
        The ramp onto the highway is uphill, which increases the time to max speed.
        Additionally, there are two lanes, so one can’t just “gun” it, as you have to check where the car in the neighboring lane is.
        On top of this, cars on the highway do not always merge out the right lane before arriving (even before this change, I noticed that seemed to happen more frequently in the past few months), which causes additional slowing at the onramp.

    • You know you have to stop before a right on red, right?

      • Willy Peter says

        With respect, have you been down that road? You can ONLY go right in the new on ramp lane. You can’t go straight onto 18 at all with the barriers in place. Why is that light still there? It’s a free right! Unless you are saying that the red light SHOULD be maintained, thus not even eliminating any positive benefits of the new on ramp that were touted by engineers and politicians. They just removed the merging traffic coming from the S (going N) onto I90 and the parkway lane going S and put the merge further down the road (closer to I-90) and put ANOTHER LIGHT in the way, thus adding more barriers to merge. Traffic control is NOT traffic flow. This is just obstructionist in every way. Traffic is worse now then ever and this doesn’t solve anything, just makes it worse on commute mornings.

  2. causes backups in issaquah. what? issaquah is miles away and by the time the metered cars get there, there is plenty of opportunity and likelihood of cars bunching up together.
    this rationale is just completely bogus.

    • Agreed. Is that from the traffic study they based this on? Ridiculous, and a waste of taxpayer money, if so.

      These stoplights are dangerous!

  3. No Meters are not essential as the paper said these are the foot hills not the city of Issaquah and is unlikely to help with any traffic congestion there as that is caused by bottlenecks and poor road design leading up to Eastgate. Any good engineer can see that .

  4. As someone that commutes from east of Exit 25, I’ve noticed a big improvement in traffic between Snoqualmie and Issaquah from the metering and give kudos to WSDOT for the improvement. The metering spaces out the merging traffic onto I-90 at Exit 25 which prevents “waves” of traffic on I-90. There are much less brake lights and slow downs now on the turns going through Preston and into Issaquah on I-90.
    Now if they can also add metering at the Issaquah Highlands on ramp, maybe the flow through Issaquah can also be improved.

    • There is metering on the Highlands onramp – two metered, one HOV, unmetered.

    • You must be a shill for WSDOT and Issaquah Highlands has been metered for years. There have been no improvements for drivers this week. Metering makes no sense when I90 at our on ramp is always moving at highway speeds. The changes made to the on ramps would make a huge positive difference if they turned the metering lights off.

  5. Bottom Line…you use more gas idiling in line at the meters..so more tax revenue for the state. Have you ever noticed that when a draw bridge is up they expect you to turn off your car so you don’t idle…but yet they have no problem with your car idling at the metered stops…government!!!

  6. Willy Peter says

    I posted originally about this in the last report here.

    Why is the red light to go a free right still there? Didn’t they think that they could cover this since it’s a protected lane? You can’t go straight so why not cover this or remove it all together? I’ve seem people slam on their brakes almost causing rear end accidents there.

    Not to mention that the damn Parkway is shredded up now do to the construction. The road is a hazard now. I’ve already got a couple chips in my windshield because they are not cleaning up their work and it’s super bumpy. Crap work done in a rush.

    The metering causes a dangerous issue with people merging (at the last minute) going from 0-50 to merge and then at the last second gunning it to highway speed – creating more backup!! Ya, you know who you are. You are probably reading this now. I see you already posted at the top that 70 is the “speed limit”. Sheesh. Other cars and mostly semis in the left lane are already doing 70. You have to speed up to “at least” this speed. Then settle into traffic.

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