Oped | Hey Drivers, Stop Cheating at 90/18 interchange; Start writing for a Solution

Oh I-90/SR 18 interchange, you really have become the spot local residents love to hate. The frustration you inflict during peak commute hours even turns often good drivers into selfish ones looking for short cuts.

That frustration sometimes blurs judgement, leading drivers to pull u-turns right in front of other waiting drivers. U-turns that only make traffic worse – and turn those other waiting drivers into seemingly screaming crazy people behind their closed car windows – calling you names that if you look closely and read lips… well, I can’t say those things here.

Rachel Mark said she waited 30 minutes at exit 25, traveling from westbound I-90 trying to get onto westbound SR 18, on Monday, August 1, 2016.

Why did she wait so long? One word – cheaters.

Rachel said as she finally got to the front of the line waiting for that magic green light to make a left turn and head toward Tiger Mountain, five cars heading toward Snoqualmie Parkway pulled u-turns at the light-controlled intersection, blocking it – and ruined her chance to make it through the light.

And of course drivers would pull u-turns at this spot – because if they headed up Snoqualmie Parkway to turn around, they would then be forced to wait in another long line of waiting cars – a Snoqualmie Parkway line that commonly pushes a half mile back to Jacobia Street.

Come on people. You aren’t the only one waiting. You aren’t the only one frustrated. Wait your turn just like everyone else.

Cars making 'cheater' u-turns at the interchange of the westbound I-90 off ramp (exit 25) to WB SR 18.

Cars making ‘cheater’ u-turns at the interchange of the westbound I-90 off ramp (exit 25) to WB SR 18.

 ‘Waiting on I-90 is Dangerous’

I hear you out there. You’re saying but it’s not safe to wait on I-90 as 70mph traffic zips by. We get that. But if safety is truly the worry and you don’t want to wait in the westbound SR 18 lineup on I-90 – then don’t pull that ‘slap-in-the-face’ u-turn in the intersection. Instead, drive up Snoqualmie Parkway, turn around in a safe spot and wait in the line on Snoqualmie Parkway.

Making u-turns in the 90/18 lighted intersection only makes traffic worse.

I hear you. The intersection is horrible. The state needs to do something. It’s dangerous. It’s something most commuters agree on – even local state representatives agree. But breaking the rules isn’t going to fix the problem any sooner.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson said WSP is well aware of the issues at the intersection. That is presumably why many Snoqualmie residents noticed an increased WSP presence at the interchange last week – one week after a fiery collision nearly took a woman’s life at exit 25.

Residents excitedly reported on Facebook that troopers were pulling over some of those cheating drivers, giving them what appeared to be an earful on the rules of the road. Unfortunately, Trooper Johnson said they just don’t have the manpower to be at the interchange everyday – or to ‘babysit’ it. They have to rely on drivers to follow the rules.

Trooper addressing a driver at he 90/18 interchange the week after a fiery collision nearly took a woman's life near exit 25.

Trooper addressing a driver at he 90/18 interchange the week after a fiery collision nearly took a woman’s life near exit 25.

Longterm Fix Years Out, How you can Help

With longterm improvements years away and the summer travel season in full swing, patience is required. Everyone is the same boat of frustration.  It may seem justified to cheat – pull that u-turn – but in the end, it’s only making the congestion worse – and only keeps other drivers waiting on I-90 – while that fast-moving traffic zips by – longer.

Here’s an idea: as you sit there in traffic, consider writing your state representatives and ask them to push up the funding for 90/18 interchange improvements. It’s public pressure – and a lot of it – that just might help get the timeline escalated from its currently scheduled 2023 funding.

It’s going to take a lot of voices – telling them it’s dangerous, reminding them of all the accidents on Tiger Mountain and near exit 25 on I-90.  It’s going to take a village of voices – from North Bend, Snoqualmie, Black Diamond, Covington, Maple Valley, Kent, Auburn, etc.

WSDOT knows. WSP knows. City officials know. State reps know. It seems everyone knows the 90/18 interchange needs improving sooner vs. later. Citizen voices are the key to making it happen.

It’s not enough to complain behind the closed windows of your car. Although I fully recognize there is a therapeutic quality to ‘car venting.’ Ask my kids… I am famous for it.

Can’t ‘Show you the Money’ for Seven More Years

The 2015 Washington State Transportation Bill provides $150 million to improve the 90/18 interchange, and widen the SR 18 approach to it. That funding isn’t scheduled until 2023, though. 5th District representatives, senator are working to push funding up by 2-4 years. You can read that earlier story HERE.

Contact info for 5th District Representatives and Senator:

Comments

  1. They just heard from me, again.

  2. Hugh Johnson says

    Most of life’s problems could be solved, or at least made better, if everyone played by the rules. But they aren’t going to. And if they aren’t, them I’m not. It’s an admirable goal to seek change through legislative channels. But between now and then, the aggressive drivers who are willing to bend/break the rules will usually win, or at least get home in time to catch the early news. Human beings, and particularly Americans are largely self centered and have a large feeling of entitlement. I wish I could say I was better than that, but I’m not. #keepingitreal

  3. “as you sit there in traffic, consider writing your state representatives”

    Just to be clear, I believe Danna is not suggesting that we write those messages until we are safely out of our cars — please no writing/emailing/texting while driving or moving slowly thru this traffic mess….

  4. I very much appreciate this article, and I do think we need to fix this more quickly. I’ve been less affected by people making U-turns than by people who sneak into the exit lanes as late as possible. This not only slows down the people trying to exit, it creates a dangerous situation for people in the faster lanes. Going West on I90, people in the rightmost non-turn lane may come upon someone stopped in the lane trying to move right. The result is that everyone, including large trucks, have to use the two left lanes, which people approach at 70mph.

  5. I would also like to point out to Trooper Johnson and the WSP that you don’t have to patrol the area all the time – you just have to do it often enough that people don’t want to take the chance of getting caught.

  6. The response I received from rep. Chad was to contact WSDOT as they are the issue. I was baffled by that pass the buck response since the funding decisions are not with the DOT.

  7. Sheryl Shomler says

    This subject sent me to Issaquah. Last year in the fall, my son was playing football at Mount Si. He was hurt so we headed to I90 West bound sure that we could just make to the Snoqualmie hospital in Snoqualmie. As we entered the freeway it was determined very shortly that a line nearly close to a mile long was the wait line. So as any mother would do, I drove onto to Issaquah. The I90/18 interchange frankly took my dollars I was to spend in Snoqualmie to Issaquah Swedish. I would prefer to keep things as local as possible but this situation made it impossible. Why place a hospital on an exit that has a 30 minute wait?

  8. I drive to Snoqualmie ridge often.The speed limit is 70. Why does that validate drivers to drive 80 mph plus and pass me like it’s a race track along with weaving in and out of traffic. Dangerously cutting in front of people. Then there’s the folks on their cell cell phones like their the only one on the street? Its not safe to pull over on the shoulder folks use the shoulder as a lane. Seriously!! This stretch of the freeway is extremely dangerous. Does anyone besides me follow the safety laws of the road anymore. It appears to be a free for all on I-90. I haven’t even started on the violations on 18.

  9. Your government in action. The reverse of the Midas touch. Everything it touches turns to …. yeah go ahead and write to them. I am sure that will help………not. Truth be told, the only thing that will change this situation is some fatalities. Welcome to the world of Realpolitik.

  10. How many of those drivers would be willing to risk that U-Turn if it cost them $500 to $1000, Ticket and fine them until they bleed.

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