Ready, Set, Ticket | Police Set to Nab Lane Violators at Bottlenecked I-90/SR 18 Interchange

Let’s call a spade a spade. The I-90/SR 18 interchange sucks, especially during peak commute hours.  There’s really no nice way to put it.  Even yesterday morning with light traffic because of Memorial Day, it took 10 minutes to go one mile from my home and enter eastbound I-90.

It seems the traffic issues at the busy I-90/SR 18/Snoqualmie Parkway interchange are never ending. The time of the day often dictates what [illegal]  “shortcuts” various drivers will attempt.

In the morning, when the right turn only lane onto westbound I-90 from Snoqualmie Parkway is backed up for 1/2 – 1 mile, some drivers will drive in the adjacent open lane and then cut into the right turn lane at the last minute infuriating waiting drivers – or get in the eastbound I-90 left turn lane only to pull a sometimes illegal u-turn to get back to the non-congested turn lane for westbound 90.

In the afternoon, when traffic is backed up onto eastbound I-90 for 1/2 -1 mile with vehicles waiting to access westbound SR 18, drivers will stay in the left turn lane and then take an illegal right turn around the median toward narrow SR 18, making the traffic backup at the interchange and over Tiger Mountain worse.

Right Turn Only Violators Spark Complaints to Police

As the interchange has become more congested, traffic violators have gotten more creative.

And it seems another violation is drawing the attention of citizens, resulting in numerous complaints to the Snoqualmie Police Department: right turn only violators on Snoqualmie Parkway in the restricted westbound I-90 entrance lane.

According to Policer Chief Steve McCulley, his department continues to respond to issues with these right turn only violators, explaining drivers are stopping in this restricted lane for westbound I-90, waiting for the green light and then proceeding straight (southbound) onto SR 18.

These traffic violators cause increased backups on Snoqualmie Parkway (and the entire intersection) during rush hour traffic. According to Chief McCulley, the restrictive markings for the right turn only lane  are very worn and in need of repainting, which could also be contributing to some of the traffic-causing violations.

This section of Snoqualmie Parkway is just outside the Snoqualmie city limits and requires some help from the Washington State Patrol (their jurisdiction) for enforcement – and it seems that is set to happen.

Lane violators beware, police are set to address this continued issue at busy interchange. Chief McCulley stated via email that the Washington State Patrol (WSP) will be conducting emphasis patrols (timing not revealed), as well as working with WSDOT to get the restrictive lane markings repainted and improve the signage visibility in the busy area.

Short-term Help, Long-term Improvements Possible

Will this solve all the rush traffic issues at the congested interchange?  Probably not, but it will most likely help. If the Washington State Legislature can pass a transportation bill during this 2015 session, hope may be on the way, though.

State Representation Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) stated earlier this month that if the Senate and House can pass a transportation bill this year, $211 million dollars of the proposed $15 billion package will be earmarked to improve the I-90/SR 18 interchange. (See earlier story on the topic HERE.)

The legislature is currently in the last week of a 30-day special session, as it could not agree on a two-year operating budget that fully funds education per the McCleary Supreme Court decision or a transportation bill to improve roads during the 105-day regular session.


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  • $211 million!?! Don’t get me wrong, I HATE this interchange and use it twice daily, but $211 million to fix just one interchange? That is ludicrous!!! That has to either be a mistake, or we are in the end times. In which case, any of you people who pass that mile-long line-up of cars waiting their turns to turn right onto the 18 have very little time left to repent. REPENT PEOPLE!!! THE END IS NIGH!!!

    1. The $211 million only deals with the first phase of the project – widening the approach to Tiger Mountain and adding flyover ramps westbound at the interchange…. and the $211 million only makes a dent in what WSDOT estimates it will take to widen SR 18 to four lanes from 90 all the way to Issaquah Hobart Road. I believe that estimate is $800 million for the total project. The past nickel gas tax helped pay for the planning and environmental studies to come up with the roadway redesign in this area. And yes, it’s super expensive. Seems all big projects are these days. There’s more info on the plan at WSDOT website.

  • actually… half the problem is the Timing of the Lights. although there would still be congestion it could be eased tremendously with a different sequence on how the lights from I-90 to 18… . Its the main culprit.

    1. It seems if that were the case it would’ve been done by WSDOT. WSP, WSDOT and city officials have had numerous mtgs about the intersection over past couple of years, including an on site mtg. Would hate to think they haven’t tried this option before asking for millions to improve it.

      1. Try watching the congestion and the timing of the Lights! Its horrendous!

      2. Agreed the timing of the lights will not make a huge difference but it would help some. I90 west turning onto 18west is favored to Snoqualmie traffic going straight by about 50% more.

  • I’m glad they are finally going to do something about this. It’s so frustrating to wait your turn and have someone else decide they have the right to pass everyone else and cut over last minute. If you commute long enough you see that it’s the same cars that do this over and over again and it’s caused many road rage incidents and near accidents.

    I don’t know if the hospital is going to eventually have an access road further up the hill, but if not, getting to the emergency room is going to be a nightmare.

    1. The consensus is you do not want to go to that hospital go to Swedish in the highlands

  • Danna- Thanks, as always, for the timely & excellent reporting. The I-90 / SR18 backup is very dangerous, especially during the afternoon commute. In fact, that whole intersection is dangerous. Is there anything that we as residents can do to encourage the Legislature to fund these improvements? Besides contacting Jay Rodne, are there other names that we could email or send letters to?

  • For much less money they could ease the congestion by simply widening 18 on both sides of 90 allowing both lanes to go straight and have another right lane only turn on 90 west from Snoqualmie parkway. Also add a right turn lane from 90 onto Snoqualmie parkway. The lane gets backed up with trucks turning left onto 18. I agree with Bobby above. If they shorten the left turn lane from 18 to 90 west there would be more time for people to go straight on 18 but the backup on 18 blocks those cars from moving through so widening 18 is needed. And frankly most drivers I see going straight instead of turning right don’t really block traffic. People get mad just because they are jealous and don’t dare do it themselves. As long as the intersection is a mess give people a break for being creative and tell people that complain to shut up. Also, let people turn right from 90 onto Snoqualmie parkway in the margin. All those trucks turning left block the right lane and there is plenty of room to use the margin. Everyone does it now anyway when the police aren’t around. It’s not a safety issue at all.

  • What about the buses? I see metro buses cheat, too. They use the left lane on the parkway until they get to I90, then they cut in and make a right hand turn to get on the westbound on ramp! Unbelievable.

    1. Buses have the right of way! If you don’t let them in you can be ticketed.

      1. Busses do not have the right away to simply use the left lane on the parkway to pass the cars in the right turn only lane and then cut in to the right lane to merge at the last minute to cut off everyone else in line in the right lane. These busses should be ticketed just like any cars!

  • A few years ago this intersection wasn’t a problem yet – it’s only because you and I chose to move and commute from here that this spot has become an issue. No one forced us to move here – so I don’t understand why anyone would expect other tax payers to pay for the consequences of our choices. We the residents of Snoqualmie Ridge should pay for any improvements.

  • The widening of Hwy 18 from I90 to the Tiger Mt summit will do the most to help congestion.
    Some food for thought: There is a cost to development to make sure proper infrastructure is in place. However, it is often ignored due to the additional cost to developers, cities and residents. If you have traveled I405 you would experience the same congestion with road work being done continually for over 25 years with little to no relief during peak hours.
    P.S. I have seen those illegal moves! It is about time someone steps up to hand out tickets!

  • Before a final decision in the widening of HWY 18 from I-90 is finalized, keep in mind that this is no easy matter to give taxpayers a bill that will add to a total of approximately $800 million dollars ( guess estimate only) to what the pundits say will only cost $211 million. “Widen now and pay later” is not the mantra we want to hear.
    I am all for easing congestion in our Snoqualmie community but find ways to find that balance in the equation.

    1. It is my understanding from WSDOT website that the project would need to be done in phases. The first phase is the estimated $200 million which would add some of the flyover ramps (WB first) and widen 18 from 90 thru Deep Creek. The remaining work of complete widening to Issaquah Hobart and more flyover ramps would be completed later when additional funding was secured. They can’t afford to do the full $800 million project yet. Hence the phasing discussed on WSDOT

  • My question is, WHY DID WE MOVE THE HOSPITAL to where more people need to use that exit to access the hospital??????????????????????? And what provision is there going to be for people making a hospital emergency run to get off the westbound exit? Absolutely moronic.

  • Snoqualmie residents. I timed the wait to turn right to westbound i90. 4 minutes. You guys are getting so worked up over 4 minutes and people cutting in. Even funnier is that our mayor convinced the state to spend 800M to solve our 4 min. problem.

  • These are all very valid points. However, there are really two issues here involving more than just 98065 folks.
    1 – Snoqualmie residents have to wait 4-10 minutes in the westbound AM commute, depending on the time of day, to turn right onto 90 west. They have to brave the right lane traffic stopped waiting to turn right onto 18, eastbound on the PM commute. Meh. Take it easy on the commutes.

    2 – All other folks traveling 18 to turn left onto 90 west have TWO lights to wait through in the AM commute. Then, they have to wait to travel 18 over Tiger Mt. during the PM commute on 90 right lane stoppages and congested 18 in front of the hospital entrance, all the way up the mountain. Through THREE lights. The Tiger Mt. stretch of 18 has been hazardous for years.

    I think it’s only a matter of time a deadly wreck occurs 90 eastbound in the right lanes, unless something is done about the traffic stoppage there. 🙁

    There are other ways around the intersection. I’m looking for the improvements in downtown Snoqualmie to be completed. It’s a nice drive to go the long way around and enter 90 by way of North Bend Way, passing the casino. And coming home shouldn’t be too bad either. This could balance the traffic load on both ends.

    98065 isn’t just “The Ridge”, people! We live in such a beautiful place with a neat little town by the river. See more of it. 🙂

  • I wish they were really doing this. I really feel frustrated watching people cut in on I-90, even when I’m just driving past. This would be a good place to put lane dividers so people can’t play the “wait for a slowpoke to leave me enough space” game.

  • Living Snoqualmie