There’s one thing you can depend on as a Snoqualmie commuter when accessing westbound I-90 around 7:15AM each weekday – a regular traffic backup stretching about a half-mile from I-90, up Snoqualmie Parkway. And if there’s an accident in the area, it can stretch for a mile.
One Snoqualmie resident who works in Issaquah said her commute that should take 15 minutes often takes 30, with the additional time devoted to sitting in Snoqualmie Parkway traffic waiting to access westbound I-90. Once on the freeway, it’s usually a breeze into Issaquah.
When the I-90/SR 18 interchange was designed, Snoqualmie Ridge did not exist. In fact, until Snoqualmie Ridge division II was approved in 2004, traffic condensed to just one lane as Snoqualmie Parkway approached the interchange busy with cars and numerous freight trucks heading to Puget Sound ports.
Adding a second lane to Snoqualmie Parkway on the approach to the freeway helped for a while, but as many commuters will attest to, something needs to happen to ease the traffic congestion approaching the entrance to westbound I-90.
The City of Snoqualmie and Washington State Representative, Jay Rodne, are aware of the traffic problem and are working on a fix; one that could come by moving the Washington State Patrol truck weigh station located along the heavily used exit 25 westbound I-90 on-ramp. Removing the station could make room for a new dedicated, unrestricted and seamless westbound freeway on-ramp lane.
Rodne, a member of the State Legislature Transportation Committee, has drafted a budget proviso for the upcoming 2014 legislative session that would provide funding to relocate the weigh station – possibly to eastbound I-90 near exit 42. He hopes to gain the support of his committee colleagues.
Rodne commented via email, “This is my highest legislative priority in the upcoming 2014 Legislative session.” That two-month session begins on January 13, 2014.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013, at 7AM, Rodne, along with Washington State Patrol (WSP) Chief John Batiste, WSP Captain Mark Dahl, Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson and Police Chief Steve McCulley, met at the weigh station to assess its impact on peak morning traffic and to discuss alternate locations for the station.
Rodne says the early morning site meeting was very productive, with Chief Batiste acknowledging the real need of the State Patrol is an eastbound I-90 weigh station to catch trucks and freight heading east from the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Currently, trucks heading from the busy ports are not weighed until the Idaho border, which can leave many in violation of weight loads all the way across Washington.
There is a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) land parcel at exit 42 that might be suitable for the State Patrol’s needs – along with helping improve their weighing enforcement efforts. Rodne has asked Chief Batiste to work with WSDOT on a land feasibility analysis to determine if exit 42 could work for a new weigh station.
Additionally, Rodne asked that WSP work with his staff and the Department of Transportation to examine other alternatives, including closing the I-90/SR 18 station permanently, as well as the costs associated with all options. WSDOT estimates a $3 million price tag to close current weigh station and Rodne is waiting on the cost estimate for the relocation component. He hopes to have that estimate by January.
Rodne explained that WSDOT and the State Patrol, as key stakeholders, are both interested in relocating the weigh station to an eastbound I-90 location, which helps create a win-win for everyone involved – including Snoqualmie commuters just trying to get on the freeway each morning.
There is no doubt money is tight in the state’s transportation budget, but Rodne is hopeful, stating the costs to relocate the weigh station are small compared to other regional projects.
The funding to add a potential new westbound I-90 on-ramp lane from Snoqualmie Parkway is separate from the weigh station move, but that relocation is a critical first step.
Representative Rodne says he and Mayor Larson will work hard to make the improvements happen and ease the regular traffic congestion felt by many Snoqualmie commuters.