WSDOT goes high tech to speed I-5 express lanes switch, save drive timeon July 23, 2012 @ 5:04 am (Updated: 9:33 am - 7/23/12 )
It used to take crews up to an hour to manually switch all of the gates and signs along the 9-mile stretch. But it will now take no more than 15 minutes thanks to the $6.6 million project that employs new Ethernet connections and fiber optic cable.
"The way its going to work now is that we push a button and all of the signs light up, we can visually make sure there's no traffic and then the gates come down," says Jamie Holter, with the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The change will allow nearly 1,000 more cars to use the lanes and reduce traffic congestion that builds up on the mainline when the lanes are closed for the switchover.
"When you have all this extra space in the express lanes, it frees up space for other people," says Holter. "You're going to have more people using the express lanes which means they won't be using the mainline, which means people on city streets will be able to get to the freeways faster."
WSDOT estimates the smoother commute with save drivers about six minutes between Northgate and the Swift/Albro exit.
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