Drivers not happy with ramp meter changes near Edmonds
KIRO Radio morning anchor Colleen O’Brien is out on maternity leave, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t giving us news tips. Colleen is fired up about the latest change to I-5 in the Edmonds area, where the state just added a ramp meter from where Highway 104 meets I-5 northbound at the King/Snohomish County line.
I received this text from Colleen on Friday.
“Did they get rid of the HOV entrance from Edmonds to I-5 north?”
I knew there had been some new construction in the area, but Colleen answered, “no it’s re-striped, and they metered it too.”
I did a quick check with the Washington Department of Transportation, and it confirmed this is a permanent change. The state just got rid of the HOV bypass lane, metering both lanes to I-5 north.
“That was 104’s only saving grace, getting on I-5 north quickly,” Colleen texted.
So what’s behind the change?
WSDOT’s Bart Treece told me the old configuration of an HOV bypass lane and one metered lane really wasn’t doing much for the congestion on I-5 northbound. If you’ve driven that spot at all, you know it starts backing up in the middle of the afternoon every day.
“This is a more efficient way of metering the vehicles onto the freeway,” Treece said. “Instead of having a big platoon of vehicles trying to merge into busy, backed-up, slow-moving traffic, you’ve got an even pace of those vehicles heading onto I-5.”
The ramp meters went active on Friday, and that’s when Colleen and other drivers started reaching out to me. I drove that spot Friday afternoon to get a taste for myself. The line at the ramp meters was long. It staggered the traffic a bit more than usual, but the main line of I-5 was still busy, maybe a little less busy than normal. Drivers will just have to get used to the change.
“It will create a steadier flow of traffic onto the freeway and also help those travel times at the peak and at the edge of the peak.”
But gone is that HOV bypass, which Colleen loved so much. As one driver wrote me, “this is [expletive].”