Why the new I-90 ramp meters didn’t turn on Tuesday morning

Nov 14, 2023, 12:58 PM | Updated: Nov 15, 2023, 11:47 am

Ramp meter...

WSDOT argues ramp meters will help traffic flow. (WSDOT)


I have been warning drivers for years that the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) would be adding ramp meters to the I-90 connection to northbound I-5.

The ramp meters went active today.

According to WSDOT, the meters went active at 6 a.m., but they never turned on or started regulating traffic until well after 9 a.m.  This was quite confusing to me because there were 20-minute or longer delays on northbound I-5 and westbound I-90.  The collector-distributor (c/d) lanes that funnel northbound I-5 traffic to I-90 and the downtown Seattle exits were also backed up solid.

More Chokepoints: WSDOT claims it’s ready for mountain snow

Big even with this gridlock, the ramp meters never activated.


I went to WSDOT for an answer, and here is where traffic management and traffic engineering can get a little confusing, especially for those of us who are not experts in it.

WSDOT told me I needed to look at the point where the collector-distributor (c/d) lanes dump out onto northbound I-5, not the congestion getting to that point.  The goal of the meters is to ease the flow at that point, closer to Olive Way under the Convention Center, not to make congestion better in the c/d lanes ramps.

That spot on northbound I-5 didn’t start bogging down until after 9 a.m., and that’s when the meters turned on.

The meters will continue to be active from 6 a.m. until after the afternoon commute ends.  They just might not be on.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints here. You can also follow Chris on X, formerly known as Twitter. Head here to follow KIRO Newsradio Traffic’s X profile.


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