Temporary lane configuration still causing problems for I-90 drivers

Apr 26, 2018, 7:57 AM | Updated: 5:38 pm

A temporary lane configuration created by the “Revive I-5” project continues to cause big problems for drivers on I-90.

WATCH: What’s causing I-5 backups in Seattle

Odd traffic patterns began appearing Monday morning about mid-way through the commute. The westbound lanes of I-90 were backing up earlier than normal, and travel times increased significantly. This all happened with no accidents or stalls along the way.

Drivers reported the lanes at the west end of I-90, where it connects to northbound I-5, were all screwed up. The new lane configurations were to blame.

We’ve seen the same backups every morning this week, with the delays across Lake Washington reaching 40 minutes at times.

So what happened?

The state tweaked the configuration inside the collector-distributor lanes. Those are the lanes that drivers access to downtown Seattle exits and connect to northbound I-5. The lanes were re-striped and the lane that drivers use to exit at Madison Street was turned into an exit-only lane.

Under normal conditions, when drivers exit I-90 to access northbound I-5, they have two lanes as they join the collector-distributor lanes. When they pass the James Street exit, you are down to three lanes. And as you pass the Madison Street exit, you have about 1,000 feet before that right lane merges left.

Under the current configuration, you don’t have that extra 1,000 feet to merge. Madison is exit only, and the lane disappears. So drivers who are used to merging late, which is OK under normal circumstances, are forced to merge earlier. It has caused creative merging and unexpected lane weaving, and that is what is causing the huge backups on I-90.

RELATED: Did anyone notice Seattle’s Mercer ramps were metered?

The state is adding new signs Thursday night to help drivers navigate the temporary changes.

But this configuration is going to be with us until the Revive I-5 project is complete.


Photo: Plan on hefty Seattle traffic this weekend whether you plan to drive or take the light rail....

Micki Gamez

Traffic alert: Revive I-5, light rail closures this weekend

Plan on hefty Seattle traffic this weekend whether you plan to drive or take the light rail. Revive I-5 and light rail work is going on.

18 hours ago

wsp hov lanes dummy...

Frank Sumrall

WSP: Driver caught using impressive dummy to evade fines while using HOV lanes

A Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper ticketed a man for driving in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes with a fake "dummy" passenger.

2 days ago

spanaway loop pacific avenue...

Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Pierce County’s Spanaway Loop shortcut to close for four months

Spanaway Loop Road avoids all the congestion on Pacific Avenue, but it's about to go away for four months due to a major sewer line improvement.

2 days ago


Chris Sullivan

WSF Chief on feasibility of new diesel ferries: ‘There isn’t a ferry dealership down the road’

Getting new ferries is essential, so what about the idea of building or buying some diesel boats quickly while we wait for the electric-hybrids?

4 days ago

Photo: A Milton officer was severely injured while he was trying to take down a suspect on Wednesda...

Micki Gamez

‘This is an ongoing effort:’ King County officers report 36 DUIs in one weekend

Last weekend King County officers conducted a mobile impaired driving unit to get drivers under the influence off the roads.

8 days ago

Image: A multi-vehicle collision including a semitruck on Interstate 5 in Fife slowed down traffic ...

Steve Coogan

1 killed in multi-vehicle crash on I-5 south in Fife; morning traffic affected

The Washington State Patrol is on the scene of a deadly multi-vehicle crash that occurred on I-5 south in Pierce County early Friday.

8 days ago

Temporary lane configuration still causing problems for I-90 drivers