Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published April 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 23, 2007 at 2:01 AM

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Bumper to Bumper

Q&A | Bottleneck near Eastgate | Ramp restrictions

Q: Mark Allen, a computer-support technician, isn't looking for a job as a traffic engineer. But he does think he has an idea that might...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Dear Reader

Got a traffic-related question or comment?


E-mail bumper@seattletimes.com or call Charles E. Brown at 206-464-2206. Please include your name and city if you agree to publication.

advertising

Q: Mark Allen, a computer-support technician, isn't looking for a job as a traffic engineer. But he does think he has an idea that might clear up some of the traffic congestion in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 just past Bellevue's Eastgate interchange.

At the busiest times of the day, westbound traffic tends to slow significantly and occasionally stalls west of the interchange, where I-90 traffic meets up with traffic entering I-90 at Eastgate.

At Eastgate's westbound ramp meters — at the end of a roadway alongside I-90 that's known as a collector-distributor — two lanes merge traffic into one, with an additional carpool lane, to funnel traffic onto I-90.

To complicate matters, some of I-90's westbound traffic starts moving into the far-right lane at that point to reach onramps for both directions of Interstate 405. Some traffic entering I-90 at Eastgate starts moving to the far-left carpool lane. And just west of there, some traffic from the 148th Avenue Southeast ramp into I-90 is headed to the I-405 onramps or shifting to a faster-moving lane west toward Seattle.

Allen, of Bellevue, says all those lane changes can make driving hazardous.

Traffic on the ramps from I-90 to I-405 slows when I-405 traffic is slow. That, too, can slow I-90's westbound traffic, particularly in the far-right lane, which happens to be the 148th Avenue Southeast ramp that becomes a short-lived lane that turns into the onramp for northbound I-405.

It is separated from other I-90 lanes by a painted divider marking that, in highways jargon, is called a "gore point."

Dear Reader

Got a traffic-related question or comment?


E-mail bumper@seattletimes.com or call Charles E. Brown at 206-464-2206. Please include your name and city if you agree to publication.

The irony, Allen says, is that during certain times of day, much of the traffic on the collector-distributor seems to be headed for northbound I-405.

That means drivers must merge into I-90 traffic for only a few hundred yards to get past the gore point before it is legal to move to the far-right lane that funnels traffic to I-405.

Allen thinks there's a simple fix: Why not extend the collector-distributor farther west to connect with the 405 onramps? Then traffic entering at Eastgate could stay in that lane to reach the I-405 ramp without merging into I-90 traffic.

"If that required merge was eliminated, traffic would flow much better and be less dangerous," he says. "As it is now, when traffic slows, many people risk getting a traffic ticket (the fine is $380) for cutting across the painted divider."

And he expects the situation to get worse.

What might it be like later this year, he asks, when software giant Microsoft starts moving hundreds of new employees into three seven-story buildings in the Advanta Office Commons, under construction just north of I-90 and east of 148th Avenue Southeast?

A: State Department of Transportation (DOT) traffic engineer Rick Roberts says the state has no plans and no funds to extend the collector-distributor lane.

"However, we are studying I-90 between Bellevue and North Bend to identify possible projects that could improve safety and relieve congestion," he said.

Roberts says Allen's idea is worth looking into, "and I will pass it on to the study team."

When the team's study is finished, and Roberts expects that to be sometime next spring, the state hopes to have a list of short- and long-term safety and congestion-relief projects that may be implemented over the next 20 years as funding becomes available.

The DOT has set up a Web site — www.wsdot.wa.gov/planning/RDP/I90/EastgateTo465th — to give the public a say in the planning process for improvements to the I-90 corridor between Bellevue and North Bend.

Q: I-90's new direct-access ramp between Eastgate and the Factoria area gives traffic in the freeway's carpool lanes direct access to 142nd Place Southeast for a quick connection to the nearby Eastgate Park-and-Ride garage.

But ramp usage does not seem to follow the time-of-day restrictions for the carpool lanes, notes Issaquah resident Mat Chavez.

Since the carpool lanes — the state calls them High Occupancy Vehicle, or HOV, lanes — are reserved for carpoolers and buses only between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m., and open to general traffic the rest of the time, Chavez wants to know why the access ramps aren't also open to solo drivers during off-hours.

A: All HOV direct-access ramps on the Eastside, including the Eastgate one, are reserved for buses and vehicles with two or more people at all times — seven days a week.

That's one of the stipulations of their construction, says state transportation department spokeswoman Laura Johnson.

"These ramps were built using money from voter-approved Sound Transit plans and were designed to safely carry limited amounts of traffic," she said.

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

More Local News headlines...


Get home delivery today!

Video

Advertising

AP Video

Entertainment | Top Video | World | Offbeat Video | Sci-Tech

Marketplace

Advertising