Ramp counters go up five I-90 ramps in Spokane, intended to reduce congestion and accidents

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s a time many drivers dread — rush hour. The Washington State Department of Transportation wants to reduce traffic congestion and accidents by installing meters of ramp.

They are similar to brake lights. A ramp will have two lanes, each with a traffic light in front that will alternate from red to green. On one side, a car with a green light will join the highway. The other channel remains red for approximately four to 15 seconds.

WSDOT says it will help with traffic flow. Five such meters are being installed along the Spokane I-90 corridor. Meters will be on the eastbound ramps of Walnut, Hamilton, Monroe and Division streets. One will also be placed westbound on Division Street to I-90.

Spokane got its first ramp meter in April 2019. It’s on Hwy 195 eastbound on I-90.

Despite the counters’ intentions, many drivers don’t believe they will help. The majority who weighed in on a 4 News Now article said the counters would make traffic worse.

“Maybe, but Merging Walnut into I-90 EB is usually a scary deal because of the cars in that right lane + it could cause a backup on Walnut, which isn’t ideal,” said one Facebook user.

“They don’t work I-90 and 195 proved that,” another user said.

Some drivers say traffic slows down on Hwy 195 at this meter.

However, a few think it is worth having them. Another said they hoped it would reduce accidents.

“They help ease congestion by providing time gaps between vehicles, rather than allowing multiple vehicles to enter the freeway at once,” WSDOT said online. “Studies show that ramp counters reduce crashes by up to 30 percent.”

The meters operate from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Work will result in closures. WSDOT will close one ramp at a time to install the meters. Closures can last from three to seven days.

Construction is expected to be completed in the fall.

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Gerald R. Schneider