Ramp meters are going up at five I-90 ramps in Spokane, meant to reduce congestion and crashes

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

They’re similar to stop lights. A ramp will have two lanes, each with a light in front that will alternate from red to green. On one side, a car with a green light will merge onto the highway. The other lane stays red for about four to 15 seconds.

WSDOT said this will help with the flow of traffic. Five of these meters are being installed along the Spokane I-90 corridor. The meters will be on the eastbound ramps at Walnut, Hamilton, Monroe and Division streets. One will also be placed going westbound on Division Street to I-90.

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

Despite the intentions of the meters, many drivers don’t believe they will help. Majority who weighed in on a 4 News Now post said the meters will make traffic worse.

“Perhaps, but merging from Walnut into I-90 EB is usually a scary deal due to cars in that right hand lane+ it could cause a backup on Walnut which is not ideal,” one Facebook user said.

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

Some drivers say traffic backs up down Highway 195 at that meter.

However, a few feel it’s worth a shot to have them. Another said they hope it will reduce accidents.

“They help reduce congestion by providing timed intervals between vehicles, rather than allowing multiple vehicles to enter the freeway at once,” WSDOT said online. “Studies show that ramp meters reduce collisions by up to 30 percent.”

The meters turn on from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Construction will cause closures. WSDOT will shut down one ramp at a time to install the meters. Closures can last anywhere from three to seven days.

Construction is expected to wrap up in the fall.

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