Friday, July 22, 2011
New travel time signs on I-90 answer the question: “Are we there yet?”
The days of wondering how long it’s going to take to travel on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass are now over. In June, we unveiled three signs providing travel times for drivers traveling between North Bend and Ellensburg. The signs, located on eastbound I-90 at milepost 33 and westbound I-90 at milepost 107 and milepost 87, show the current travel time for the 74-mile stretch of the freeway.
So how can drivers use these signs to help them plan their trip over Snoqualmie Pass? Well, when traffic is moving at the posted speed limit or faster and there are no collisions, construction or weather-related delays the minutes shown on the signs will closely match the miles it takes to reach Snoqualmie Pass. However, when delays can add extra time to drivers’ trips the signs will display the added time it will take to get over the pass.
The travel time signs are another tool we are using to aid drivers when it comes to planning their trips over the pass. Drivers will now know whether they are likely to reach their destination on time or whether the trip will take longer than expected.
Drivers can also use the signs to make decisions about whether to stop for gas, get food, take a break or continue on. The signs will trigger drivers to tune into 1610 AM on the radio or have their passengers check the Mountain Pass Web page on their smartphone for more information about current conditions.
If you haven’t already heard, construction on the I-90 Hyak to Keechelus Dam project is in full swing and will be for the next six years. Drivers who regularly commute over the pass can use the new signs to find out how long it may take to get to or from work when closures are in place.
Currently, the times displayed on the signs are provided by a data contractor, INRIX, Inc. of Kirkland, who provides real-time traffic data. We use this data to broadcast travel times on signs eastbound in North Bend and westbound in Ellensburg and Cle Elum. Later this summer, roadway sensors, which count vehicles and detect speeds, will be incorporated into the data provided by INRIX to give drivers an even more accurate picture of how long it’s going to take to get across the pass.