One of the most common questions we’ve received regarding the upcoming I-90 expansion joint replacement project is will the express lanes operate only westbound during the lane reductions. The answer: No.
|The I-90 express lanes entrance is located well|
beyond the expansion joint work zone.
- It wouldn’t really help. The I-90 lane closures end well before the express lanes start. It wouldn’t help any traffic bypass the closure or speed things up through the work zone. At the express lanes entrance, there will be three lanes open on the mainline and two others in the express lanes with traffic traveling near the speed limit. It will serve the morning commute as it normally does.
- It would cause serious problems for eastbound drivers. Most of those people going westbound will at some point have to return eastbound. Knowing this, we operate the express lanes eastbound from 2 p.m. until 5 a.m. the following morning. If we kept them westbound during the afternoon commute, Seattle-area traffic, from transit, to carpoolers to single-occupancy vehicles, would grind to a halt. We would see serious backups both directions of I-5, spilling onto city streets, jamming Rainier Avenue and making it very difficult to get out of downtown Seattle. With lower volumes of traffic westbound in the afternoon, keeping the express lanes that direction all day would hurt eastbound traffic significantly without improving westbound.
|Close-up look at I-90 traffic|
If we felt changing the express lanes and running them westbound throughout the closure would help more than hurt, we’d do it. We want to keep traffic moving as well as possible throughout the I-90 work. We’ve adjusted in the past when it makes sense. But in this case, it simply would do more harm than good.