Friday, September 19, 2008

“This project is amazing”

For more than a decade, stop-and-go traffic on SR 202 frustrated drivers and was only expected to get worse with more housing and population growth on the Sammamish Plateau. Nobody likes to sit in traffic.

We recently widened three miles of State Route 202 from SR 520 in Redmond to Sahalee Way to help break the bottleneck on SR 202 – and Johnna Jones (photo above), who commutes on SR 202 is pretty happy about it.

“This project is amazing,” said Johnna about the SR 202 Widening project. Johnna wrote to WSDOT back in April when the first new lanes started to open on SR 202.

We’ve stayed in touch with Johnna throughout the summer and invited her to share her remarks at the SR 202 – SR 520 to Sahalee Way project ribbon cutting event we hosted in Happy Valley yesterday.

With Johnna’s permission, here is what she had to say.

“I live in Fall City and commute to Redmond. All of my commute is on 202.

I have lived in the area all my life (34 years). 21 years of that in the Happy Valley itself. I have seen all the growth in the area and dealt with the traffic that has resulted from it. I remember how bad attempting to get off the plateau was during certain hours of the day. In fact, we lived right off NE 50th St and many times during backups travelers would use our road as a way around it.

The road improvements have given me more time and a less stressful commute. I do not have to wake up so early to get to work on time. I don't purposefully work late so that I can leave after the worst of the traffic has passed. I don't have to be frustrated about just sitting in a long line of cars, not going anywhere! Who wants to start or end their day grumpy because of traffic?

I also want to let you know that it is not just the weekly work commute that has improved. It was getting to the point that reaching Redmond on weekends was becoming a hassle as well, and this too has been remedied.

I have also witnessed the wetlands being destroyed by poor building planning. In addition to improving our roads, you guys have done an excellent job in trying to preserve and protect the streams in the area! Thank YOU!”

Thank you, Johnna. We could not have said it better ourselves.


Anonymous said...

So what's the expected time, given induced traffic, before the new lanes fill up completely? One year? Two years?

What's the expected added pollution from those extra cars due to induced traffic?

Was this even a good idea? It's very rare that four-lane, non-expressway roads are a good idea in the long run -- they generally make it significantly harder for pedestrians to cross, without providing long-term traffic reductions.

There are exceptions -- areas where there are other good reasons why the traffic levels won't just increase to fill the roads. Is there evidence that this was one of those exceptions? Such as a projected downturn in Redmond's economy, perhaps?

Jeff Switzer, WSDOT, said...

Thanks for your comments. WSDOT added a new lane in each direction of SR 202 with the expectation of creating smoother, more predictable commutes for drivers who had been frustrated by a decade of stop-and-go traffic.

The new lanes and improvements on SR 202 give people the option of driving alone, carpooling or taking the bus, biking or walking. We work with transit agencies to teach people about options besides driving alone. When people share a ride, it leaves more room on the road for people who can't or won't share a ride.

Before the work, SR 202 was a congested two-lane rural highway linking two urban areas. Also there were safety challenges with collisions along the route. The new design is meant to reduce collisions.

WSDOT's addition of sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes along the corridor give safe choices for people who don't want to drive.

Besides helping solo and carpool drivers, the smoother flowing traffic is expected to mean better bus travel times for Metro Routes 216 and 269 that serve the Sammamish Plateau.

No one knows whether the new lanes on the road will induce - or create - more traffic than is already out there. The miles of backups showed that demand for more lanes on the road already was there.

Traffic growth is a product of population, housing and job growth -- things controlled by the cities of Redmond, Sammamish, King County and free market economics. WSDOT works to provide a transportation network to serve the traffic with targeted improvements. Traffic also is based on the travel choices people make.

Based on population, housing and job growth patterns predicted for the area, WSDOT estimates traffic will grow on SR 202. People will choose when they want to travel on the road, and that will dictate whether and when the lanes "fill up."

On to pollution. Studies link greater air pollution to traffic congestion and bottlenecks. At times, SR 202 was a bottleneck stretching miles.

WSDOT and the Federal Highway Administration reviewed the expected air quality impacts of the SR 202 project and found it met federal and state Clean Air acts and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Analysis predicts that carbon monoxide produced by cars on the road will be less than the threshold 35 parts per million for one hour and below the threshold 9 parts per million for an 8-hour period.
--Jeff Switzer, WSDOT Communications

Increase Your Web Site Traffic said...


This is a brilliant post! I believe the expected time, given induced traffic, before the new lanes fill up completely will be about 2-3 years.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answers! I'm sure the sidewalks, at any rate, will be a great help -- that does make it possible for people to walk the route (rather than dangerously scary; people have been known to drive just to avoid walking along the shoulders of busy roads).

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