Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bear with us Kirkland, we’re almost done!

by guest blogger Steve Peer

We are rebuilding the NE 116th Street railroad bridge
(just west of I-405) in phases to avoid completely closing it.
To keep traffic moving (although slow), crews have reduced
the bridge to two lanes as part of the first phase of construction.
Doing this has caused periods of severe congestion in the area. 
Totem Lake residents – have you been wondering what we are doing on NE 116th Street near 120th Avenue NE? Tired of the backups? Bear with us – things will get better by the end of the month.

For the past year, we’ve been building the I-405 – NE 116th Street Interchange and Street Improvement Project. Once complete, the project will improve how drivers get to and from I-405 at NE 116th Street and reduce NE 116th Street backups during the morning and afternoon commutes.

As you may have noticed, the project is bringing short-term term pain to area drivers. Since April, a couple of highly-used turn lanes on NE 116th Street near 120th Avenue NE have been closed as crews work to completely rebuild the bridge over the railroad. The result has been periods of severe congestion in the area. We’ve heard from drivers who tell us they’re simply avoiding the area. The good news is that both turn lanes will re-open to traffic in the next few weeks. While there will still be construction in the area, travel times should return to near normal.  We appreciate your patience as we finish this important phase of work.

When the project wraps up at the end of the year, we will have added:
  • three lanes to sections of NE 116th Street,
  • two bicycle lanes, 
  • newly planted native trees and plants, 
  • new sidewalks, 
  • a new water detention pond for better, greener water runoff, and
  • improved area lighting for pedestrians.  
We’ll also add by subtraction. When the project opens up in December, drivers will notice one less traffic signal in the area. Drivers will use a consolidated single point traffic flow system (pdf)  (instead of two) allowing for a smoother ride going to and coming from I-405.

Visit the project website for more information about key project elements and benefits.


Nick said...

Hi Steve. I hate to be the one to break this to you so late in the game but you won't be subtracting any traffic signals. There are 2 there now (if you count the 120th one) and there will be 2 when you are done. Maybe if you'd answer your emails we could have cleared this up a long time ago.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for the comment, Nick. There are three signals currently in the area that I referred to in the post. One at the northbound I-405 off-ramp, one at the southbound I-405 on-ramp, and one at the intersection of NE 116th Street and 120th Avenue NE.

When the project is complete at the end of this year, there will be two. One will remain at the NE 116th Ave/120th Ave NE intersection and one will control both the I-405 on- and off-ramp. Check out the second page of this diagram for details.

Nick said...

I appreciate the quick response. I assure you, there is no signal at the southbound I-405 on-ramp. 2 signals only.

WSDOT said...

I should have stated there is one less intersection. Nick is correct - there are not three signals in the area - but there are three intersections. When we wrap up the project at the end of the year there will be two intersections instead of three.

The two intersections will be replaced with a single point interchange for drivers getting on and off of I-405 at NE 116th Street. Left turning vehicles at the interchange (from the northbound off-ramp and onto the southbound on-ramp) will run through a single signalized intersection. Vehicles turning right at the interchange will be able to make free right turns.

Having one signal to control what was once two intersections reduces the amount of red light time vehicles encounter to get on and off the freeway.

The bottom line: traffic will get a lot smoother in the area by the end of the year. Thanks for the note, Nick.

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