Monday, July 18, 2016

How a new interchange reduces backups and improves travel times in east Vancouver

By Tamara Greenwell

Does this sound familiar? You're driving down Interstate 205 in Vancouver and traffic near the Mill Plain off-ramp is backed up onto the freeway. Or how about this? You're merging onto I-205 to head north from Mill Plain Boulevard… and because of the backup you don't know if you should speed up or slam on your brakes to enter the freeway.

These are things we know are a problem, but these will soon be a distant memory. Why? Because after 329 days of construction, a new interchange connecting I-205 to Northeast 18th Street will open this week and help make things better.

Really, how?
The I-205 and Mill Plain Boulevard interchange is the busiest in Clark County, with more than 100,000 vehicles using this stretch of interstate daily. If you drive through this area, you'll notice there isn't an on- or off-ramp for three miles between Mill Plain Boulevard and State Route 500. When the new Northeast 18th Street ramps open this Wednesday, that distance will be cut in half.

What's it look like?
New I-205 northbound off-ramp to Northeast 18th Street
You'll have a new access point into east Vancouver, which means less vehicles using Mill Plain Boulevard and SR 500.

New I-205 southbound on-ramp from Northeast 18th Street via a roundabout
For the first time ever, you'll be able to get onto southbound I-205 from Northeast 18th Street. We built a roundabout at the intersection, so you won't have to wait through a light to get onto the highway. The roundabout also keeps local traffic moving through the area.

New southbound I-205 off-ramp to Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard
The longer separated off-ramp takes traffic off the interstate sooner and reduces backups onto the mainline. Slowdowns and collisions often occur near merge areas. By separating the on- and off-ramps there's more distance for drivers to merge or exit, without crossing paths with traffic doing the opposite, which means fewer crashes.

New northbound I-205 on-ramp from Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard
The extended on-ramp gives you more distance to merge onto the interstate, which means more time to accelerate to the speed of traffic.   The end result is an interchange that'll give you a smoother ride with improved travel times and safety. While the on- and off-ramps open this week, additional work to finalize the project, including landscaping, is expected to continue through the end of this year.


Scott Nelson said...

Thanks for the article! As a former Washingtonian, I am very familiar with the congestion in the area and glad to see WSDOT addressing it. Out of curiously, what is the source of the funding?

WSDOT said...

Scott, this $40.6 million project was funded by the 2005 Transportation Partnership Program.

Unknown said...

Great job, WSDOT! I have been hoping for an interchange like this since living in the Burton-Evergreen area for 16 years. Thanks for posting this informative blog to understand exactly how this new interchange will work.

Helena said...

It must be nice to see WSDOT actually try and fix something. In the Seattle metro they have 0 credibility after they implemented the biggest disaster in transportation history, the extortion toll lanes on I405. They have made traffic congestion much worse and they are still refuse to admit it. So if you hear anyone try and propose adding an extortion toll lane to any freeway in the Vancouver area, it is a sham and will only make congestion worse. Adding general purpose lanes is the answer and not toll lanes.

Vince R said...

I second that opinion. GTG has definitely made traffic worse along the 405 corridor. The real problems were mostly ignored in favor of making money.

- It has increase high-speed weaving traffic
- Added confusion to our roads
- Reduce speeds, and has increased both travel times and congestion, on the general purpose lanes
- Has hit $10 tolls on a frequent basis
- Is not performing as it was estimated, both in terms of usage or impact

To further complicate matters, the reports coming out of WSDOT paint a pretty picture, but do not represent reality.

If they propose a project like this in your area, make your voices heard clearly and loudly to your representatives. Your money would be better spent on projects like the one mentioned above instead of GTG like projects.

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