VANCOUVER – Some big changes are coming for drivers who travel Interstate 205 between State Route 500 and Padden Parkway.
Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crews will work overnight Wednesday, Sept. 11, to modify the lanes of northbound I-205 between SR 500 and Padden Parkway, and the I-205 northbound exit to Northeast Gher Road/112th Avenue and SR 500 (exits 30A, B and C).
I-205 lane reconfiguration
Northbound I-205 narrows from three lanes to two at the same location where drivers from SR 500 merge onto the interstate. These closely spaced merge points consistently cause backups, especially for peak-hour commuters.
Starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, crews will taper the right lane of northbound I-205 so it ends at the Fourth Plain Boulevard overpass. The left lane, which used to end at the SR 500 merge, will become a through lane.
“Swapping a right through-lane for a left through-lane separates the two points where drivers merge,” explained WSDOT project engineer Chris Tams. “This gives everyone more distance for merging smoothly into two lanes.”
To help ease this transition, WSDOT will use message boards and orange barrels to prompt drivers in the right lane to merge left. The barrels and message boards will be in place for a week.
Exit 30 reconfiguration
Today, northbound I-205 drivers who use Exit 30 have to quickly decide whether to travel east or west on SR 500 or exit at Northeast Gher Road/112th Avenue.
“This last-second decision-making translates into a lot of weaving and braking, which slows traffic and causes backups on I-205,” said Tams.
WSDOT’s contractor will reconfigure the exit Wednesday night. When commuters hit the road Thursday morning, Sept. 12, they’ll use the far-right lane of northbound I-205 to access both eastbound SR 500 and Northeast Gher Road/112th Avenue. Drivers one lane over will be able to access westbound SR 500.
“The drivers who really need to pay attention to this change the most are those headed to eastbound SR 500,” said Tams. “They have to remember to stay in the far-right lane to make their exit.”
These improvements are part of the $2.2 million I-205, SR 14 to I-5 Concrete Rehabilitation project. The project is funded through federal dollars and scheduled for completion late this summer.