New ramp meter in Spokane begins operating Thursday, July 6

SPOKANE – Commuters will soon start using the new ramp meter installed on the eastbound US 2 on-ramp to Interstate 90. Traffic engineers from the Washington State Department of Transportation will activate the new eastbound ramp meter at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, July 6.

Watch a video about how to use a ramp meter

During the weekday commute, the ramp will be metered from 2:30 - 6 p.m. A sign will remind drivers during those hours that the meter is in use.

Ramp meters are stop-and-go traffic signals that space out and control the frequency vehicles are allowed to enter the flow of traffic on a highway. 

Drivers will use the ramp meter light just like a standard traffic light. During metered operations, drivers will form three lanes at the ramp meter using the right shoulder to form the third lane next to the two existing lanes. Drivers will stop at the red light and proceed at their lane’s green light. Only one car is allowed per green light.

Analysis from WSDOT engineers found that a third lane on the US 2 on-ramp to eastbound I-90 was necessary because it will result in shorter wait times for drivers entering the freeway. 

Approximately half of all drivers traveling eastbound on I-90 from before the US 2 on-ramp use the Walnut/Maple and Division Street exits. Additionally, 45% of drivers traveling using the US 2 on-ramp to eastbound I-90 also use the Walnut/Maple and Division Street exits. The traffic data shows that during the peak hour, an estimated 2,400 vehicles are competing for a place in the outside right lane between the US 2 on-ramp to eastbound I-90 and the Walnut/Maple and Division Street exits.

Ramp meters in Spokane are one of the safety and operational improvement strategies recommended in the Four Lakes to Idaho Operational Study. The study found collisions have steadily increased over the study period between 2013 and 2017. Ramp spacing, weather and poor driving behavior contribute to the majority of the crashes. Comparing the collisions four years before and after the US 195 ramp meter installation in 2019, crashes decreased by 45% during metered operations. Comparing the collisions two years before and after the Walnut/Maple Street ramp meter installation in 2021, crashes decreased by 70%.

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