SPOKANE – Weekday commuters soon will travel more smoothly as they merge onto eastbound Interstate 90 from the Geiger/Grove interchange. Traffic engineers from the Washington State Department of Transportation will activate two ramp meters at the interchange at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 13.
Ramp meters are stop-and-go traffic signals that space out and control the frequency with which vehicles enter the flow of traffic on the freeway.
The ramp meters located at the Geiger/Grove interchange will both be on the on-ramps to eastbound I-90. The first ramp meter will be located at the directional on-ramp from northbound Grove Road, with the second ramp meter located on the loop on-ramp from southbound Grove Road.
Both ramp meters will operate during the same time periods, during the most congested part of the day’s commute. During the weekday commute, hours of ramp metering will begin at 3p.m. and continue through 6 p.m. and a sign will remind drivers during those hours that the meters are in use. Drivers will use the ramp meter light just like a standard traffic light. During metered operations, drivers will form two lanes at the loop ramp meter, stop at the red light and proceed at their lane’s green light. Only one car is allowed per green light. On the directional on-ramp, drivers will only form one lane to then proceed on a green light. During non-metered hours drivers can use the ramps without stopping.
These ramp meters are one of the safety and operational improvement strategies recommended in the Four Lakes to Idaho Operational Study that found collisions have steadily increased over the past five years and are occurring on almost a daily basis. Ramp spacing, weather and poor driving behavior contribute to the majority of the collisions. As traffic volumes increased, so have congestion and collisions at the on-ramp merge points, leading to the decision to implement ramp meters throughout downtown Spokane. Plans include turning on an additional ramp meter in the next month.