Red light, green light: Enhanced ramp meters planned for three Seattle on-ramps to northbound I-5

SEATTLE – Overhead ramp meters are coming to three Seattle on-ramps to northbound Interstate 5 as part of a project that begins Monday, Dec. 4.

Contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will install the new ramp meters at the Swift Avenue South, South Michigan Street/South Bailey Street and Northeast 50th Street northbound on-ramps. The ramp meters will regulate traffic from the HOV lane and the general-purpose lane, replacing existing meters that only regulate the general-purpose lanes.  

What to expect during construction

Construction will happen one on-ramp at a time and require weeknight, single-lane closures at each one. Valley Electric will begin construction at the northbound Swift Avenue South on-ramp. Once complete, work will move to South Michigan Street/South Bailey Street ramp and then Northeast 50th Street.

Intermittent ramp closures of both lanes are likely at each location for the installation of the overhead ramp meter poles. Signed detours will be available during each closure.

Ramp meter benefits

Computer algorithms at each ramp meter determine the duration of each red light based on traffic volumes. Limiting the number of vehicles merging onto the freeway at once results in fewer traffic disruptions, slowdowns and collisions. Ramp meters also reduce travel times by keeping average freeway speeds higher.

Slow down on ice and snow.

It's easier to skid or lose control traveling at higher speeds. Give yourself more time to stop.

Carry chains, practice installing them.

Winter conditions could mean chains are required on your route. Practice putting them on your vehicle ahead of time.

Pack your winter car kit.

Carry extra supplies like warm clothing, ice scraper and brush, jumper cables and other emergency items.