Local Information

Five more ramp meters activating along I-90 through Spokane

Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 06:00

Beth Bousley, communications, 509-990-1504

The new ramp meters will be activated at the following interchanges along I-90 in a phased approach:

  • April 13 - Walnut Street/Monroe Street eastbound onramp
  • April 14 - Browne Street/Division Street eastbound onramp
  • April 15 - Hamilton Street eastbound onramp
  • April 21 - Browne Street/Division Street westbound onramp

The ramp meters are being installed to reduce collisions, relieve congestion and improve the safety of the public traveling not just along the interstate, but throughout the local network. “The ramp meters will balance traffic flow and use of the local and interstate roadways in the Spokane area,” said WSDOT traffic engineer and team lead Glenn Wagemann.

The ramp meters are activated when traffic flow requires them; they will not be used when traffic is light. WSDOT engineers will fine-tune ramp meter operations and closely monitor traffic at each ramp following activation. WSDOT has created a video to show drivers how to navigate each ramp meter. They anticipate that it will take about a month for drivers to become accustomed to them. 

Spokane’s first ramp meter was installed in 2019 where drivers traveling north on US 195 merge onto eastbound I-90.

“A comparison of the eighteen months prior to and since adding the ramp meter shows that collisions have declined by 69%. In addition, the number of severe collisions decreased from seven before, to zero after the ramp meter installation,” said Wagemann. 

The design and installation of these ramp meters was identified as the best practical solution to address collisions in a 2018 comprehensive study on I-90 from SR 904 to Idaho that evaluated multiple strategies from low to high costs. Stakeholders representing local agencies, transit, freight, businesses, school districts, emergency medical services and neighborhoods reviewed the findings within their networks and made recommendations on the final solution. 

How ramp meters work
Ramp meters are traffic signals that operate according to real-time conditions on the highway and ramp. The traffic signals provide consistent gaps between vehicles, rather than multiple vehicles flooding, or platooning, onto the highway at once.

Data collection devices gather information including the volume, occupancy and speed of traffic, which is fed into computer software where algorithms make adjustments to the signal timing of the meters to control the flow of vehicles onto the interstate.

Get Our Mobile App

  • Our Android and iPhone apps include statewide traffic cameras, travel alerts, mountain pass reports, ferry schedules and alerts, northbound Canadian border wait times and more.