Spokane is no Portland or Seattle when it comes to traffic. But that’s why many of us live here; no long commutes and no real rush hour. If we don’t plan ahead though, we could have those in the future. Interstate 90 is already showing signs of congestion during the morning and evening drive times. There is also a growing amount of “non-recurring congestion” outside of peak periods- delays caused by construction, bad weather, accidents, and special events. Both kinds of congestion can contribute to safety issues on the freeway and can result in collisions.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is looking for ways to manage the increase of congestion through the Interstate 90 Four Lakes to Idaho Operational Study. In the Spokane area, I-90 from the US 2 interchange to the Broadway interchange was identified as a high collision corridor segment, but WSDOT staff  expanded decided to look at the entire stretch of I90 through what is considered the “urban core” of Spokane.

The study found that ramp spacing, weather, and poor driving behavior contribute to the majority of crashes. Traffic volumes have increased by about 10% from 2012 to 2015, also contributing to collisions. Study staff came up with six strategies to address these issues, focusing on low cost strategies that keep traffic moving without expensive construction projects that add capacity:

  • Active Traffic Management
  • Ramp Metering
  • Time-of-Day or Permanent Ramp Closures
  • Wrong-Way Driver Notification System
  • Traffic Incident Management Strategies
  • Work Zone Management

Now they want to explain these possibilities to you in more detail and get your feedback on them. An open house on the study is next Thursday, May 18 from 4-7 p.m. in the East Central Community Center gym. There is no formal presentation so drop by anytime during those hours. There is also more information on this study at https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/planning/studies/i-90-four-lakes-idaho-operational-study.

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