Monday, January 16, 2017

WSDOT Looking Into Ways to Keep I90 Traffic Moving

Photo courtesy Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is looking for ways to reduce increasing congestion on Interstate 90 through the Spokane area. While we are no Seattle, we need to take steps now to make sure we don't develop traffic problems like Seattle has.

According to the Spokesman-Review, the WSDOT has hired a private engineering firm, DKS Associates, to look into low-cost ways to improve traffic flow.

A report by the WSDOT says backups and slowdowns are routine during the morning and evening. The length of freeway affected by slowdowns has expanded from a half-mile in 2013 to 3.8 miles in 2015.

In 2015, the eastbound I-90 evening commute saw nearly 4 miles of congestion lasting about an hour from the downtown viaduct to the widened segment just east of Havana Street, the congestion report said.

Average daily traffic at the Sprague Avenue interchange increased by 5 percent, from 112,000 vehicles in 2013 to 118,000 in 2015.

Time lost in traffic tie-ups on I-90 doubled from 2013 through 2015, according to the study. The state found 80,000 hours were lost to people caught in rush-hour congestion on I-90 compared with 40,000 hours in 2013. The I-90 corridor carried an estimated 235.3 million people in individual trips in 2015, up 1.9 percent over 2013.

The number of vehicles the freeway can move drops when congestion occurs.

In 2015, I-90 at Freya Street was routinely seeing traffic volumes at 79 percent of capacity at rush hour, a reduction of freeway function over 2013.

Even with the numbers above, it is important to keep things in perspective. Spokane really has very little congestion compared to other cities. Yes, the freeway has slow downs most days, but it's rare that traffic actually comes to a stop like in many places. And the delays don't last long.

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About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.