Mercer on-ramp meters go on line to relieve I-5 congestion

SEATTLE – On-ramp meters from Mercer Street to Interstate 5 went live on Tuesday; state and city traffic engineers hope it could have an impact on people driving in and through Seattle.

Ramp meters on our freeways are not new but they are for Mercer Street.

Both the Washington State Department of Transportation and Seattle Department of Transportation are convinced the meters won’t have a negative impact on Mercer Street; their intent is all about reducing congestion on I-5.

These meters on the northbound and southbound entrance ramps from Mercer Street to I-5 are designed to automatically activate when traffic on the freeway starts to build.

“The benefits of the ramp meters are really going to come at the beginning and the end of the peak periods, that’s when we’re really going to push the cars through in an organized fashion to get onto I-5,” said Harmony Weinberg with WSDOT.

WSDOT tested the meters for several weeks during multiple weekends and the meters went live during Tuesday morning’s commute for its first real-world test.

Both WSDOT and SDOT TOLD Q13 News they plan to keep a close eye on traffic volumes on Mercer and the freeway during the first few days of weekday metering.

According to WSDOT, the meters will be shut off at Mercer Street or have its timing adjusted if a backup begins on Seattle city streets.