TACOMA – Traffic will soon move a little smoother along four miles of southbound Interstate 5 between Fife and Tacoma with the help of several new ramp meters, which are traffic signals that regulate the flow of vehicles merging onto the highway.
Starting Tuesday, July 18, the Washington State Department of Transportation will activate ramp meters for the first time at four interchanges between 54th Avenue in Fife and Portland Avenue in Tacoma where traffic routinely slows to a crawl during peak-hour commutes.
“Ramp metering is a proven, cost-effective approach to reducing freeway congestion and collisions, providing drivers a better, more reliable trip,” said WSDOT Olympic Region Administrator John Wynands. “While these ramp meters won’t put an end to congestion along the corridor, they will help reduce the length of time the congestion is in place.”
A ramp meter is a traffic signal that operates according to real-time conditions on both the freeway and the ramp. They help reduce congestion by providing consistent gaps between vehicles, rather than allowing multiple vehicles to flood the freeway at once.
“When vehicles enter traffic at an even pace, the freeway flows better and the rate of merge-related crashes decreases,” added Wynands. “Ramp meter systems have proven to reduce collisions by up to 30 percent.”
The newly installed ramp meters are located on the following ramps:
- 54th Avenue East to southbound I-5
- Port of Tacoma Road to southbound I-5
- East Bay Street to southbound I-5
- Portland Avenue to southbound I-5