Are you ready for weekday meters at the Mercer Mess?
SEATTLE -- It's D-Day, or perhaps M-Day, for the Mercer Mess.
A new test for the “Mercer Mess” is slated to go live Tuesday at rush hour. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) said new ramp meters to I-5 will turn on for the first weekday rush.
It has drivers wondering what they will mean for one of the most infamous traffic trouble spots in Seattle.
Ask anyone who's stuck in the notorious Mercer mess at rush hour and they’ll tell you about the bottleneck to I-5.
“It's crazy driving man around this of the day, yeah it sucks,” said one driver.
“I've lived here since 1994 and it's definitely gotten crazier and crazier,” said Amanda Zehnder, who chooses to walk and avoid traffic on I-5.
WSDOT engineers said ramp meters from Mercer Street to I-5 will improve traffic flow and help cut down the backups on the freeway.
According to WSDOT, the meters will " turn on when the system detects traffic slowing down on I-5. When it comes to a typical weekend, we likely won’t see the ramp meters turning on as much as they will when more vehicles are on the road during the week."
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WSDOT has been testing the ramp meters for several weekends and they know drivers are still getting the hang of them.
Officials want drivers to remember to use all the lanes at the meter and not just back up one lane.
WSDOT said during peak rush hour, the new meters won't help backups on Mercer but they won't make them worse.
Engineers said if all goes well, the ramp meters could help I-5 handle three to five percent more traffic.
“I-5 is congested in that area and we can make some improvements to I-5,” said WSDOT Regional Operations Engineer Morgan Balogh. “There's not a whole lot we can do in I-5 in this area, so we try to find some of these lower cost improvements that don't solve all the problems in the world, but they do make improvements in safety and efficiency."
WSDOT officials said the greater Seattle area already has 245 ramp meters.
They credit the added measure with decreasing car crashes on freeways by one third.
WSDOT said drivers should see traffic improve from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.