.

Better Flow? New NE 116th/I-405 Interchange in Kirkland Almost Done

WSDOT is advising motorists to use caution approaching and traveling through the new interchange until they adjust to new lane configurations and reduced number of traffic signals.

 

After some 18 months of commute backups, traffic flaggers, lane closures and changing lane directions, motorists are finding the construction project to improve traffic flow at the NE 116th/Interstate 405 interchange in Kirkland almost complete.

The $17-million reconstruction of the interchange, designed to reduce rush-hour bottlenecks, began in the spring of 2011. Now all the lanes are open, including new ones to increase traffic capacity, and two new traffic signals were turned on late last week, replacing three. The project awaits only lane striping and minor finishing touches.

But drivers are finding the new lane configurations confusing, and the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is asking motorist to use caution as they adjust to the new “Single Point Urban Interchange.”

“It will improve as drivers get used to the new interchange,” said Steve Peer, a WSDOT spokesman. “It’ll get better and better. It’s been tough because we’ve had changing lane configurations.”

Many motorists are slowing down as they approach the interchange, trying to figure out which lane to get into depending on the direction they are headed. Drivers coming off northbound I-405 also have more lane options than before.

Peer said traffic flow will improve as lane striping is completed and drivers learn lane configurations.

“We’re putting the final striping on and that will make it a lot more evident on where to go,” he said. “I think it will be pretty intuitive. It’s the holidays now, so really after the first of the year when the full commute begins again and people adjust, it’s going to make for a lot less congestion.”

For years, rush hour traffic has been beyond capacity of the old interchange, typically causing severe backups on NE 116th on either side of the I-405 each weekday morning and evening. The new interchange not only increases traffic capacity, but it also adds sidewalks and bike lanes

Find out more on the WSDOT blog here, and also please see the attached You Tube video about the project.

----

Have you driven through the new interchange? What do you think? Please tell us in the comments box below!

Kirkland Tony December 25, 2012 at 01:59 PM
It's a good reconfiguration. I drive that intersection regularly. Previously it was regularly severely clogged. Now it's a bit more confusing... especially to inattentive drivers... but far more efficient. And better at preventing those last-instant lane-jumpers too.
Ty Martin December 25, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Hold it folks, WE have to adjust to the "improvements" where signage is limited, confusing and traffic slows while WE try to figure out which lane to get in to.........WSDOT you are ridiculous! $17,000,000 for confusion......come on.
Kirkland Tony December 25, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Ty, I drive that every weekday. The signage is fine. If we could just get cellphones out of the hands of distracted drivers and get the elderly regularly tested to ensure they can process data quickly enough to drive safely, there would be no problem. Once THOSE people learn it, it will be fine. And btw, the traffic is far faster than it was three years ago. It really sounds like you took a quote and issued sour grapes rather than actually having long term experience in that intersection.
Glamourista December 26, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Tony, Tony Tony.....the key to your snarky comments is 'I drive that everyday. I am neither elderly or own a smart phone and I don't find the signage in that loop particularly enlightening when I occassionally take the onramp. As an FYI, I have seen plenty of the Honda/BMW/Lexus drivers headed to MSFT slow down and brake in the intersection. My smart overachieving colleagues are guilty of being THOSE people as well.
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 02:36 PM
There is no doubt traffic will flow more smoothly and the new interchange will ease congestion once the striping is down and commuters get used to the change. That interchange has needed updating for more than 20 years. I can remember waiting in a backup on 116th for 15 minutes one weekday morning sometime in between 1988 and 1992.
Kirkland Tony December 26, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Why would anyone going to MSFT take this offramp? The offramp is northbound; if you want to go to RedWest or Main or Studio, you would take 520 three exits earlier or possibly 70th over to 148th.
Kirkland Tony December 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Greg, how many I add photos to either the thread or article? The intersection really isn't that bad, except for lane jumpers and people on auto-pilot. I mean it's seriously simple... from the offramp, you want to go right, stay right. You want to go left-left (heading back south), stay far left. You want to go west on 116th to either go north on 120th (e.g. to Fred Meyer or the courthouse) or continue west... don't get in the far left or far right lane. From 116th heading west, similarly, it's real simple. You want to go left, get in the left lane. You want right, get in the right lane. 120th south is now easier than ever... one lane per possibility (right/straight/left.) Since you can SEE the freeway on the left, that should be pretty obvious. Seriously, I'm not grasping how this is hard for anyone. Pretty much every intersection works this way. The only change is that this one didn't used to... you had multiple destinations per lane, and often blocked completely by traffic and lane jumpers. So... can I post some pics?
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Tony, she meant getting on 405 southbound there. Pretty quick run from there to 520 and Microsoft.
Greg Johnston (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Tony, right under the video on the story, click on "Upload Photos and Video." Thanks!
Kirkland Tony December 28, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Thanks. It turns out I can't get good shots while moving, but I have some fantastic blurs of the signs! ;)

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something