Life without I-90 express lanes: traditional commutes longer, reverse commutes shorter

The traditional commute for I-90 drivers working in Seattle got tougher, and the reverse commute to the Eastside quicker, in the first week after express lanes closed.

In the first week without Interstate 90 express lanes, the traditional commute to and from Seattle took longer, while reverse commutes to and from Eastside jobs improved.

So says INRIX, the international traffic-data company based in Kirkland, after crunching its own numbers.

Severe congestion, reflecting slower speeds and longer travel times, appeared across Mercer Island in the morning drive westbound.

In the evening, cars took longer to leave Seattle and reach the Eastside, chief economist Bob Pishue reported Thursday.

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I-90’s westbound morning trips took four to seven minutes longer between 8 and 9 a.m. on June 5-8 compared with April, Pishue found. But eastbound the drive was four to seven minutes quicker.

The I-90 center express lanes, which carried carpools, buses and Mercer Island drivers, permanently closed this month to make room for construction of Sound Transit’s light rail across Lake Washington, to open in 2023 and haul an estimated 50,000 daily riders. To compensate for road loss, crews squeezed new high-occupancy lanes into the freeway mainlines, which reduced shoulders and lane width.

Pishue suggests that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) continue to keep incident-response…

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