If you commute on Interstate 5 through the Fife corridor, you already know what the state's new
Congestion Report reveals: traffic there is jammed more than ever.
Aside from a growing population and economy that put more vehicles on the road, much of that gridlock stems from major construction projects – a new bridge over the Puyallup River, new lanes near the Tacoma Dome, and widening of adjacent Route 167 that impacts I-5.
There's relief in sight, but not for several years – final completion of those projects is slated for 2021.
In the meantime, commuters likely will endure more of the same. A Nov. 19
News Tribune article highlighted the latest
Department of Transportation findings, such as a morning rush "hour" through Fife that now lasts from 5:05 a.m. to 8:40, and an evening slowdown from 2:05 p.m. to 7:15.
The Fife bottleneck impacts more than just north-south commuters. Many who travel from Seattle to the Kitsap Peninsula avoid ferry lines (annual ridership increased 6%) and fares by driving via Tacoma. But it's nearing the point where delays on I-5 and Route 16, plus the Narrows Bridge toll, make that a poor option.
I read the
DOT Congestion Report to check out the I-90 commute. Between 2013 and 2015, westbound morning travel times increased by 2 minutes between Issaquah and Seattle, while eastbound evening commutes shrank – from 28 to 22 minutes to Bellevue, and from 34 to 32 minutes to Issaquah.
If you work at Microsoft in Redmond and commute to Seattle, you face a grim SR 520 drive. The stretch between I-405 and I-5 jams up from about 2:05 p.m. to after 8:00 p.m., peaking at 4:40 p.m.
And Spokane residents, your traffic is clogging up, too. The eastbound evening commute on I-90 backs up routinely between Division Street and Custer Road, an increase of 3.3 miles and 35 minutes just over the past two years.
Here's a bright spot: If you like riding the rails, you'll likely find empty seats on Amtrak Cascades. Ridership declined 3.2% last year.
Top two photos courtesy Washington State DOT