Stop light removal increased congestion

Commuters driving on eastbound Highway 18 near Interstate 90 may experience longer delays and backups than usual. The increased congestion is not due to construction or the traffic light timing at the I-90 and Highway 18 interchange, according to the state Department of Transportation (DOT). The backups likely are caused by the recent removal of the traffic signal on Highway 18 at 244th Avenue Southeast near Maple Valley, according to a department spokesperson.

The 244th Avenue signal controlled congestion by metering the arrival of vehicles at the I-90/Highway 18 interchange. When the department removed the signal in late August, the bottleneck near Maple Valley was eliminated.

However, the change means that traffic eastbound on Highway 18 now reaches the line of traffic at the I-90 interchange faster, causing backups, according to DOT.

The agency is building improvements at the interchange to help ease the congestion. The eastbound I-90 ramp to Highway 18 was closed during the nights of Oct. 2 and Oct. 5.

Crews surveyed, re-striped, installed guardrails and set up temporary barriers.

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