Jon Sternoff's new commute is a mess.
“It can be a complete nightmare in the morning,” he said, driving from his Bothell condo. “Cars swerving, cars honking, cars jumping into the wrong lane.’
A temporary ramp project on I-405 at 160th is the culprit. To begin with, hundreds of people living in the Verdeaux Condominiums, an adjacent townhome community in a nearby neighborhood, have to cross five lanes of traffic just to get to the ramp.
“Sometimes, I have to wait almost 10 minutes to cross the street,” said Sternoff.
The northbound ramp at 160th is now closed. A temporary ramp forces drivers to cross oncoming traffic and loop around to head north. It’s part of a project to build a new braided ramp system that will separate traffic from vehicles traveling onto SR 522 from northbound I-405, and vehicles heading onto northbound I-405 from NE 160th Street.
This new system is designed to eliminate weaving and provide more efficient access to and from I-405.
Since the new ramp opened on Sunday, however, drivers have had a tough time navigating the new route. Spend just a few minutes at the interchange and you see cars stuck in the far right lane cutting others off as they try to merge left so they don’t miss the new on-ramp. Drivers are also getting stuck in the wrong lane as they try to make their way onto 405 South.
“I don't know the best way to fix it,” said Sternoff. “But right now it's really not safe at all.”
Project engineers maintain the interchange is safe and they say drivers are going to have to adjust because the temporary ramp is here to stay, at least for the next 18 months. Commuters shouldn’t feel like they’re on their own, however. Transportation workers will be watching and making modifications.
“We look at signing changes, striping changes, signal timing,” said Paul Mayo, project engineer for Flat Iron Constructors. “All of the elements that went into designing the new configuration will be revisited based on the actual behaviors.”
Those modifications can't come quick enough for Jon Sternoff who already saw one accident just Tuesday morning.
“If nothing changes then there are going to be more accidents,” he said, returning to his condo parking lot. “I just hope they’re not serious.”