TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: Washington State debuts newly automated I-5 express lanes

Amount of time needed to switch reversible lanes cut by more than half

Transportation Management News WSDOT July 24, 2012
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The Washington State Department of Transportation unveiled the newly automated express lanes on I-5 in Seattle Monday, which engineers will now be able to reverse with the push of a button.


Prior to automation, switching the lanes could take up to an hour; with the new system in place, the lanes were switched in 13 minutes and 39 seconds on Monday. The projected average time for switching under the new electronic system is 15 minutes.


45 new cameras, new signs, new controllers, new signal and data cabinets and two new highway advisory radio stations assist the automation process. Remote monitoring and data gathering is facilitated by miles of underground fiber lines and Ethernet connections.


The total project cost was $6.6 million, with the majority of funding sourced from federal transportation dollars. The department added new traffic cameras and ramp meters along an 11-mile stretch of I-5 in March.

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