Few things are more irritating than a queue jumper.
You’ve waited your turn in a long line of vehicles on a highway entrance, but not all are so patient. Instead they take advantage of a free flowing lane nearby and then force a last-second merge.
Street Smarts reader Gary Ziebell had an idea for the state Department of Transportation to prevent this maneuver — install a physical barrier so drivers can’t change lanes down the ramp.
He takes particular issue with the merge from northbound I-405 to Highway 522.
The 522 exit ramp has two undivided lanes — the right lane is intended for 522 eastbound (Woodinville), the left lane is for 522 westbound (Bothell), Ziebell writes.
“During peak commute hours the right lane tends to slow,” he said.
Some drivers, he has noticed, jump to the left lane rather than stay in the slow right lane. They then proceed down the ramp to as near the lane split as possible and attempt to force themselves back into the right lane.
“It seems sensible that some method of dividing lanes is needed — curbs, plastic traffic posts or etc,” he proposed. “The lane destinations are plainly marked at top of ramp.”
I ran Ziebell’s idea past Joseph Calabro, a spokesman for the state Department of Transporation. It didn’t go over so well.
“We refer to this behavior as ‘queue jumping,’ and it is a common concern among drivers, especially in areas with heavy congestion. It is no longer our practice to place curb or plastic (dividers) within the traveled way of our high speed facilities, particularly on interstates such as I-405. One big reason is related to safety.
“Installing a curb or other barrier would introduce a fixed-object hazard when congestion is not present and speeds are high. Limiting the distance and time drivers have to make decisions may create additional issues when congestion is not present. Also, the installation of a barrier would shift the problem to the end of the new barrier and impact mainline traffic (vehicles on I-405).”
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