Is a little order in order at a busy on-ramp near Tulalip?

A reader’s question resurfaced an old request for meter signals on 88th Street NE to southbound I-5.

Sure, traffic’s bad Monday morning through Friday evening. But here comes the sweet, blissful, easy travelin’ weekend.

Except it’s hardly a car cruise from 88th Street NE on to southbound I-5. Two lanes from either direction of 88th Street filter turn to the ramp and eventually merge, but there’s no meter signal.

The Tulalip area near Bob’s Burgers and Brew, Home Depot, Quil Ceda Village and Walmart is popular as an access to the Tulalip Resort Casino and Seattle Premium Outlets. Often, popular means backups here.

Vehicular clogs there perplexed readers in the past, and continue to puzzle them today.

Dave Eitner of Marysville wanted to know if the state had any plans to install meters at the highway onramp.

“It is especially bad on weekend afternoons,” he said. “And drivers are either ignorant or just plain rude when it comes to merging in the 10-20 mph traffic slowdowns.”

Meter signals there could be part of Tulalip Tribes and Washington State Department of Transportation improvements at the interchange. But if they happen, they are years out, and Marysville isn’t in favor of them.

“The City of Marysville, due to concerns with existing traffic congestion, especially the post-railroad preemption release traffic, has historically not be in support of ramp metering of I-5 within the vicinity of Marysville whether for northbound or southbound ramps,” Marysville traffic engineer Jesse Hannahs said in an email.

That onramp averaged 15,000 vehicles a day in 2018, according to WSDOT data. The one north of it at 116th Street NE averaged 13,000.

Northbound I-5 traffic tends to be the more persistent problem, but even there Marysville asked the state to not install meter signals.

In 2016, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring wrote a memo to the WSDOT asking the state to not put in any of those lights on 88th. The city saw the proposed addition of traffic signals there as likely to make traffic worse, especially because of the flow problems caused by the rail line in Marysville and retail in Tulalip.

Nehring wrote: “Installation of ramp metering at the subject locations may only benefit the transportation network for a few hours per day, could provide for significant negative impacts to the transportation network in relation to the local priority topic of railroad relayed delays and the installations could be expected to be removed in just a few years when large funded projects are under construction.”

Some of those projects are in place now. The 116th Street NE overpass was redesigned for better movement, an interchange with Highway 529 and I-5 is set for 2022, and a carpool lane from Everett to Marysville is scheduled to open that year as well.

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