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New ramp meters activated soon in Pierce County

Cara Mitchell, communications, 360-357-2703

Time-tested technology coming soon to ramps on eastbound SR 512 and Thorne Lane to northbound I-5

LAKEWOOD – Technology that helps reduce highway travel times is coming soon to travelers in the Lakewood and Parkland area of Pierce County.

As soon as Monday, Nov. 15, the Washington State Department of Transportation will activate new ramp meters at three interchanges:

New ramp meter locations

  • Thorne Lane on-ramp to northbound Interstate 5
  • Steele Street on-ramp to eastbound State Route 512
  • SR 7/Pacific Avenue South on-ramp to eastbound SR 512

These ramps join a network of ramp meters in the Puget Sound region. The system works in concert to regulate the flow of traffic merging onto the highway.

How ramp meters work Ramp meters are traffic signals that operate according to real-time conditions on the highway and ramp. The traffic signals provide consistent gaps between vehicles, to prevent multiple vehicles flooding the highway at once.

WSDOT will fine-tune ramp meter operations and closely monitor traffic at each ramp following activation. WSDOT’s goal is to balance the needs of drivers merging onto the highway with the needs of drivers already there.

Why these ramps? In 2015, WSDOT activated 18 ramp meters along the I-5 corridor from SR 510 in Lacey to SR 512 in Lakewood. The addition had significant travel time benefits for travelers using the I-5 corridor between both highways. At that time, the Thorne Lane on-ramp to northbound I-5 became an additional lane on the interstate and didn’t require metering.

The new highway design now changed this. The new Thorne Lane on-ramp to northbound I-5 is now an auxiliary lane that exits at Gravelly Lake Drive. Because of this change, a ramp meter was added to this location as part of the I-5 - Steilacoom-DuPont Rd. to Thorne Lane Corridor Improvements project.

In 2016, WSDOT activated the westbound SR 512 ramp meters at the same interchanges.