Exit 5 is Broken

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Every day my commute takes me to exit 5 on I-69. I can say with a high level of confidence that this exit is broken, especially when taken from I-69 northbound. It is a sad situation, as a great deal of work recently went into "improving" this exit. Exit 5 services two major roads: SR37 and 116th street. The recent road construction extended the start of the exit ramp by a half mile to the south, so that just after passing under the 106th street overpass vehicles can take the exit. About a quarter mile further north the exit increases by a lane, with the right hand lane intended for vehicles exiting at 116th and the left hand lane for those going north on SR37. The trouble is that the line of cars queued up for exit five regularly backs up all the way to 96th street. Traffic attempting to merge from 96th street heading north is blocked by a wall of vehicles that are trying to dive down to the right-most lane to get in the exit 5 queue. In addition, traffic already heading north is preparing for the four lane interstate to become two lanes. The net result is a huge mess of vehicles.

The most frustrating part is that the portion of exit 5 that I need is almost always clear of traffic, but is impossible to get to. As I said, there is typically a solid line of vehicles in the right most lane that runs from 116th street all the way back to 96th street. From what I can tell, nearly all of the traffic in this lane is looking to head north on SR37. My usual tactic is to bypass as much of this traffic as possible until the exit has grown from one lane to two lanes. At this point, I just hope for a gap. Now you might be thinking, "What a jerk, get in line like everybody else!", but remember that the lane I'm aiming for is empty. If I can just squeeze through that wall of folks heading north on SR37 then I wouldn't be inconveniencing anyone.

I don't like to present a problem without attempting to present a solution, so here is potential solution: separate the exits for SR37 and 116th street. The SR37 exit should be moved north of 116th, expanded to two lanes, and moved to the left most lanes of I69. The traffic in those left lanes needs to merge down anyway since the lanes are ending, so this would be a good way to get that traffic sorted. I think this would greatly diminish the traffic at exit 5, ease the troubles of traffic merging from 96th street, and help those attempting to go north on SR37.


Christopher said...

I think that it could be improved at least a little with some paint and barricades. If the first lane expansion starting just after 106th were partitioned off exclusively for 116th street, then the 37 backup wouldn't block access to the 116th lane as often. That said, you have more direct experience dealing with traffic at that exit. Adding an overpass to 37 over 126th would help too, but that won't happen with state money!

Adam said...

I did think about barricades to segregate 116th traffic from 37 at that exit, but my fear is that it would just lead to folks running headlong into the barrier, snarling traffic. I'd be for that idea if it could be done with endangering anyone.

You are right though: with the burden being on the state to provide for the improvement a new overpass is completely out of the question. It isn't going to get any better either, especially with the planned construction work for modifying the 465-69 interchange.

Admin said...

I like what Christopher said. The 4th lane makes it easy for me to get to exit 10. I fly up 69 with no problems but I look right and exit 5 is horrible. Exit 5 should have two lanes that start right at 106th. The right lane going to 116th and the left going to 37. Then I would barracad those two lanes in so that you no longer have cutters right at the exit. You essentially could have 3 lanes, one for 37 and two for 116th (left turn and right) rather then just one as well.

Jade Mason