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What exactly is “zipper merging?”

MOLINE, Illinois-- With I-74 down to one lane heading into Iowa, drivers are supposed to be doing a technique called “zipper merging.” Instead, many drivers are sticking to the right lane, causing congestion in downtown Moline.

Do you know how to zipper merge? "No." Have you ever heard of zipper merging? “No never.""

Zipper merge. A seemingly unfamiliar term for some drivers headed Westbound on I-74.

"No, they don’t know how to do it. They just line up all the way back and then people get upset and they don’t let other people in," said Matthew Kosarek. Kosarek commutes over the bridge nearly everyday. He knows what the term means but says he isn’t able to do it.

"People thought that, when you’re in the left lane passing the long lane in the right lane, you are cutting, and we’ve been taught since kids that cutting isn’t nice," said Det. Michael Griffin, with the Moline Police Department.

This time, it isn’t cutting. It’s the correct way to get across, timely and efficiently.

Zipper merging is as simple as this; Drivers are asked to use both lanes while crossing the bridge up to the merge point. Once the cones start and you are pushed over, cars on the left lane slowly creep in the right lane, alternating one car after the other, exactly like a zipper on a jacket.

"The zipper merge, it works, it decreases the congestion downtown, and it’s also just being nice to your fellow motorist, letting them come up and get in allows the traffic to combine at one point  as opposed to just being one long congested congo line," Griffin said.

Right now, some drivers are placing themselves in the center of both lanes so cars can’t pass, causing blockage, honking and a little bit of road rage according to Kosarek. That rage is exactly why he won't even try to zipper merge anymore.

"They don’t let you in, so if you get in the left lane, there’s a chance they won’t let you in, so if you’re in the left lane, they aren’t going to let you zipper merge. If you’re in the right lane, they think you’re getting ahead of everyone else," said Kosarek.

This may be creating unnecessary headaches in your morning commute. Patience is important to keep in mind during all of this continued construction. More drivers zipper merging should help speed drive times safely.

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