We are always looking for innovative ways to improve traffic flow and ease congestion. One of the ideas that we are starting very soon to make the most of our existing lanes without creating more congested roadways is HOT lanes. HOT lanes can help make our roads more efficient by using our existing Good To Go! electronic tolling technology and making better use of unused space in the carpool lane.
State Route 167 was chosen as the site for the HOT lanes pilot project because the freeway has heavy congestion in the regular lanes and space available for more vehicles in the HOV lanes, and we know we can rely on Good To Go! to eliminate waiting in line at toll booths. The pilot project is located along the nine-mile area between Renton and Auburn.
Here’s how it works: Solo drivers can choose to pay a toll and drive in the HOT lane to avoid congestion when there is space in the lane for more vehicles. With variable tolling, the toll price will adjust automatically to ensure that drivers in the HOT lanes can travel quickly and reliably whenever they chose to use them.
Carpools, vanpools and transit will enjoy free-flowing travel in the HOT lanes virtually all the time.
Variable tolling will keep traffic in the HOT lane moving quickly at all times.
Variable tolling, also called dynamic pricing, is a high-tech way to manage the number of vehicles entering a HOT lane to keep traffic moving quickly, even when the other lanes are congested.
Traffic counters in the pavement detect how many vehicles are in the HOT lane and the speed at which they’re traveling. This data is sent to computers at a Traffic Management Center in Shoreline.
Using this real-time traffic data, the computer automatically adjusts the price on the toll rate signs to manage the number of vehicles entering the HOT lanes.
As more vehicles enter, space in the HOT lanes becomes limited, and the price goes up. When the HOT lanes have lots of space available; the price drops. The computer allows traffic volumes to be as high as possible, without allowing the HOT lane to become congested. And it's all done instantaneously. That is how express travel is maintained for drivers in the HOT lane.
While we expect speeds of 50-55 mph, the computer is set to maintain speeds of at least 45 mph 90 percent of the time during rush hour in the HOT lanes. As more cars move into the HOT lane, more space is created in the regular lanes, so more vehicles can travel on SR 167, using all lanes more efficiently.
Most Washingtonians are just now learning about HOT lanes so we want to hear from you. What do you think of HOT lanes? How will HOT lanes affect your commute?