Thursday, October 9, 2014

Flashing lights signal start of I-405 express toll lane equipment install

By Emily Pace Glad

Many drivers have seen a blue flash above the HOV lane on Interstate 405 north of State Route 522. A few have asked us what it is. It’s part of the toll equipment that will anchor 17 miles of new express toll lanes on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood in late 2015.
If you drive I-405, you may have noticed toll equipment above
the lanes in certain areas. This equipment is similar to
what’s on SR 520.

Throughout the year, crews have been installing towering green structures over the roadway, known as gantries. Now they are outfitting those gantries with the gadgets that will allow tolling to work, including toll readers, cameras and special beacons that help Washington State Patrol with enforcing proper use of the lanes.

The blue flash you’ve seen is from testing the toll cameras that will help us take photos of a vehicle’s license plate.  You may have seen a similar flash if you’ve used the SR 520 bridge. After we install the cameras on I-405, we need to make sure they are ready to take photos day and night as we work to get the system up and running and ultimately start tolling in 2015.

Crews will wrap up installing toll equipment north of SR 522 later this year. After the new year, they’ll install equipment between Northeast Sixth Street in Bellevue and SR 522. Once everything is set up there’s still a lot of fine tuning and testing to be done before we can open the express toll lanes to drivers. In the meantime, no tolls will be charged, and the HOV lane will continue to operate the same way it does today.

The work we’re doing is part of a project to convert the I-405 HOV lane between Bellevue and Lynnwood to an express toll lane. In addition, between Northeast Sixth Street in Bellevue and SR 522 in Bothell, we’re building a second express toll lane to form a dual express toll lane system in both directions of I-405.

Why build express toll lanes?
If you use I-405, we don’t need to remind you that the highway experiences some of the worst traffic in the state, and the HOV lanes are often as congested as the regular lanes. New express toll lanes will let drivers choose to travel faster by paying a toll. The regular lanes will remain free for all drivers.

Toll rates will adjust depending on traffic to guarantee a faster, more reliable trip for express toll lane users including transit, carpoolers, or folks driving alone. As more drivers use the express toll lanes, traffic moves faster in the regular lanes.

We’re still working with the Washington State Transportation Commission to finalize a number of key decisions about the lanes, including carpool exemptions and rates, so stay tuned for more information early next year. 

Still have questions about how the lanes will work? Check out our new FAQs.

108 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am very unhappy about this! The HOV lane is slow enough south bound I-405 @ 6am, and now you want to open it up yo people with "privilege" (deep pockets)

Anonymous said...

This needs to be made MORE AWARE to the public. The first time I was driving at night and went under this flash I almost crashed out of shock and not having ANY IDEA what the heck just happened. Very scary and dangerous for the public.

Anonymous said...

if the state didn't waste so much money in in studies would have more money for actual roads

rhonan said...

The people of Washington State have supported HOV lanes to support car pooling and reduce fuel consumption. We did not support HOV lanes so that WSDOT could scrap them and turn them into a revenue source, while allowing the affluent to live better than us little people. If the HOV lanes were slowing down, the solution should have been to raise the occupancy requirement, and actually enforce it. I've often seen 3 or 4 white guys in luxury cars drive by a cop in the HOV lane, and the cop doesn't bother to move until some working stiff comes by in a Toyota, and bam, he bothers to enforce the law.

Anonymous said...

I have a rule that if I leave my house, in Everett, later than 5:30am on my way to Kent then my normall 45min commute is going to be ATLEAST an hour if not more. I sit in the left lane trudging along with traffic, because I am going almost to the END of 405. And I'll sit there watching the scores of people, single occupancy, zip by at 70 with no Stater in site. A coupke of times I have seen a Stater tailing a single occupancy car, but they are too busy on their phone either talking or texting.
If you want more revenue, make the Staters actually pop EVERY person that isn't using them correctly. Oh, and the "HOV Report Line", HA! What a joke.

WSDOT said...

Currently, the HOV lanes are full during peak periods along I-405 and do not provide a reliable trip for transit and vanpools.

One of the primary objectives of the express toll lanes is to improve traffic performance. Our traffic models predict that keeping a two-person carpool requirement will not allow us to meet our state and federal mandate of 45 miles per hour, 90 percent of the time during peak periods. Still, if we simply changed the carpool definition to 3+ without express toll lanes, the lanes would be underutilized. By building express toll lanes, we can fill those lanes back in by giving drivers the choice to use them.

Research on existing express toll lane users in Washington and in other parts of the country reveals that people of all income levels choose to pay tolls when they need a faster trip, whether that be during regular daily commute, running late to an appointment, or picking up a child from school or day care. They don't use them every day, but they do use them when they need them.

Anonymous said...

I still don't see how this will improve traffic performance since the current traffic is slow in all lanes and there will be the same amount of traffic on the road...

Kaicreamer said...

I'M OFFICIALLY PISSED AND CALLING YOU OUT Jay Inslee..... Living in Kirkland is now a burden. If I want to go to Seattle, toll....If I GO TO WORK TO MAKE MONEY... I now get a toll. If I want to see my parents at a "faster pace" in the already congested HOV lane.... toll. WHERE THE HECK IS MY MONEY GOING! I want to know. I want a spread sheet of the break down of where our toll prices are going and I officially want you to hire me to fix it.. Because chances are, I could find you a better deal to do it all. I could create more jobs, I could hire new contractors, I could hire cheaper developers and architects.... I also want a copy of your statistics stating that this was the best plan of action for our traffic for 405 N, and not the best plan to make you money because the most cars head on 405 N at that time. Also, I want a copy of your statement to decrease carbon emissions because obviously our roads are no longer about getting people less pollution but to get people places faster.... So basically you are saying the BMW's, the Range Rovers, the Lexis's all get to use the carpool lane while the broken down Toyota Celica hangs out with the rest of us broken College Graduates who are statistically living at our parents house commenting to work are now traveling in the "I'm too poor to get to work fast" LANE. THIS IS STUPID. I want EVIDENCE this is a good idea. I am serious... I will post this wherever anyone will read it.... I will write you letters. I will ask the news.... I WANT AN ANSWER and I want it now.

Anonymous said...

Where are all the pictures going that are currently being taken of vehicles that pass under the cameras during the "calibration period?"

Anonymous said...

Just one more way that this mismanaged and wasteful State is using to pull more money out of our pocket. We spend so much in taxes now without much benefit. Carpool lanes are supposed to be for carpools, not tolls. If I wanted to live in a toll road area, I'd move to Chicago.

Anonymous said...

One way to improve traffic is to ensure people do not drive slow in the passing lanes.

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the worst ideas the state has had since it tolled 520. This is already a congested area....now it is going to be slammed with tons of people refusing to use it, reminds me of something called 520. So wonderful to see the state wasting so many resources and forgetting that there is a thing called reality.

Anonymous said...

Plus, there would be more money to invest in our roads if only the state didn't waste so much money through it's welfare system.

Anonymous said...

How does this improve traffic in all lanes when those using the tolls will now be pushed to the non-HOV lanes? Common sense would say traffic will be more congested and last longer in those zoned areas. Just tell us that you want more money.

Anonymous said...

How come this was not taken to a vote by the citizens of this state? We now have to payour twice for roads we have already paid for? WSDOT does not own the roads, the citizens do. What gives you the right to toll us without asking us first? This state is the most wasteful when it comes to funds, you will toll us illegally, and still nothing will get done.

Anonymous said...

I seriously hope the entry and exit points are being looked at better. Currently it doesn't take a traffic survey to see that traffic is backed up down the northbound Canyon Park exit (SR-527), and the exit for the HOT lanes shows it almost at this exit.

This will cause a massive congestion with HOT users trying to get over 3-4 lanes in a short period, where the exit lane is at a near standstill already. This needs to be moved south, closer to the 195th street exit, otherwise HOT users will need to exit at the next earlier exit, which is all the way back in Kirkland at the HOV on ramp by Evergreen Hospital.

These are not well planned exit points for northbound traffic in the afternoon/evening timeframes, in order to preserve traffic flow at optimal speeds.

WSDOT said...

@Anonymous State law requires that any images or other data captured by the toll system only be used for tolling purposes and we can only take images of the vehicle, not the people inside the vehicle. During system testing, we keep data for a few months before deleting it.

Crews will wrap up installing toll equipment north of SR 522 later this year. After the new year, they’ll install equipment between NE 6th Street in Bellevue and SR 522. Fine tuning and testing will continue through next summer. In the meantime, no tolls will be charged, and the HOV lane will operate the same way it does today.

Anonymous said...

I echo the comments of Anonymous who said, "How come this was not taken to a vote by the citizens of this state? We now have to pay our twice for roads we have already paid for? WSDOT does not own the roads, the citizens do. What gives you the right to toll us without asking us first? This state is the most wasteful when it comes to funds, you will toll us illegally, and still nothing will get done." This is called taxation without representation people! Why are we not holding these politicians and government agencies accountable? According to our constitution, this type of activity is a federal crime. There needs to be a lot of squeaky wheels to make a difference. All those who are unhappy about being charged to travel on a road that has already been paid for, need to call and complain to the media. The people of Washington State have no say in government. Voting makes no difference. It has been proven. WA State government does what they want even if votes say, it is against the will of the people. However, they will bend under media pressure. IF YOU DON'T LIKE HAVING TO PAY, TO TRAVEL ON A ROAD, FOR WHICH YOU'VE ALREADY PAID...then people, you need to MAKE NOISE ABOUT THIS TO THE MEDIA.

Call me Roy said...

SMH. These government agencies crack me up. They're spending tax payer dollars to install equipment that will get more money from the tax payer. But then you again, you people keep voting in the same morons that appoint these people year after year after year. You kind of deserve this.

WSDOT said...

You’re right, the HOV lanes today are often as congested as the regular lanes. This project will address the congestion problem by building a new express toll lane between NE 6th Street in Bellevue and SR 522 in Bothell. This new lane will be paired with the existing HOV lane to create two express toll lanes in each direction. This additional lane capacity, combined with dynamic toll rates that adjust based on traffic conditions, will allow us to manage traffic flow better and move more vehicles faster than we do in today’s carpool lanes. Tolls will adjust based on traffic, with the goal of keeping traffic moving at 45 mph or faster in the express toll lane.

In addition, our traffic models predict that keeping a two-person carpool definition will not allow us to make necessary improvements in traffic performance. The Washington State Transportation Commission will make the final decision on carpool exemptions. Based on recent meetings, it appears they are leaning toward a “hybrid” approach, where carpools with three or more people will ride toll-free at peak times, and carpools with two or more people will ride toll-free at off-peak times. This approach will allow us to manage traffic performance and guarantee a reliable trip.

As more drivers choose to use the express toll lanes, traffic moves faster in the regular lanes. As we mentioned above in our blog, the regular lanes will remain free for all drivers.

Anonymous said...

This is the worst idea i have ever heard. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.

WSDOT said...

Our engineers considered that drivers will need to merge from the left express toll lane to right exits and have designed the system so that all access points will provide sufficient distance for safe merging in and out of the lanes.

At the specific location you mentioned, you may have noticed a gantry with toll equipment very close to the SR 527 exit. Please note that the actual access point that drivers will use to reach SR 527 will be located farther south and will provide enough distance for drivers to safely reach that exit. There will also be advance signage in the express toll lanes letting drivers know of the destinations they will be able to reach from a given exit.

Anonymous said...

This plan raises more questions than answers.

-Are the tolls merely to pay for 405 "improvements," or do they go into a more general pool?

- How long will they remain in effect? Years? Decades?

- What plans do WSDOT have to help ease congestion, other than inconveniencing drivers to the point where mass transit (what little exists) is more attractive?

Obviously, we cannot simply build our way out of congestion...it won't work. But I have serious doubts in the ability of our State government to effectively and competently manage the inadequate road network we are saddled with.

Anonymous said...

How will you determine how many people are in the cars when you said earlier that you cannot use the pictures taken to see inside the vehicle, only to look at the license plates?? And others are making a great point that it will only cause more traffic because most people cannot afford or do not want to pay tolls every day to get to and from work. so more people will be driving in the normal lanes...

Anonymous said...

I will personally start a petition to prevent this from happening if no one else does. It's a joke that we will have to pay more for a road we already paid to build. And everyone is right when they say it will make traffic worse, because it will.

Bob G said...

Instead of prohibiting two-person carpools, why not restrict the HOV lanes to two *licensed* drivers? HOV lanes are about reducing cars on the roads, and by allowing soccer Moms to ferry their kids around in the carpool lanes, we are not reducing traffic on the roads, but we *are* increasing congestion in the carpool lanes.

Justin Zeches said...

This camera system was the direct cause of me being distracted enough to have an accident this morning. I looked up at glowing blue flash from these cameras for a second or two. Next thing I knew I was smashing guy in front of me. :-/ easily distracting, please pay attention when u drive. Even a second or two can cause a lot of damage!!

CliffV said...

I am amazed that so many people are complaining about WSDOT. It is clear that these people have not read the studies which describe all of the alternatives and how each are expected to work.

I know that's a lot of work. But resist negative comments unless you've done that work.

Patrick Ames said...

It's funny to listen to the WSDOT keep referring to their "traffic models."

Who comes up with these models that so conveniently point you in the direction that tolling is necessary? Is it the camera companies? Is it WSDOT themselves? Or by some rare chance is it a third party who has nothing to gain from tolling?

Also, didn't a major project on 405 just come to completion? The project was to widen lanes... That is ridiculous. Why make lanes wider when you had the ability to potentially ADD a lane? More lanes can handle more cars... Math is hard.

The Geezer said...

Really?

Anonymous said...

Haha! They are prob. being sent to te illuminati

Anonymous said...

Many people have paid for these roads that never use them. For example, some citizen from the town of Spokane may have contributed just as much as you. That is the the true definition of taxation without representation. Pay to use makes way more sense than spreading the costs out to those who will never benefit from it.

WSDOT said...

Do tolls pay for 405 improvements?
All toll revenue collected on I-405 stays within the I-405 corridor. Toll revenue collected on I-405 will first be used to maintain and operate the express toll lanes. Any additional revenues will be used for future I-405 corridor improvements.

How long will tolls remain in effect?
I-405 express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood were authorized by the Legislature through RCW 47.56.880. The express toll lanes are meant to be a traffic management tool as well as produce revenue and therefore do not have an end date.

What plans do WSDOT have to help ease congestion?
Express toll lanes improve mobility for all people in the corridor including transit, freight and drivers in the regular lanes. Toll rates adjust based on real-time traffic conditions to maintain an average speed of at least 45 mph in the express toll lanes. This will take the guesswork and frustration out of the daily commute and help drivers, transit users, and vanpools get where they are going quicker.

How will you determine how many people are in cars?
Washington State Patrol will provide express toll lane enforcement, similar to SR 167 HOT lanes.

Instead of prohibiting two-person carpools, why not restrict the HOV lanes to two licensed drivers?
State law defines carpools as vehicles carrying a specific number of passengers. HOVs may therefore include passengers who are not licensed drivers. This includes senior citizens, people with disabilities, and children as well as other people who do not, or cannot, obtain a driver’s license. This also helps ensure enforceability by the Washington State Patrol. It can already be challenging to accurately determine how many occupants are in a vehicle. It would be much more difficult and expensive for State Patrol officers to additionally be required to check occupant age or licensing status.

Bob G said...

@WSDOT: While I consider prohibiting 2 person carpools due to the minimal effort involved in asking occupants for their driver's licenses akin to "throwing the baby out with the bath water," I do appreciate the reply nevertheless.

Bob G said...

@Anonymous: It seems like every time I drive through Spokane, WSDOT is making major improvements to I-90. I have a lot of time to think about how Eastern Washington consumes more state revenue than it produces as I sit for hours each day on 405.

Also, as inflation is raising construction costs, WSDOT revenue is decreasing. Gas taxes do not increase with inflation, and cars are using less fuel. Therefore, I applaud WSDOT for thinking out-of-the-box to make a serious dent in horrible traffic congestion in spite of limited revenue.

Anonymous said...

Good point Bob. As a transportation engineer here in the Seattle area, sources of revenue to fix/build roads has really dried up. In the past we have depended on the gas tax for funding, but as Bob stated it has been drastically reduced due to the increased gas mileage of modern cars. And of course the cost of construction just keeps going up. So as agencies search for new sources of funding road work, tolls will be considered and I would guess we will be seeing more of them. Although none of us want to pay tolls, it is a user tax which in many ways is a very fair system; if you don't use the toll road you don't pay the toll. Of course, we all pay a lot of taxes now, and the thought of another tax, or toll, is appalling. Who knows what the answer is, but like I said, we should probably get used to the idea of more tolls because my guess is we'll be seeing more of them.

Anonymous said...

Where can citizens see the traffic study done to determine two or three occupancy differences?

Anonymous said...

Wow, isn’t that cool elitist toll lanes for the rich who can afford to pay extra. What about the rest of us peons. We sit there in our old cars watching the elite’s race by, shades of Hunger Games and Elysium.

Anonymous said...

if it is going to work like 167 hot lanes you better allow those of that have non-switchable good to go passes to trade in our standard passes rather than have to pay full price for new switchable passes. sure they dont cost that much but its just the principle of the thing.

Anonymous said...

I like to call them "left lane loafers." The police really need to enforce only being on the left to pass - this is a serious problem in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

These are VERY dangerous at night. We almost went off the road from the shock and being momentarily blinded by these lights - and sounds like we aren't the only ones.

Anonymous said...

I love the way bureaucrats talk....the tolls are actually good for us so that we can "choose" to drive faster, the other lanes will still be "free". There must be a special class for this double speak. Well, I don't remember being asked by the State if I wanted to pay to drive faster and I'll go out on a limb and predict that as soon as the State needs more revenue that the other "free" lanes won't be.

Anonymous said...

I expand WSDOT as "WASTED". Idea of a TOLL road is a sick idea to generate more revenue. This coupled with Cops standing on 405 stretch the catch the innocent and slam them with hefty fines ( more revenue for the local govt ) is completely sick ! Carpools are meant to be carpool lanes. .Not some highway exclusive for the rich. You collect road tax, car tax etc etc and still need people to part with more money. stop being greedy and do your job right !!!!

Anonymous said...

It took me a long time to find one person to carpool with. Changing the carpool lane to 3 people at peak times will make it nearly impossible to utilize the express lane without paying. I do not expect to find a third person, and now that there will be fees involved, I expect that the little benefit I receive from carpooling now to be completely erased with this new "solution".

Anonymous said...

My dog should count towards the carpool threshold. I hate that my dog has to sit in the car for 1.5-2.5 hours now for a commute that takes 45 minutes at non peak hours.

Traffic law abider said...

Thanks for this post, I've been wondering about this a lot lately.

Unknown said...

This is ridiculous. First, let's let the privledged class escape the drudgery of having to wait in line, because they are driving a single occupancy vehicle, and shouldn't be forced to carpool like the unwashed masses. Then on top of that let's make the unwashed masses suffer even more by adding those priveledged people to the carpool lane. Secondly, what will the additional revenue be used for? Obviously it is not being used for the public school system, where districts like Northshore cannot even find teachers for the overcrowded elementary classrooms, because they will be forced to take on classrooms with 40+ students for no more pay. All of this because the county allowed a few developers to get rich by making a few huge apartment complexes in the north end of the district. This state is absolutely ridiculous in how it taxes its citizens, and then does nothing with the money except to fund stupid studies on how to use the money. Bureaucracy at its worst! While we're at it we can surely add a few more Adminstrative personnel to our bloated public troughs.

Unknown said...

The reason that traffic is so congested on the 405 has nothing to do with the use or lack of in the HOV lanes. It has to do with choke points at the North and South Ends. Adding these ridiculously priced scanning units, is not going to raise revenue or aleviate congestion. It will however, allow the priviledged among us to afford a better way of life without having to sit in traffic with the poor and middle class.

Rachel Hodson said...

WSDOT, all your answers just repeat themselves and you're not really answering anyone's questions. Does it not bother the state that its citizens hate this idea and what it done away with? Do threats of petition or dissatisfied occupants not even cause you to blink an eye? How can you truly sit back and say that our claims and ideas brought up here--that traffic in the "free" lanes will just get worse because we can't afford your ungodly tolls--arê wrong? How can you be all knowing when we're the ones who drive the road and pay the taxes? We are the ones who know what it's like to not be able to afford something. And we are the ones who know if this is a good idea or not. You'll never travel this road and therefore you shouldn't make its decisions. This is our road that we already paid for and we can't afford another cent. Slaving away for your pockets.

Michael Brown said...

Since we are now tolling lets get rid of the gas tax and use tax.

Katharine B said...

I agree with some previous comments about the potential danger of these new cameras. I just drove home to Bellingham from Bellevue (tonite, while it was dark) and was completely startled, twice, by the sudden bright flashes from the cameras. The intense flash of light caused me to jolt as it startled me and gave me a quick second of not being able to see. Even my 9 year old in the back seat blurted out "what was that???". I am having a hard time believing these are actually safe for the road. It made such an negative impression on me that as soon as I came home, I googled "I405 carpool lane cameras" and fortunately found this blog where I can at least make a comment. I really really think the safety of how these operate should be evaluated.

Anonymous said...

For fairness sake and keeping cost down (saving tax payers' money), why not keep all lanes, new and old, with same privilege (free to all) so you don't have logistic problem of transiting vehicle from left HOV lane to exits to the right and save on all the tolling/monitoring equipment? If our state wants to truly give privilege to mass transit, then improve and coordinate all regional bus systems (Metro, CT, Pierce, etc.) to efficiently serve citizens then have dedicated bus (lanes) lanes. This revenue making scheme without citizen voting is poor form.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would you toll an HOV lane? This is going to put more pressure on the other lanes and make traffic that much slower!!!

Anonymous said...

Just for your information. There is a gantrie in the left lane before 405 and I5 split north that is improperly placed as the car pool lane ends before the flash. Hopefully this will be fixed or you will be charging people unfairly. Also, what if you have passengers in the back (kids) and nobody in the front passenger seat. Are the cameras going to be able to tell this? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Per WSDOT--"One of the primary objectives of the express toll lanes is to improve traffic performance. Our traffic models predict that keeping a two-person carpool requirement will not allow us to meet our state and federal mandate of 45 miles per hour, 90 percent of the time during peak periods. Still, if we simply changed the carpool definition to 3+ without express toll lanes, the lanes would be underutilized. By building express toll lanes, we can fill those lanes back in by giving drivers the choice to use them."

That statement gives us nothing but the run-around! Making these into 3+ carpool lanes will MOST DEFINITELY allow them to meet their mandate of "45 miles per hour, 90 percent of the time" because the lanes will be OPEN and traffic will be traveling at the posted speed of 60 mph. This is what's wrong with with government--their bias always clouds their logic.

Anonymous said...

Per WSDOT--"One of the primary objectives of the express toll lanes is to improve traffic performance. Our traffic models predict that keeping a two-person carpool requirement will not allow us to meet our state and federal mandate of 45 miles per hour, 90 percent of the time during peak periods. Still, if we simply changed the carpool definition to 3+ without express toll lanes, the lanes would be underutilized. By building express toll lanes, we can fill those lanes back in by giving drivers the choice to use them."

That statement gives us nothing but the run-around! Making these into 3+ carpool lanes will MOST DEFINITELY allow them to meet their mandate of "45 miles per hour, 90 percent of the time" because the lanes will be OPEN and traffic will be traveling at the posted speed of 60 mph. This is what's wrong with with government--their bias always clouds their logic.

Anonymous said...

Washington state is 4th in the nation for tax burden per citizen.

Do the citizens of Washington really think that our state government will do any better job with the management of these new toll monies? *i don't!*

Anonymous said...

One thing I keep hearing is "I already paid to build this road". Actually, unless you are eighty years old, your grandparents and parents paid for the roads. And if you believe a road that is fifty or more years old doesn't require any more money spent to maintain it, I'd like to know what planet you live on.

Anonymous said...

We are a legitimate carpool, and it takes us nearly an hour to get from Mill Creek to Redmond. It took us 35 minutes to commute from our previous home in WEST SEATTLE to Redmond. We thought moving ten miles closer might reduce our commute. If a toll lane was being added, as opposed to a currently clogged carpool lane being taken away, we might be making a little progress. Switching a lane that is already slow and full to a less frequently used toll lane makes no sense. I did not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a study...I spent thousands of hours on the actual road in real-time situations.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone pass on I-405 S in the mornings? You can switch lanes, but there's little to no benefit as everyone is going at the same glacial pace.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather see the money spent on filling in the dangerous grooves and indentations on the highway. They're particularly dangerous when filled with standing water.

Anonymous said...

I find the flashing lights incredibly distracting. The first night they were on my wife came home and mentioned them, and this morning when I drove under, the blue flashes made me think a police officer was pulling me over. I am a bit amazed that this system is not using a wavelength that is invisible to the human eye.

Anonymous said...

Upset about tolls? Driven on the east coast lately? Well, we are now hoisted by our own petard. Our population continues to rise, yet it is nearly impossible to raise taxes to pay for our transportation woes. Blaming WADOT is intellectual laziness. We get what we pay, or don't pay for. Transportation requires serious investment, though it will never keep up with the human tide. And yes, my commute to the east side is now hellish; the blue lights have reduced it to a crawl. This blog should be on the front page of the traffic cams.

Anonymous said...

What is a 2 person carpool supposed to do--when the car only allows for 2 passengers? Suddenly we don't "qualify" for the HOV lane?

Robin F said...

I AM ALSO FURIOUS ABOUT TOLLING HOV LANES My husband and I have been using the carpool lanes over 10 years now and we are unable to take on a third occupant due to slightly varying work hours coming from Lake Stevens to Bothell and Kirkland/Totem Lake. If the state wants to make revenue how about enforcing the HOV lane now with all the cheaters. Do the cameras actually see how many and state writing letters to the cheaters. how about the buses that shove their way into the HOV lane that we are going at a nice clip of 50-60 and when the buses come in it slows down to 40. And when there is the possibility of speeding, enforcing the speeding laws will create revenue We have in the past 3 weeks left home 15 minutes earlier as we noticed a great increase in traffic, whats up with that...oh yea the looky loos that are being startled by the blue flash cameras or the cheaters thinking they are finally being monitored and suddenly have to get back in the regular lane..or is it WSDOT not opening up lanes after night time construction clean up. Looks like we will have to get up even earlier and be on road before 530am to take Hwy 9 and get to work on time, as we all know that Hwy 9 is going to clog up too. Our commute should be a 20-25 min commute had now turned into an hour or more commute everyday..WE NEED MORE LANES!!!WHAT IS MY HORRENDOUS GAS TAX PAYING FOR?

Anonymous said...

Folks, wake up to the lie WSDOT has been telling for years about this project. THERE IS NO NEW I-405 LANE coming between 85th and 124th Streets in Kirkland. That was "already built" several years ago, so when this HOT project goes in, general purpose lanes drop from four to three so we get two HOT lanes. That means 100% of a current general purpose lane has to become carpool or pay just to maintain the gridlocked status quo. They keep sending out nwesletters and posting about this magic new extra lane which is nothing but a lie in this segment.

Robert Abooey said...

what? the government lied? heavens to murgatroid!

Anonymous said...

This is completely outrageous. We need more lanes on the 405 in Washington state. Coming from California, I think the amount of lanes on this fwy is absolutely ridiculous. Tolling the HOV lane is going to cause more traffic for everyone. And to be honest I don't remember the public being able to vote on this matter. I'm completely shocked and offended.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for blinding me tonight with your stupid blew lights int he HOV lane, will be posting a video, and probably filing for an injunctions. You do not get to take my life into by blinding me.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you live in a state with no income tax. They need money from somewhere and use taxes are the low-hanging fruit.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! I can't wait until they toll me for just driving my car. I have a better suggestion ad more lanes. There is plenty of room from 522 to I5. This will work as well as the idea of the stop lights to get on 405.

Anonymous said...

What about motorcycles? They can use HOV lanes as single occupant vehicles. That should continue here, and if it doesn't you should provide an explanation as to why.

Anonymous said...

Nevermind... Found the answer to motorcycles later in the FAQ.

Anonymous said...

I have been seriously startled in the dark hours with the flashing blue light from the cameras. Completely unsafe. Why not try a flash not in the visible light spectrum genious.

Anonymous said...

AMEN BROTHER! to Bob G. writing "Instead of prohibiting two-person carpools, why not restrict the HOV lanes to two *licensed* drivers? HOV lanes are about reducing cars on the roads, and by allowing soccer Moms to ferry their kids around in the carpool lanes, we are not reducing traffic on the roads, but we *are* increasing congestion in the carpool lanes."

FINALLY, someone else who gets the actual purpose of HOV lanes. One adult and one baby/toddler in a minivan does not reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

If WSDOT would continue to allow unlicensed drivers to count as acceptable HOV lane passengers, and not provide tighter enforcement on single occupant drivers using HOV lane...
THEN I AM TICKLED PINK THAT WSDOT IS TURNING THESE LANES INTO TOLL LANES!
HOW LONG DID YOU FIGURE YOU COULD ABUSE THE SYSTEM BEFORE IT CAVED IN ON YOU?

OCTOBER 16, 2014 AT 7:23:00 AM PDT

Anonymous said...

TO: "Anonymous said...
Just for your information. There is a gantrie in the left lane before 405 and I5 split north that is improperly placed as the car pool lane ends before the flash.

Hopefully this will be fixed or you will be charging people unfairly. Also, what if you have passengers in the back (kids) and nobody in the front passenger seat.

Are the cameras going to be able to tell this? I doubt it."

Speaking of "unfairly", are you aware what the purpose of HOV lanes are? Your unlicensed kids in the back seat shouldn't warrant you using the HOV lane. I'm glad WSDOT is finally taking care of this problem.

October 20, 2014 at 4:53:00 PM PDT

Anonymous said...

I SECOND THIS COMMENT... Anonymous said...
Where are all the pictures going that are currently being taken of vehicles that pass under the cameras during the "calibration period?"

AND I WOULD LIKE TO ADD...WSDOT response was "During system testing, we keep data for a few months before deleting it."

BUT WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT WSDOT IS DOING WITH THE DATA WHILE THEY'RE KEEPING FOR A FEW MONTHS BEFORE DELETING IT???? Don't know about anyone else, but I'm not just gonna trust WSDOT on this one.

WSDOT said...

You’re correct that WSDOT added an auxiliary lane (a short lane that allows traffic to merge into/out of the regular lanes from right-side highway entry/exit points) in each direction between Northeast 85th and Northeast 124th Streets in Kirkland. However, this lane is currently only goes about 1.5 miles before it “drops.” Our analysis found that we’ll be able to move higher volumes of traffic more efficiently by extending these auxiliary lanes and incorporating them into our final express toll lane system (which, as you noted, will have two express toll lanes and three continuous regular lanes in the Bellevue/Kirkland section).

Anonymous said...

WA is so corrupt it is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Although I dislike the tolling of public roads without it first going to vote, I have to point out some serious flaws in your point of view.

When you say "privilege" are you referring to the privilege you have of living in the United States, which puts you at the top 3% of disposable income in the world? Are you referring to the privilege of living in the Seattle area, which was least affected by the recession compared to the rest of the country? Us Americans have the privilege of speaking our minds, buying cigarettes, alcohol, good modern healthcare, yet we are the ones that take it all the most for granted. We live outside our means, buy ourselves luxuries, and then constantly complain when we don't have it "as good" as the next guy.

I don't consider being able to pay a toll for HOV lane usage to be a "privilege," it does however show where some people's priorities lie. If you would rather spend your 10$ on a road toll, a case of beer, a McDonald's meal, your healthcare, that lies in your control and shows where your priorities in life lie.

Anonymous said...

@Justin, maybe you crashed into the person ahead of you cause you were following too closely

Anonymous said...

Guess what people! Stop voting stupidly then if you don't like what's going on. Liberals lie all the time. They lie to get elected and then while they are in office and yet you turn around and vote them n again and again expect different results? Exercise some intelligence and maybe this stuff will stop and you'll get decent roads and a decent government too.

Anonymous said...

My family got surprised today while driving Nothbound by the flashing light. Looking for a sign or information about those flashing lights and camera but can't find any that says "HOV toll testing". If were paying our taxes why can't DOST afford a big sign along 405. That way taxpayers are aware of whats going on and get surprised. Now I will be force not to drive the HOV even I have my family with me because can't afford the toll.

Powder Ski Sue said...

Another example that money buys access on PUBLIC facilities that we already paid for in our taxes. Why should rich people get to their destination quicker? HOV lanes were meant to encourage ride-shares, now that incentive will go away as the HOV lanes fill up with paying customers. BAD IDEA!!

Anonymous said...

I used the 520 one time without a pass almost a year ago. I paid the toll on time on line. I still receive spam email stateing I haven't paid the toll. They are aware of the spam but can't seem to do anything about it. Now they are going to toll 405. Consumers beware you will receive spam too.

eatingmyworld said...

So let me get this straight, I pay taxes (very high ones at that) and those taxes are supposed to cover the cost of creating and managing roads. Washington having completely inept government has known we have some of the worst traffic and one of the worst public transportation systems in the US for decades, decides that the way to solve the traffic problem is to charge me more money to use the HOV lanes? The irony being that the HOV lanes are almost useless now depending on the time of day. Allowing rich people to pay to use them will shortly make them as slow as other lanes. I have an idea Washington, instead of trying to milk more money out of us for something you should be doing anyway, why don't you just open all carpool lanes up all drivers. One a highway with three lanes plus an HOV lane, this would improve traffic by a large margin as you can divide 3 lanes of traffic into 4. HOV lanes are as currently used a complete joke. When I am driving with my infant child, am I carpooling? I would love to see some statistics for how many ACTUAL people are CARPOOLING. My guess is not many. I think it may be a time for an Initiative to just change the law. If WSDOT can't manage roads, then maybe we need to just legislate it.

Jim said...

I am curious about what will happen in this scenario which I suspect might be quite common:

I commute on 405 regularly by myself. I might occasionally be in such a hurry that I would choose the new lane and to pay the fee, but usually would not. At least a few times a week I travel 405 with anywhere from 1 to 3 kids in my car. At those times, I'd like to use the HOV lane and not pay any fee, assuming my total number of occupants meets or exceeds the local required number (isn't this the definition of a valid carpool?). How will the system differentiate between my chargeable usage and unchargable usage? I'm worried that I'll have to monitor my Good To Go account daily to verify or dispute erroneous charges.

Anonymous said...

The results of the studies supporting this need to be made public ASAP. Perhaps WSDOT would be kind enough to post a link to them here. (Not holding my breath though.)

WSDOT said...

We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and questions on this blog. We’ve tried to address the main themes we’ve heard, but if you continue to have questions please free to email us goodtogotolling@wsdot.wa.gov so we can answer them specifically.

For those who’ve been interested, this report describes the results of the work WSDOT undertook in response to the Washington State Legislature’s 2011 direction which authorized express toll lanes on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/EastsideCorridor/Report.htm

Anonymous said...

Is there any long term planning for a new freeway to be created to the east of 405. We need a new route to connect I-5 to to I-90. 405 has out grown it's footprint in many areas. WSDOT needs to look at ways to give drivers other options which would remove taffic from existing roadways.

Dusanka Poljak said...

Exactly. I am disappointed in this money making no traffic solution. Converting HOV into express lane won't reduce number of cars on the road. If the distribution of the cars was the problem, money didn't need to be a part of the solution. I feel that good intentions of people from WA are taken advantage of. I feel scammed.

Dusanka Poljak said...

This helps only minority of the people on the road. You said it your self. HOV is already full during peak hours. Now, we will have even less people using g it. Hence, denser traffic in the other lanes.

It would be interesting to explore solutions like increased speed limits, speed lanes and such.

D said...

I think this is a fantastic idea! I moved here from Texas and utilized the toll roads there on a daily basis. I believe that any high traffic cities should have tolls. It helps with congestion and allows you more time in your day. Yes the tolls will cost you and can quickly add up quickly but so can the cost of gas. You will save greatly on gas by utilizing the tolls. Great job WSDOT!

tired of being microwaved said...

I am reeling in pain and shock from being scanned by the blnking blue scanner on my way from Lynnwood to Bellevue. Life didn’t used to feel so life threatening. This technology - what ever it is - must be doing so much damage to our health. I still have a reeling headache an hour later.

Anonymous said...

FCC standards are not stringent enough to protect us as they only based on heating.

Microwave exposure creates:

single strand and double strand breaks in cellular DNA and other types of DNA damage

Oxidative stress

Several types of cancer

Both male and female infertility

Breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, making the brain more sensitive to chemical and infectious agents

Lowered levels of nighttime melatonin; sleep disruption

Diverse neuropsychiatric changes, including depression

Changes in the electrical control of the heart including tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death

http://www.bi.edu/InstitutterFiles/Innovasjon%20og%20økonomisk%20organisering/MPall-BI-CSR20102014-Asheld.pdf

Please stop frying us to create easy transit for those with extra money.

Anonymous said...

Microwave exposure creates changes in the electrical control of the heart including tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death

This could potentially slow down the traffic in the HOV lanes for the wealty as the drivers start dying on the spot - oh well - just another statistic to be rolled into the risk assessment.

tired of being fried said...

There are literally thousands of studies that falsify the heating/thermal.SARS paradigm. This is one of the best that is out there.

http://www.bi.edu/InstitutterFiles/Innovasjon%20og%20økonomisk%20organisering/MPall-BI-CSR20102014-Asheld.pdf

I am so tired of being in pain from all this radiation that meets government standards. I think that historically a lot of harm has been done while meeting government standards.

tired of being fried said...

There are literally thousands of studies that falsify the heating/thermal.SARS paradigm. This is one of the best that is out there.

http://www.bi.edu/InstitutterFiles/Innovasjon%20og%20økonomisk%20organisering/MPall-BI-CSR20102014-Asheld.pdf

I am so tired of being in pain from all this radiation that meets government standards. I think that historically a lot of harm has been done while meeting government standards.

Anonymous said...

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

EHS affects some 3 - 7% of the population.

EHS has been recognized since at least the 1990’s.

In extreme, some people black out if someone turns on a cell phone standing near them.

EHS is formally recognized as a disability in several European nations, and bills are pending to have it covered in the parliaments of others.

ttp://bcn.boulder.co.us/health/rmeha/rmehemfs.htm

Now we have a technology that creates pain in 5% of the population if they decide to use three of our major freeways. Even better - the main reason for tolling 405 seems to be raise enough money to pay for the tolling equipment.

What a caring sociity we have created!

Anonymous said...

well this answers my question.
I was heading north on 405 and around the overpass at Totem lake I got an all encompassing pain in my head so bad I felt I should pull over,that lasted a minute or two. These cameras are microwave radiation guns and we are the target, just like the War Games the Military wants to do in the Olympic Peninsula that has been in the news (?) if so this is no way to live.
According to a friend that I consulted about this said there have been radar detection disasbling devices under the 124th st overpass for some time now . All of this is really unsettling and needs to be addressed by the masses. This money that is OUR money should have been OUR choice of how to sspend and we need to make them accountable for how the monies are spent, not just let them do what they want for peofit at our expence, money or health..

Anonymous said...

Some of us already drive around to avoid 520 --please don't electropollute 405 too!

Anonymous said...

This is going to increase the incidence of traffic accidents if people are sensitive to this kind of electromagnetic energy, and they experience pain, just from driving down 405.

This is horrible. For those of us who are sensitive, and I am one, this is a terrible thing to do to us. There have got to be people in WSDOT who are sensitive too. They stand to be hurt as well.

Anonymous said...

We DID vote on this. Am I the only person who voted yes on Initiative 1125? Did anybody even read it? Your state representatives wanted to toll I5, I405, I90 and 520 perpetually with NO end. Try reading the ballot measures for yourselves instead of relying on somebody's twisted interpretation to guide you. And thanks for blindly allowing this atrocity to be pushed on us all.

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/brief/citizens-guide-initiative-1125

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I found this blog. I've been wondering what those things were and I thought I got a speeding ticket even through I doing 55 MPH.

Anyway, this seems like another awful idea from the DOT.

Evilaunt said...

Instead of spending more money on this, how about painting some lane divider lines?? Tired of straining to see when it's all grey and misty from traffic. Then maybe, oh, I don't know, fix some of the craters out there too? Where are all the tax dollars going?

Evilaunt said...

Here! Here!

Evilaunt said...

I will sign!

gonghai said...

I totally freaked out when I saw it. I know i was within speed limit but not sure what the blue flash lights were

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