Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Recap: What we saw with the first week of #405ETL

By Emily Pace

With our first week of I-405 express toll lanes in the books, we wanted to provide a re-cap of what we saw with traffic. It’s important to keep in mind that this is just the first week in a settling in period that’s expected to take up to 6 months to a year.

Looking at regional traffic as a whole, we’re not seeing a major shift in drivers avoiding I-405 due to express toll lanes. What we have seen is that since October 2014, traffic volumes on major highway routes (I-405, I-5, I-90, SR 520 and SR 522) increased by up to 10 percent as the economy rebounded and more drivers are on the road. This nifty graph shows the regional increase we’ve seen on all highways.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_jvTFrTTI0hd0NXc1FNY1dtQ2M/view?usp=sharing
View Acrobat .pdf version of this graph
Even though we’re seeing higher traffic volumes on I-405, last week the average travel times were within the range of what we have seen on I-405 in the last year. Jumping back to last year on I-405, the average commute was 45 to 60 minutes, and every few weeks drivers had to plan up to 75 minutes to make it to their destination on time.

Now fast forward to last week. Let’s walk through what these graphs are telling us:
  • Last Monday, Oct. 28, the commute was average. Wednesday, Sept. 30 through Friday, Oct. 2, was better than average.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 29, the morning was a tough commute throughout the region, in large part due to the motorcycle accident on I-5. However, even on Tuesday the travel times on I-405 in the regular lanes were within the normal range looking back to what we’ve seen in the last year.
  • We’re seeing higher traffic volumes on I-405, but travel times are around average or better.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_jvTFrTTI0hd3M0WVhKRGxSeEU/view?usp=sharing
View Acrobat .pdf version of this graph
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_jvTFrTTI0hdmNJVTU5dG5QQms/view?usp=sharing
View Acrobat .pdf version of this graph

More drivers are using the express toll lanes
Over the course of last week, express toll lane volumes increased 15 to 20 percent:
  • Thursday, Oct. 1, Peak AM Commute: On southbound I-405, there were 14,000 vehicles in the express toll lanes.
  • Thursday, Oct. 1, Peak PM Commute: On northbound I-405 there were 12,000 vehicles in the express toll lanes.
  • This was an increase of about 3,000 vehicles using the express toll lanes in each direction since Monday, Sept. 28
For the typical toll of $1.50, express toll lanes are saving southbound morning peak commute drivers 25 minutes. For the northbound afternoon commute, express toll lane drivers are paying an average of $1 to save 15 minutes.

The two express toll lanes look empty.
The double express toll lanes between Bellevue and Bothell are moving more vehicles than the HOV lane did before. Before the express toll lanes, typical HOV lane volumes were about 1,600 an hour. Last week the double express toll lanes were carrying about 2,400 vehicles an hour.

What about other routes?
Even though we don’t yet have traffic volume data on other local routes, we’re working with cities and jurisdictions to monitor traffic on their roadways.

Wrapping up
I-405 express toll lanes have been a big change for drivers; however, early numbers from the first week indicate that the express toll lanes are doing what they were designed to do: giving drivers an option for a reliable trip.

We understand some drivers’ particular commute may have been longer. Commuters are adjusting their routine and are starting to get familiar with the express toll lanes.

Again, this is just the first week. Each day will be different and we’ll continue to monitor closely.

97 comments:

Jeff Gray said...

"The two express toll lanes look empty.
The double express toll lanes between Bellevue and Bothell are moving more vehicles than the HOV lane did before. Before the express toll lanes, typical HOV lane volumes were about 1,600 an hour. Last week the double express toll lanes were carrying about 2,400 vehicles an hour."

So, why no mention of the GP lanes in that same area that have ground to a COMPLETE STANDSTILL every morning since this abomination was begun?

Emily Pace said...

Hi @Jeff Gray ! We've included graphs showing I-405 travel times from last week. If you take a look, you'll see GP travel times were actually around average or better.

Chris Moody said...

You can show all of the graphs and charts that you want and try to control the narrative...but I drive on 405 almost every single day and it is WORSE in all the regular lanes, and the side streets seem to be getting flooded as well as people try to avoid 405 all together. I got on 405 at about 2PM yesterday and the on ramp from 520 was totally backed up. Unreal.

I think we know what the end game is here. Just like 520 tolls - people avoided at first but eventually the convenience of using 520 to get to Seattle from Kirkland/Bellevue is just to great. Then you start handing over more $$$ on top of the tax dollars you are already investing in the roads.

David R Lafferty said...

Benefits for 2 person carpools have been eliminated during commute times. Volume and pollution may continue to rise as these carpools disband.

Jofad said...

"I-405 express toll lanes have been a big change for drivers; however, early numbers from the first week indicate that the express toll lanes are doing what they were designed to do: giving drivers an option for a reliable trip."

Read your own project goals. The goal was not to "provide more options", it was to reduce congestion. And that goal has failed miserably.

Helena said...

The propaganda on these toll lanes is complete nonsense. These toll lanes were a huge mistake. Now they have awakened a sleeping giant as the people of this great state are angry and pissed off at this stupid project that makes traffic much much worse. We all need to keep calling are legislators and tell them we don't want this. It is working as our representative from Mill Creek is trying to get legislation to regulate tolls and the Washington State Transportation Commission who does not listen to the citizens of this state. This will give us time to block the toll lane project from being constructed from i90 south from Renton to Bellevue. Real Lanes for Real People!

P. Agarwal said...

1) While I understand how you can track the number of cars and trip times of cars in express lanes, can you shed light on these numbers are tracked for the regular lanes.

2) The entry/exit ramps for the toll lanes make them is so poorly planned, those who want to get in have to go at least a mile from the ramp in regular lanes before they can get in or get out.

3) Having tolls on the express lanes even off peak hours (after 7pm to 4am) when the traffic in the regular lanes is low and moving fast makes no sense except to make money.

4) asking 2 person carpools to pay during peak commute is a bad idea/money making tactic.

Emily Pace said...

@Chris Moody Thanks for your feedback on your commute. We'll be looking closely at how traffic on I-405 ramps and local streets is being impacted.

Emily Pace said...

@David R. Lafferty With the 2 person carpool requirement the HOV lanes on I-405 were often just as congested as the regular lanes during peak periods. Keeping the two-person requirement during peak periods would mean the express toll lanes would continue to be congested like they are today in the north end of I-405. Express toll lanes keep traffic moving and give drivers who don’t meet the occupancy requirement a new option to use the lanes by paying a toll.

Emily Pace said...

@Jofad I-405 is one of the most congested corridors in the state and we'll never eliminate congestion. While it's just the first week of a long adjustment period, express toll lanes are already providing a more reliable trip for transit, vanpools and carpools.

Emily Pace said...

@P. Agarwal I'll try and answer your questions the order in which you asked:

1) There are loops in the pavement which detect traffic volumes and speeds. 2) We realize designated access is a big change. We're monitoring closely how drivers are responding and may consider adjustments. We've already made changes to the entrance point on southbound I-405 at NE 160th St. 3) Tolls will adjust based on demand so when traffic volumes are lighter overnight and in the early morning, toll rates will be lower. 4) With the 2 person carpool requirement the HOV lanes on I-405 were often just as congested as the regular lanes during peak periods. Keeping the two-person requirement during peak periods would mean the express toll lanes would continue to be congested like they are today in the north end of I-405.

Jofad said...

"express toll lanes are already providing a more reliable trip for transit, vanpools and carpools." At the expense of everyone else. No one is asking to completely eliminate congestion, and it's rediculous for you to imply that that's what I'm asking for. The issue is that congestion in general lanes is WORSE than before. I'm not asking to eliminate congestion but at least it should be possible to bring it back to pre 405 ETL levels.

Helena said...

The toll lane experiment is a total failure. They need to stick with the original 2001 master plan that would have added 2 general purpose lanes in each direction as promised. Instead the gas tax money was used to build these toll lanes which were 100% paid for by the gas tax. Then they are going to give 75% of the money to a Texas company, which makes no sense. The people of this state should have had a say in this injustice. It's not over yet.

Cu Bong said...

Dear Pace
I don't oppose the ETLs, but I am wondering if WSDOT monitors those entry/exit point sections from Southbound I-405, I-405 is my daily commute for almost 20 years now, and below is my observations, that I would like WSDOT spend time and advise us
-The SR-520 exit/entry point on 405 southbound is taking too much space for non-sense reason, there is a big island between ETLs and GPLs , that makes all GPLs are now NARROWER and this section ( used to very wide open) now all the drivers travel in these lanes tend to be drive SLOWER when big container truck next or ahead of it, this is creating a BOTTLE NECK and created a congestion , this section never been heavy traffic like today
-You would answer that is because for safety , however why the exit/entry at 85th and 70th section is so SIMPLE ? it doesn't taking much space at SR-520 exit/entry point, and traffic seems to be smoother and not confused to drivers.
- My daughter travel from Lynwood to Woodinville , She uses ETLs but must take exit/entry point at 195th , and stuck in the GPLs for another 20' to get SR-522 East, due to no exit/entry point. Her travel time is about the same compare to those using GPLs, because She will stuck in GPLs eventually , But she has to pay for a toll, this is very inconvenience
thank you

Cranky in Kirkland said...

It still seems that the only reason to increase the carpool requirement from 2 to 3 during peak hours is one of profit. The project would have been much less controversial if you had simply changed the HOV lane into a HOT lane and left the carpool thresholds in place. I also find the limited access to the HOT lanes to greatly reduce their accessibility. I might gladly pay $0.75 or $1 to skip a backup, but doing so would require crossing the double-white line, and there is no way to anticipate the problem two miles up the road where the last entry point was passed.

helena lykken said...

This toll lane is one of the dumbest projects in recent memory. The people that implemented this should be voted out,and held accountable but wait? The Washington state transporation commission is responsible for this mess and they are not elected!!!! What a joke. People need to keep calling the representatives and tell them WE DON'T WANT THIS!!

Emily Pace said...

@Jofad While we're seeing higher volumes on I-405, our graphs above show last week's travel times for the I-405 regular lanes were within the average range we've seen in the last year. We even saw travel times were better than average on a couple of days. We realize traffic will be different each day as drivers adjust and we'll continue to monitor closely and share what we're seeing.

Raymond Wang said...

WSDOT, I dare you to conduct an I-405 toll project poll, and see what the public has to say. The fact is that the traffic on I405 regular lanes are WORSE, most ramps to I-405 in the toll area are MORE CONGESTED than before, especially the traffic on the ramp from 520 to I-405 north is a nightmare now.

Kirkland said...

Driving the I-405 Southbound corridor from home in Kirkland in A.M. to work at SeaTac since 1986 and of course my commute return home 4:00 - 5:00 SeaTac departure, South to North (my commute travel time is probably longer than any of the persons posting here have been in the area and for that matter possibly have been alive lol!)

405 has always had it's limitations, however.....
Once the high tech on the Eastside in the mid 80's expanded and expanded and people moving to the region for the high tech jobs where housing was within their budget purchased homes (at the time) , meaning Everett or the Kent Valley (Eastside too expensive to purchase and raise family, even though salaries are quite HIGH for the tech industry.) this quadrupled the Eastside, and the influx has been quite catastrophic for the Eastside 405 and local traffic during normal rush hour and increasing by far off peak.

Fellow commuters please understand one thing: housing, groceries & fuel is much, much, much more expensive the closer one lives to the high tech companies on the Eastside where many of you work. You knew this, and that is why you chose to purchase down south or up north and are experiencing total Eastside grid lock as the 405 corridor was not constructed to handle the traffic volumes both South and Northbound during the commute times..

DOT:
It is more than obvious that this is a $$$$ revenue for the is state based upon occupation of individuals employed on the Eastside in tech industry and salaries there of, for the toll lanes and usage.

You have provided statics for drive times on 405 corridor since the implementation and opening of the 405 commuter toll lanes in your charts and measures however you neglected to provide the accident rate yearly statistics previous to current....

VERY IMPORTANT

9:20 a.m. PDT, Tue October 6, 2015


LYNNWOOD, Wash. —


With the express toll lanes on Interstate 405 being a week, traffic flow may be improving slightly, but crashes have more than doubled.

Transportation officials told the Seattle Times that travel times on I-405 are on par for the same time last year despite a 5 to 10-percent increase in traffic volumes.

But 119 vehicles crashed last week compared to just 48 in the same week last year.

??HELLO!!??

DOT-
Please include 405 accident reports going forward in your stat charts including 405 high accident zones along Lynwood - Bellevue / Bellevue - Lynwood newly imposed toll lanes.

Very important to the daily commuter paying the taxes and tolls for this project......

Peter said...

Emily,

I'm pretty sure that doubling the toll lanes and not doubling the number of cars you counted passing on them is not something anyone looks at as success. How about allowing 2 person car pools into the 2 lanes (40% of the total lane space) to see if overall across the 5 lanes you move more cars per hour. The total cars moved per hour should be the target, not the false target of cars only in the toll lanes while everyone else get the same painful commute.

Peter

Mike Reph said...

I for one, as a non-governmental employee and non-WSDOT employee, have really enjoyed the toll lanes the last two weeks. I was a skeptic about the toll lanes at first but know I see the value it has created.

I spend $1.50 as a solo rider each day to cut my commute from 160th to Bellevue in half (yes, I don't carpool, and yes, it causes more pollution, but I'm in a sales role that requires a vehicle and would be riding solo regardless). I am more than happy to spend $2.50 per day to have 20 more minutes of time with my young kids and wife in the morning and 25 minutes at night back (leaving my home later and getting home earlier). That's 45 more minutes per day (averaging) I can spend with my loved ones for $2.50 per day. That's an extra 15 hours per month (20 commute days per month) to spend with my family for $60. Completely worth it and yes, I understand not everyone can afford that. But having the ability to cut your commute does provide value and the cost is fairly low (and yes, I realize they'll likely raise the cost just like 520).

I realize not everyone can get on at "easy" access points and that WSDOT hasn't created the "perfect" solution, but I guess I'll be the one guy that all the WSDOT haters out there will love to hate.

Well done WSDOT, thank you for providing some expediency to my commute and additional time with my family.

Frustrated 405 Commuter said...

After one week, you've got to be kidding me. This has got to be the biggest waist of money and one of the worst projects the WSDOT as ever attempted. The traffic times for us "normal" commuters has increased, not decreased. I thought the whole idea was to help decrease the traffic on 405, not increase it. I can not afford to pay for the Toll Lanes, nor do I think I should have to. I pay my taxes and buy my gas. That should be enough. Come on, Man!

Deana Couture said...

I agree with Mike Reph.I have used the HOT lanes since it opened and I too was sceptical at first but it has cut my commute time in half! Also lowers my gas bill and the wear and tear on my car. But most important my mental sanity has returned! When it was taking 70-80 minutes to get from Everett to Bellevue the mental strain was awful! Totally worth it to me.

The one concern I do have is the accidents. They seem to be being caused by people darting into or out of the HOT lane and crossing the double white lines. I personally have noticed quite a few close calls especially at the Mill Creek/Canyon Park Northbound exit. How are the State Patrol going to enforce this?

Chris said...

I lived in a city where most of the major roads were toll roads. The fact that 405 is half toll road and half open is a unique experience. If people are complaining about it being half and half, then it should switch over to being nothing but a toll road. Then everyone will have the same experience.

I personally would rather keep it the way it is. Granted, I carpool and get the enjoy the benefits. But now, even on the days I have to drive in solo, I have the option to pay the toll and enjoy the same benefit.

Even if I was not in a carpool, I would be willing to pay the toll and would just count it as part of my travel/gas budget.

Mr. Met said...

Surprised no one has mentioned the debacle with motorcycles. Motorcycles, even with the pass, are being charged the posted rate plus a photo fee. Instructions published by the DOT advise riders to call in if charged. That's a laugh; I've spend over 50 minutes on hold and have yet to speak to a human. Via email DOT has contacted me but there is no solution in sight to these erroneous charges. DOT get thy stuff together and serve the citizens of this state, not yourselves and quit patting yourselves on your back with data that be skewed to look like this is a success.

Moe Hussein said...

I drive on 405 every day, and it is worse by all means.
I don't feel its helping drivers as much its helping raising money.
Previously HOV lanes used to be open for all from 7PM to 5AM. This is not the case anymore.

Here is a suggestion, if you really want to improve traffic, try just for a single week to open those lanes for all, all the time, and then start introducing restrictions to help it if it even needed.

If this is strictly financial then the state should be paying for it, think about businesses, employee productivity, and gas expenses and you'll find that improving transportation will all payback for the state budget.

Another way of doing it, you can impose tax on businesses for a limited time to cover the project expenses

JewelyaZ said...

My husband and I made the decision to move from Woodinville to Bellevue back in 2007after we got tired of spending hours and hours in our cars every day. Housing costs ~$1000/month more, but we only have one (electric) car now which means our TOTAL transportation cost is about 20 cents a mile including the lease, the electricity, and tires (it doesn't require oil changes or any of the rest of the gasoline-engine maintenance; we have the batteries checked once a year, tire rotation is free and they will need replacing after three to four years, and the brakes will need to be done at ~80,000 miles, which is going to take us over 6 years!) Our gasoline cars were over 50 cents a mile to operate, and we had two of them on the road every day... we save well over $1000/month on transportation now. We drive fewer miles to our jobs/schools as they are all within four miles of home but most importantly, as a family of four, we got back EIGHT HOURS A DAY to do what we want, no longer enduring the frustrations of traffic jams and exposing ourselves to the risks of collisions.

I don't care about the HOT lanes on 405 and I love the toll on 520. We are almost always a carpool of three or four anyway, and we don't rely on any highways for our trips to work and school, so on the rare occasions when we need to use them, I'm happy to pay to sail past the traffic. I feel sorry for folks stuck in that traffic, but remember, you CHOOSE where to live and work, nobody forces that long commute upon you. You can change your life for the better by moving closer to the things that you do every day, and the time you get back is the sweetest reward. You'll probably save money, too, so actually sit down and do the math before deciding that it's impossible.

Jofad said...

I'm happy that the tolls have worked out for you but please get off your high horse. 3+ person carpool is often not feasible for people for without families.

You're right. I chose to live where I do to avoid traffic. I made that decision BEFORE the tolls were put in place so please don't blame me for not taking it into account when choosing where to live. I only have a few miles on I405 between work and home, but it's the same area that added the new lanes and It has nearly doubled the time to get home. While I do have the means to pay the toll I still can't use the HOV because I would not be able to safely exit the lane and still make it to my exit.

jackdanielsusacom said...

I can't believe this is their big plan to fix traffic on 405. I understand there is no easy solution but the only way the express toll lanes flow faster is by pushing everybody who can't afford to pay the tolls off onto the general purpose lanes or side streets. Yes the mostly empty toll lanes flow right along now but the traffic on all the side streets is horrendous. I used to carpool to work semi-regularly but now you need three people to carpool so I can't do this anymore, it's hard enough manage two! As if that wasn't enough, I can't enter or exit the express lanes near work or near home so they're completely useless and I'm stuck slogging through worse traffic than before. Thanks a lot guys, great work. At least the rich folks will be able to get to and from Seattle faster. It seems like nobody wants these toll lanes yet WSDOT responds to criticism with the same lame canned non-responses.

Anybody know who is responsible for this nonsense that we can vote out come next election? Someone who will push to scrap the whole system has my vote.

Matt said...

I still have yet to see a reasonable explanation for HOV lanes in general, toll or not. They say the purpose of the HOV lanes is to "reward" people whom carpool which reduces emissions etc.

However if the whole point of the HOV lanes is to reduce emissions, how is that accomplished when the HOV lanes are wide open and the general lanes are stop and go? The best way to reduce emissions from vehicles on the road is to have them idling as little as possible and moving as fast as possible until they reach their destination.

Restricting the amount of lanes traffic can use does the complete opposite of obtaining this goal. If they really cared about the environment and reducing emissions, they would make as many lanes as possible open to EVERYONE.

These toll lanes are just a big money grab, our tax money has been collected by EVERYONE whom pays taxes for the roads, not just people whom carpool.

Steve in Bothell said...

This whole thing is extremely frustrating. What I've noticed:
- 405 has more traffic unless one is willing to pay the toll
- Bothell Way seems to have more traffic now
- There is traffic on the 405 on the weekends

I really don't understand what the goal of DOT is. Is it to make it easier for us to get to work and to enjoy our weekends...or is it to collect more fees? I am very frustrated and am fed up. I don't remember voting for this. How is it that you all can just make these changes?

Dale Vitiaz said...

Since the elimination of the two person carpool, my daughter and i now take seperate vehicles.

WSDOT said...

Helena – We want to assure you that your opinions are being heard. The Legislature actually authorized tolling on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood, the Commission set the toll rates and exemptions, and WSDOT implemented the project. As with any big changes to the roadway, it will take time for drivers to get used to the new express toll lanes system and its effect on their commute. However, we are actively monitoring the new system and are prepared to make adjustments if it becomes apparent that they are needed.

WSDOT said...

Thank you for your feedback, Raymond. We solicited public input on the I-405 express toll lanes from many thousands of people since 2009, through various methods. We’re in a 6-month to 1-year settling in period with these big changes to the roadway, and it will take time for drivers to get used to the new system and adjust.

WSDOT said...

Chris, thanks for your comments. There are no plans to make I-405 a fully tolled highway. We’re glad you are enjoying the benefits of carpooling in the I-405 express toll lanes and sharing your experience.

WSDOT said...

Hi Mike, we are so glad to hear you have had a positive experience with the new express toll lanes. A faster commute and more time to spend with your family are what it’s all about. Thanks for sharing.

WSDOT said...

“After one week” are the key words. We’re at the beginning of a 6-month to 1-year settling in period, as experienced in other express toll lane locations. Big changes like this take more than a week, or even a few weeks, to have their desired effect. Paying your taxes and buying your gas would have you still sitting in traffic with no way out. With express toll lanes, you have an option to get out of the traffic and go at least 45 mph. No one says you have to do it every day. It’s there when you need it.

WSDOT said...

Hi Deana, thanks for your comment. We’re glad to hear you’re enjoying the new express toll lanes! In regard to concerns about accidents, the State Patrol has extra troopers out watching for violations and educating drivers about the new rules. The safety of drivers is of the utmost importance to us, which is why our project budget included the funding for these additional trooper patrols.

WSDOT said...

Cu Bong, thank you for posting your observations. We are closely monitoring the access points and traffic operations. We have used more temporary striping around the access points in case adjustments, as reviewed by our professional engineers, should be made or not. We appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback.

WSDOT said...

Helena, please give this change more than a couple of weeks before declaring it a total failure. Other express toll lane facilities around the country have seen a 6-month to 1-year adjustment period. The I-405 Master Plan said it would add up to two lanes in each direction; it did not say they would be general purpose lanes. The vast majority was paid for with the gas tax, but it also included federal and local funding.

Regarding the costs to maintain the system, 65 percent of the tolls collected go to maintenance and operations of the I-405 express toll lane system. The vendors used for tolling are the few and sometimes only businesses providing toll services in the country. Most of the vendors that support tolling have home offices in other locations, and base their employees in Washington. Over half of the work is performed by two companies that combined have over 125 employees in the Seattle region for customer support and transaction processing. Washington State Patrol reflects nearly 20 percent of the overall work. Credit card fees are a significant portion of administrative costs, followed by printing and postage.

WSDOT said...

Peter, our goal is to increase the number of people moved, not the number of vehicles. For example, a full bus can hold the equivalent of 20 full cars. Of course the lane is going to look emptier with one bus than that many cars. But we’re still moving the same number of people. We already know what happens when we allow 2-person carpools during peak periods in the HOV lanes – the lanes don’t meet federal standards of moving traffic 45 mph 90% of the time during peak periods. We have to limit the express toll lanes to 3+ carpools during peak periods to move more people in fewer vehicles.

WSDOT said...

It would have been less controversial, but it also would not have reduced congestion. We needed to make more room in the HOV lanes to move traffic faster. Leaving the carpool requirements the same and adding a toll would add more traffic, as solo drivers could buy their way in. As for the access points, we’re closely monitoring them and will consider making changes if our engineers deem the changes appropriate.

WSDOT said...

@MrMet Motorcyclists should not worry, let us know if you get charged for riding your bike on I-405 and we will reverse the charge. Fixing the root cause of this may require you to visit a customer service center (we suggest Seattle, the lines are shorter there right now). Based on what you describe, it sounds like your pass isn't sending a signal to the tolling equipment. If you installed the pass according to our instructions, that could mean that the pass is defective or that something on your bike is interfering with the signal. When you visit us, we will test the pass, figure out what exactly is causing this, and fix it. In the meantime, email goodtogo@goodtogo.wsdot.wa.gov and we will reverse the charges without you having to wait on hold (although it may take us a few days to send you a confirmation email).

Helena said...

Putting a toll lane on the I405 from Renton to Bellevue before adding the much needed general purpose lanes will be one of the biggest mistakes in transportation history. I was at the Kennydale meeting a few years back when the WSDOT came and told us neighbors that the state was going to add 2 general purpose lanes to help prevent neighborhood freeway traffic from cutting through our neighborhood. Traffic is already terrible on this stretch of freeway and from I have seen on the northern part of I405 and it will become a traffic catastrophe.

factometer said...

WSDOT says "we already know what happens when we allow 2+ carpool"... WSDOT, No, you have no idea what happens. You only know what happens with ONE carpool lane on 405, not TWO. And the two are mostly EMPTY. In fact, the entry/exits are so poorly designed, entering/exiting drivers are forced into the general lanes, for a mile(s) at a time, such as 520, 85th, 522, creating WORSE traffic because of your 'illegal' crossing lines. (duh?) It's clear the design focus was politics as usual, tracking tolls, writing tickets, charging fees, 'catching people' and making it punitive for general lanes. Instead of just increasing flow & alleviating congestion. Backup are worse on 520. The NB signs for 160th & 522 are backwards. Accidents are up 200%. Most of the tolls go to pay for the toll system, vendors, administration & police. What do drivers get?
Why not create a system that is citizen friendly, with no additional administrative burden??? You should have just added 1 extra HOV 2+lane, fix the tolls to 75 cents at any access point & forget distance or exit points (how greedy are you?), eliminate all illegal crossing stripes, and open all lanes up off-peak with no tolls. And if you were really caring & concerned for citizens, you'd give those passes out to all drivers for free, and let them activate with a credit card mobile app as needed, instead of 'pre-loading' $30+ bucks and charging $15 for the pass. It might encourage non-commuters to pay for a spontaneous trip once in a while.
A 6-12 month 'settle in' period ? You mean acquiesce? This is a tax & should have public vote. Need even more money? Don't allow kids to count for HOV. Kids don't drive & it's not taking extra drivers off the road. Parents w/kids should pay tolls as well. Do commissioners pay tolls?

stevetttt said...

ENTRY/EXIT ACCESS ADDITION REQUEST:
My situation is I enter out of 195th ST Exit 24 going southbound and I have to sit through about 3 miles of traffic before I can enter to access the TOLL lanes. This adds another 20 mins to my commute to Redmond making it worse than what it used to take with HOV lanes. This is with me PAYING the TOLL and I'm sure in general purpose lane, it would take like an hour.
Can we please add an access to TOLL going southbound entering after 195th St before 522 merges? We are willing to pay but being stuck before we can enter isn't really improving our situation.
Another points to consider is entering 405 from 520 northbound and also exit after 522 for 195th St Exit 24 northbound.
THANK YOU so much if you can make this change.

Niko said...

Extra 405 lane was built with all taxpayers' federal and state money, on public land and it's not fair that only few get to enjoy its benefits. Many people whose paychecks tax dollars have contributed to its cost are stuck in traffic, as shown by 405 lane usage in your data.

Is there anything we can do to remove restriction on newly built lane? That would improve commute time for majority. Are there any PACs in Washington which could put such proposal on the ballot for next elections? Please advice.

WSDOT said...

Moe, the express toll lanes have only been operating for a couple of weeks. Experience with other express toll lane locations across the country shows it takes 6 months to a year for drivers to settle in and adjust to the new lanes. We’ve already tried fewer restrictions – allowing 2-person carpools during peak hours broke down performance to a point where the HOV lane did not meet federal standards of moving traffic 45 mph 90 percent of the time. The primary purpose of the express toll lanes is to reduce congestion, not to generate revenue.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We’re glad you enjoy the I-405 express toll lanes on the rare occasions you use the highway, and appreciate the value of time saved.

WSDOT said...

Jofad, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m sorry to hear the express toll lanes aren’t working out for you. We expect traffic in the general purpose lanes to improve as well, as we go through the 6-months to a year settling-in period. We’re also monitoring the access points and will consider making changes if our engineers deem them appropriate.

WSDOT said...

Hi Steve – thank you for sharing your concern and commute story. We’ve heard similar commute stories from other folks, and I assure you we’re keeping track of these requests. Our engineers are monitoring the issues and will adjust access points if necessary. Thank you for your patience while we work through the kinks of this new system.

jonstephen25 said...

As someone that commutes the corridor, I think most people have commented on the initial experience that I've had so no need to beat that dead horse further. I would like to know from WSDOT if there will be published revenue numbers on a monthly basis as well as the associated costs to maintain the tolling infrastructure. I'd like to know whether or not this is truly generating positive revenue for the state, and better understand (if so) how that money will be allocated to support drivers in the future.

On the flip side of that, if this effort does not end up generating positive cash flow to support other projects (light rail expansion, roadway improvement, et. al.) I'd like to know what the Commission will be using to determine if there's a need to cut losses and pull the plug.

Thanks in advance.

Jeff Gray said...

Was creating massive, miles long backups on the ramp from 520 to 405 north also part of the master plan? If so, well done, because that has succeeded in spectacular fashion. It now takes me, every day, an extra fifteen minutes of commute time JUST TO GET DOWN THE RAMP. And what awaits me as I merge on to 405? GP lanes that are at a total standstill and Extortion Toll Lanes that are empty.

I don't know if it is going to take lawsuits (like the one for the thousands of double billed tolls people have already received that you should expect shortly) or a 'critical mass' type of protest with drivers intentionally bring 405 to a complete halt to get this system scrapped, but I assure you it will come to that. People are OUTRAGED and the anger grows by the day. To try to dismiss this by saying 'give it a year' is a complete cop out and a glaring example of how poorly planned this whole debacle has been.

WSDOT said...

Hey Niko, we understand that this is a big change for drivers in the Puget Sound area. However, express toll lanes on I-405 provide a choice for drivers that previously did not exist. That choice enables drivers to have a predictable trip when they really need it most.

Over the last decade, we have explored a large range of solutions to fix the traffic issues along the I-405 corridor and have found this to be a solution that will help reduce congestion and improve reliability for all. The carpool requirements on the new system are a result of extensive public discussion and evaluation, as well as decisions made by WSDOT in conjunction with the Washington State Transportation Commission.

WSDOT said...

Stevetttt – We want to assure you that your comments have been passed along to our project team. We are actively monitoring the use of the express toll lanes along the I-405 corridor and will make striping adjustments as needed.

John R. said...

I do not like that you are requiring car pools to be 3+ instead of 2+. I went through the process of setting up a FlexPass and GoodToGo but can only use it on weekends because most of the time the signs says 3+ HOV. It's confusing! Make it 2+ HOV so carpools can use the lanes!

Also, frankly I don't care for the toll lanes at all. I've been told that all the money made by them is going out of state to pay for the work to create them in the first place. Additionally, why didn't you make the toll lanes on I5? You guys think we on the Eastside have lots of money so you'll just help yourselves. We only have one option for travel, I405, and we on the Eastside have no local government offices (everything is in Seattle) -- taxation without representation all over again!

Krampster said...

What has this done for bus commutes? Wouldn't there be huge wins there? Have carpooling sites seen an uptick in usage?

I usually carpool 3+, and have been loving the shorter commutes.

IRATE NON 3+ commuter said...

When I bought my house 33 years ago, my crystal ball must have been defective..it did NOT warn that my DAILY commute on I405 would be through the most congested section in the state. I have had the displeasure of sitting in traffic and observing many many solo drivers in the 2+ HOV lane. With that being said, I'm not surprised that the lanes don’t meet federal standards of moving traffic 45 mph 90% of the time during peak periods. Now SOME of those big SUV's and cars with tinted windows with a solo driver are switching to the GP lanes PLUS the 2+ carpoolers, traffic is intolerable. I feel my blood pressure rise as I'm getting on SB I405 for my 16 mile 90+ minute commute home. All the while seeing miles of empty 3+ HOV lanes. Gads, why didn't I expect this 33 years ago??

IRATE NON 3+ commuter said...

What about a 2 seater vehicle..can they ride free in the HOV lane? Explain to me how a newborn, youngster or non licensed driver counts for the HOV status??

Sergey Sheinblum said...

rkland resident for 28 years. my commute became nightmare with 2 lanes given to TOLL. i don't care what graphs are saying - what i do care is i pay huge taxes to have my family at least descent drive out from home and back home.
1. the private company,the company that operates the toll, is steeling money - requesting to have 30$ to deposit on each car (my family is 4 cars) in order to be able to RIDE HOV 2+ on toll.!!!!! and....only at no peek hours..
2. the lanes on TOLLS are COMPLETELY EMPTY WHEN I'm driving to work and from work!!!! so far for 3 weeks....but other lanes (considering that 2!!!!! lanes are out) are bumper to bumper in kirkland area ( 3 exists)....not mentioning that cars that are entering highway are moving MUCH SLOWER because of traffic jams....

the whole idea of having toll road in the most heavy part of I5, closing 2 lanes, might be good for private companies ...but certainly not for residents of kirkland...

on weekends, last 2 weeks, it is almost impossible to drive out into highway from 116th or 124th or 85th going south....!!!!
how come that in ONE DAY...ONE DAY....this GRACONIAN TOLL HAD BEEN ENFORCED???????!!!!
it must take months to experiment and try out - check on stats and opinion of CITIZENs ....or ... 1 day!!!! and what do you expect me to do????!!!
i won't pay a penny, even my company is covering commute...

and one more point to all of this mess!!!! - the private companies ARE COLLECTING PRIVATE CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION THAT THEY OPERATE WITH ANY SECURITY ENFORCEMENTS BASED ON THEIR WEB SITES - I"D ENCOURAGE GOVERNMENT SECUTIRY CLerKS to ENFORCE FIRST SECURITY CONFIDENTIAL LAWS ON THOSE WEB SITES ...where people are openly (in open text) are giving their information to ...it is the bomb ...and it will go....some day...
ridiculus how it have been managed, implemented, enforced and neglected to be good for residents!!!!!

halt TOLL LANES IMMEDIATELY!!!!

IBelieve said...

I cannot help but notice there is no mention by the WSDOT of the Highway Patrol report that there has been a 250% increase in accidents since the lanes opened. I suppose WSDOT will claim more accidents do not affect travel time either.

WSDOT said...

The 2+ carpool requirement is in place from 9am-3pm and 7pm to 5am Mon-Fri and all hours on weekends. The Transportation Commission approved a carpool policy to require 3+ during peak times on weekdays because the HOV lanes were already congested at 2+ at peak. By changing the requirement to 3+ during peak times, and 2+ at off-peak times, the express toll lanes can keep traffic flowing at 45 mph or greater, providing faster, more predictable travel times for all users. We understand this is an adjustment, but I assure you, the reason for implementing the express toll lanes on I-405 was not due to the income levels of Eastside residents. It is a traffic management tool used to create an express way within current pavement – providing a reliable trip where it didn’t exist before. While some folks won’t use them every day, they are there when you need that reliable trip—maybe to get home faster to care for a child, or to get to a meeting or appointment on time.

WSDOT said...

Helena – We understand your concerns. However, over the last decade we’ve explored a range of solutions to congestion on I-405 including adding more regular lanes, improvements to local roads, increasing transit service, adding Park & Ride spaces and vanpools. We know from experience here and across the nation that we cannot build our way out of congestion with the addition of general purpose lanes. Express toll lanes have been a successful strategy for addressing urban congested highways in more than 30 locations throughout the U.S. and we look forward to seeing traffic improve along the I-405 corridor.

WSDOT said...

Safety on the roadway is our number one priority. We are listening to drivers' issues with the express toll lanes access points, and are monitoring situations to see how we might improve those access points toward an easier, safer trip. We have also asked for increased driver awareness while we go through this adjustment period of 6-12 months.

WSDOT said...

2-seater cars can ride free in the express toll lanes with a Flex Pass in HOV mode when the carpool requirement is 2+ - that’s 9am-3pm and 7pm to 5am Mon-Fri and all day on weekends. Per state law, the definition of "people" is not limited by age or licensing status.

Cu Bong said...

-is there any WSDOT study about how the local road is impact after ETLs open on 405 ?
I leave in Bothell for last 2 decades but never seen southbound SR-527 getting heavy traffic early in the morning ? people seem to avoid 405 south in the morning so they use SR-527 Bothell Everett highway instead , the ETLs are putting burden to local residents now, school buses getting late, parents also affect because late pick up from school bus and get stuck on SR-527
- the SR-520 exit/entry at south 405 is a mess, why do we use too much spaces for weave, why don't WSDOT just do simple dash lines as 85th /70th exit point. This area has never been messed before, GPLs are now narrower , drivers squeeze through narrower GPLs, they pissed off and many drivers intentionally don't yield cars that just exit from ETLs because they CUT THEM OFF
- Oh my God, WSDOT please do some adjustment immediately with these access point, they don't need any scientist or laboratory to adjust these access point, we are suffering the mess on 405, even though I spend average $6.50 /day on ETLs
-yesterday around 5:45 PM it took me 15' on ETLs from SR-522 to SR-527 , you failed to commit 45 mph, I paid for ETLs and didn't get what I expected

WSDOT said...

We’re in the third week of the new express toll lanes system, and I understand your frustration with traffic during this adjustment period. Indeed, a lot has changed over the past 33 years, most notably growth on the Eastside. In fact, that growth is one of the major reasons the Transportation Commission changed the carpool requirement to 3+ during weekday peak travel times. U.S. Census data shows that over the last 10 years, the population on the Eastside, from roughly the Snohomish County line to Newcastle and everything east of Lake Washington to the crest of the Cascades, increased 15  percent. And Washington’s residential and employment populations are only projected to increase when the population of the city of Portland will be added to our region. While it may take up to a year for traffic to reach a state of “normal”, we believe the express toll lanes are an important tool to help us manage the growing demand on our roadways.

Vickie said...

I have found the ETL lines mostly a pleasant experience and I use it in 3+HOV mode mostly. Here are my suggestions:
- Please add an access point when entering from Bothell going 522EB onto 405NB closer to the on-ramp. Having to stay in the GP lane until way up by 527 adds quite a bit to the trip.
- Please add an egress point closer to 522EB (Woodinville) rather than way back by 195th - sitting in the GP lane adds quite a bit to the trip.
- Fix the access point from 522WB onto 405NB; it is a mess. Earlier access not merged in with 527 traffic needs to be worked out or perhaps somehow put in a ETL only ramp.
- Something better has to be done about the double lines. Too many people are crossing over them erratically and unsafely - maybe there needs to be real dividers or those flexible poles with reflectors on them - something to keep drivers from just crossing over whenever they feel like it and cutting other drivers off

Emily Pace said...

@Vickie Thank you Vickie for your feedback regarding the access points and striping. We will pass this along to our engineers and appreciate you taking the time to provide your observances. We will be monitoring closely how drivers are adjusting to the new access points and striping and making adjustments as needed.

Emily Pace said...

@Krampster We've seen buses benefitting from a more reliable trip in the express toll lanes. We've distributed nearly 30,000 free Flex Passes to carpoolers through RideshareOnline.com and heard feedback from folks who will look for additional carpoolers to share the ride.

Helena said...

This toll lane experiment is a complete failure and one of the dumbest projects in Washington state history. People need to keep calling the legislators and tell them we do not want this. The people should have had a decision in this. I was at the Kirkland meetings and No one I talked to wanted these lanes. Let's hope Tim Eyman and his initiative
Comes out soon so the people of this great state can finally have a voice and vote this injustice out for good! "Real Lanes for Real People"

SuperFrustrated said...

DOT has got to be the most unpopular government agency in WA right now, by creating this huge mess on 405. I have been driving on 405 almost daily for over 10 years. This is the worst congestion I've seen. Has anyone mentioned the unprecedented long wait time at onramps, no matter what time of the day it is? Before the toll lanes I rarely had to wait at the ramp to get on 405 on weekends, now even weekends the ramps are metered. Yes the HOV lanes are there and almost empty, but it's impossible for me to use them. I don't mind paying a couple of bucks, but for the less than 10 miles I travel on 405 there're no access points for me to get on or off!!! Well done DOT, you created a bottle neck between Bellevue and Kirkland.

Peter said...

WADOT,

Above you say, "We know from experience here and across the nation that we cannot build our way out of congestion with the addition of general purpose lanes."

If this were true then don't bother ever building a 2 lane highway. Build 1 lane and toll it up. Obviously as with any transportation mechanism (be it tcp/ip networks, radio frequency bands, power lines, and roads) more channels help. Toll lanes are Quality of Service mechanisms, but they can only help even out traffic when congestion is bursty and short lived but cannot solve permanent congestion.

I understand you want to move more people and not cars. So you argue for compression. Shove more people into buses and less cars will be on the road.

But compression has an upfront and endpoint cost that you are not adding into the equation, the overall time to get from a to b increases. Measure it from the point people leave their homes to the point they walk into their office door, not the time just on the 405. This latency increase is endured by the majority of travelers who are either being placed in the low quality lanes or have to go through waiting for buses. The few who pay get both no pre/post 405 compression and open lanes on the 405.

This added latency that most experience costs the state and people huge amounts opportunity. All you did was shift the problem to pre/post i405 experience.

Build more lanes that are open to everyone with the tax dollars that are paid by everyone and stop penalizing the poorest of our society.

Peter

Bin Hu said...

I'm on I-405 ETL almost every day since it is open. Here are my pain points and suggestions:

1. From my observations, the entry / exit creates more congestion which makes ETL less efficient. Drivers have to cross several lanes to exit I-405 from ETL or vice versa. All the time I paid and saved on ETL is returned back when entering / leaving ETL. To reduce congestion, it is always better to have all drivers move fast instead of make some faster while others slower. That won't work.


2. No enter / exit around 195th ST

3. It looks like the ETL system is very flexible, why not open to more public at first (say, 2+ for free, 1+ for free from 7pm-5am), and then restrict more based on data?

4. Last, how better will the congestion reduces, can we say that a $155,000,000 project is successful? 10%, 20%? The best metrics is the time spend on GP lanes, instead of how much time we can save on ETL.

Elwood Blues said...

There we were, 11.00am Saturday morning on I405 in Canyon Park. Stationary, with about 500 other cars while the toll road was empty as far as the eye could see except for the odd car diving back into the regular lanes when they spotted the poor lonely State Trooper sitting there eating his donuts.

That project has clearly been a huge success. Traffic in the HOV lane has been reduced by at least 95%. I know that for a fact, as I sat there for ten minutes looking at it.

Elwood Blues said...

I used to live in Kirkland and work at UW. 13 miles away. I had to be outside my front door at the bus stop at 6.00am to get to work by 8.00am, and I would walk back in my front door at 6.30pm after an 8 hour shift. I had two and a half hours at home each night before I had to be asleep. 2 hours to travel 13 miles by bus. I did that for a year and quit as I never saw my kids.

It's unbelievable.

Elwood Blues said...

I got stuck on I405 in Canyon Park on Saturday morning. Total gridlock in the middle of a freeway. On. A. Saturday. It took me half an hour to get from Lynnwood to Totem Lake. On the way home I just did a rat run through Juanita. 15 minutes and I was home. I swore off the 520 Bridge when it became the Rich Man Highway. I guess the 405 has just become an extension of the Rich Man Highway. Traffic volumes will definitely go down at this rate. Good job!

WSDOT Toll Division said...

Hi Sergey – The express toll lanes have only been operating for a couple of weeks. Experience with other express toll lane locations across the country shows it takes 6 months to a year for drivers to settle in and adjust to the new lanes. The $30 required to open a Good To Go! account is for you to use on your tolls or to purchase a new pass, should you need one. If you never use the $30, let GoodToGo@GoodToGo.wsdot.wa.gov know and they can help you out.

WSDOT Toll Division said...

Hi IBelieve – Driver safety is our number one priority. Collisions do impact travel times. We are working closely with WSP to monitor use of the new express toll lanes and will make adjustments as necessary to encourage safe driving behavior.

WSDOT Toll Division said...

Hi alexnotoll – We’re beginning our fourth week of the new express toll lanes system, and I understand your frustration with the new toll system and traffic during this adjustment period. With the 2 person carpool requirement the HOV lanes on I-405 were often just as congested as the regular lanes during peak periods. Keeping the two-person requirement during peak periods would mean the express toll lanes would continue to be congested like they are today in the north end of I-405. Express toll lanes keep traffic moving and give drivers who don’t meet the occupancy requirement a new option to use the lanes by paying a toll.

Jofad said...

@WSDOT you're missing the point with the 3+ HOV status. Sure peak hours may need 3+ to keep the toll lanes flowing at 45+. But what about off peak? The old HOV lanes opened up after 7pm. Why can't the toll lanes open up off peak like they used to? Unless of course you're goal is to suck as much money out of us rather than actually reducing traffic which seems to be the case here.

Elwood Blues said...

I just checked every camera between NE40th and SR527 and saw exactly three vehicles in the toll lanes. Should that be considered a success? To me that is a six lane freeway being utilized at 67%. That sounds like a failure to me.

Elwood Blues said...

I tried to sign up for a pass and the website doesn't work. I tried to phone and was left on hold for half an hour and I gave up. But I bet if I drove in the tollway my fine would turn up with no problems. Good job!

WSDOT said...

@SuperFrustrated, I'm sorry to hear about your frustration. Drivers are starting to get adjusted to the express toll lanes - it usually takes about six months to a year for the settling-in period. I understand it's hard to deal with the congestion. As for the access points, we're monitoring those and may make changes if our engineers find it's appropriate.

WSDOT said...

@Bin Hu, thank you for sharing your suggestions. Limited entry and exit on the ETLs are a new concept for I-405 drivers and they're just starting to get used to it. As more people choose to use the ETLs, the whole highway will operate more efficiently. We're monitoring the access points and will consider making changes if our engineers decide it's appropriate. We've already tried fewer restrictions in the left lanes when they were HOV, and they were often as congested as the regular lanes. The performance measures we need to meet are spelled out in legislation, but basically the goal is to keep the express toll lanes moving at 45 mph or greater at least 90 percent of the time during peak periods.

stevetttt said...

Hi WSDOT,

For everyone who is asking to add Entry/Exit specially for SB and NB out of 195th St, you response is same i.e. "We are monitoring and will only take action is your Engineer deems appropriate".
Now, even if hundreds of residents who suffer through this everyday is requesting this, we all have to be in mercy of that "wsdot engineer" who may come back and say its not necessary?? I mean, isn't the ask clear that without this entry point, the Toll lanes are useless since it takes us more time due to wait to get into the lane? Why can't you take some action since so many people are already requesting it. Or have your engineer drive through it EVERYDAY to realize that.
THank you

WSDOT said...

Peter – We understand your frustration. WSDOT has worked for years to develop a solution to the congestion along I-405 and we know that building more general purpose lanes is not a long-term solution.

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. People who take transit, vanpool, or carpool will all be exempt from tolls and benefit from a faster, more reliable trip.

WSDOT said...

Our goal is to provide a reliable trip to drivers on the I-405 corridor. Traffic volumes during the off-peak hours, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. are typically much lighter than the peak commute periods. We change the carpool requirement on the Express Toll Lanes to 2+ to help carpools and single occupant drivers get around any residual pockets of congestion along the corridor.

Elwood Blues said...

I wonder what it would take for WSDOT to stand up and say that this was a failure, and the old system worked better without tolls. Is that even possible, I wonder. The reason I say this, is I can't get a pass. The website crashed when I tried to set up a carpool account, and I can't get through by phone. I even tried emailing. No answer. So, no pass for me. My needs aren't being met. Thanks. That could well explain why when I just checked the toll lanes between 40th and 527 they were EMPTY. Hmmmm...

WSDOT said...

Elwood, I’m sorry to hear you got stuck in traffic on Saturday. This is just the beginning of a six-month to one-year settling-in period while drivers get used to the express toll lanes. It is an option to use the express toll lanes without a pass; the system will take a photo of your license plate and send you a bill in the mail at a higher rate. If you still want to sign up for a pass, instructions are on our website: 1.usa.gov/1OQLqVn. We recommend that you use a laptop or desktop computer rather than a smartphone or tablet to sign up.

Jofad said...

@WSDOT I think you completely missed the point of Eldwoods comment. Prior to the opening of the ETL lanes I405 had traffic issues for a few hours on weekday evenings and mornings. Since the ETL opening 405 has been unbearable any time of day, including weekends.

Just telling us to buy a ticket to get the same travel times as before the toll is deplorable.

The real problem that you refuse to even acknowledge is that congestion has become a problem all day long instead of just on peak hours.

Elwood Blues said...

@Jofad, My issue is that now there are now traffic jams in the middle of the day on WEEKENDS, and because their website and phone lines don't actually work, there is no way to get a pass, so they have effectively shut down 30% of the freeway capacity. Even checking the cameras just now (8.10am) the toll lanes are empty. Empty lanes that people can't use (but paid for) when they are just trying to get to work to feed their kids.
We keep getting the same old spiel, 'more lanes don't add capacity', and yet they build more lanes and things get much better (522 to 527 North bound), but when they shut a lane (the toll lanes like now), things get MUCH worse. By that logic if they reduce the 405 to one lane it will have infinite capacity and zero commute times. And it will. Because people won't use it. Just like the toll lanes aren't being used today. And every other day.

Cu Bong said...

Before the ETLs open:
- the stretch from SB , between SR-522 to 70th was a mess and nightmare
after the ETLs open:
-- the above stretch is now wide OPEN. great jobs WSDOT, cost of project 155M is worth to spend

HOWEVER: after ETLs opened:
- weekend is getting more traffic
- traffic jams were less likely happened now is a NIGHTMARE for those sections such as I-405 ram from 520 , SB after 70th and stretch from 527-522....these area after ETLs opened are now very heavy traffic during peak hours, why
-- Bothell Everett hwy, SR-527 getting worse early in the morning and nasty after 4:00PM because drivers avoid ETLs, school bus get stuck , pick up time delay due to traffic,
-- WE are SUFFURING the ways WSDOT designed exit/entry points that created more traffic, they replied ,,,,we are mornitoring and will changed it if it's appropriate , well, why they need a rocket falling to solve this mess, just need to re-design the weave lanes, wisely drawing double whiteline, and weave..
-- for example : WSDOT, think hard please ? the exit/entry point from SB at SR520 . why did you make the weave taking too much spaces, and let drivers squeeze in GPLs , more than 1/2 drivers take off ETLs to merge in SR520 , and tend to be cut off those crowded drivers from GPLs, that is why pushing people back another miles because this area is now lanes are so narrow, exit lane only to SR520 is now shorter. after the weave is ended, freeway are wide open,
--WSDOT, please spend sometime , drive through the GPLs , drive back and forth during peak hours and feeling how we are suffering
--I am using flex pass, but sometime use less , why I have to pay 1$25 when I can only travel over 2 miles from Sr522 to Sr520. because get in ETLs after 160th and exit just 2 miles after that, and stuck in traffic anyway

--because the ways WSDOT designed weave lanes, sorry everyone, WSDOT keeps saying, we need to wait 6 month to years, for people get used to it ... I am old but I just needed 2 days get used to it..
--we are suffering 3 years before this project get done, and now keep suffering because faulty designed the exit/entry point/ weaves , and waiting another 6months to years for you to MONITORING AND not sure will fix it.
-- 155 Millions dollars spent on this 405 , Please make it works at it should be and worth for that amount of money.
-- is there any ways to check the work in processes that wsdot is now committing " monitoring, fixing if needed"
-- please remember we don't elect you but we pay you to do the jobs wisely
thanks

Elwood Blues said...

An update: On the 19th I started trying to get my pass. But the website doesn't work, and I couldn't get through on the phone, so I emailed. A week later I get an email reply saying that they are very busy, and will get back to me one day very soon.
Meanwhile, I will be in Bellevue this weekend, and have to travel to Mill Creek both Sat and Sun. I guess I will just leave an hour early and take a book so I have something to read on the way. An hour there, and an hour back each day sounds about right. It's 20 miles, so 20mph would be about right. I need to be there for an hour starting at 10.30am, so if I leave Bellevue at 9.15 I should be back by about 1.00pm.
To get there from the Kenmore area on Friday night I plan to rat-run it through Juanita and avoid the 405 entirely. It's a long, slow drive, but at least I won't be sitting in traffic.

Elwood Blues said...

Hey, I received a reply 10 days later. 2 actually. Even though I only sent one email.
"The account application process is timed out after 15 minutes of inactivity in order to protect customer’s personal information, or it may also encounter a server error. When an account is timed out due to inactivity or due to an error, it is necessary for the customer to call the Customer Service Center at 1-866-936-8246 or visit one of our Walk In Center locations to complete the account application process. Unfortunately, the account application process cannot be completed over e-mail or online." Why wasn't this an automatic reply?
Anyway, I work, and I don't live close to Gig Harbor, Seattle, or Bellevue, and I have tried the sitting on hold thing for half an hour while I was supposed to be working. My boss loved that.

So for me, the system is a total failure. Nice work guys. Keep it up.Oh! Just for giggles I checked the traffic cams. 8.25am and the Toll Lanes are empty. I think I know why.

WSDOT said...

Cu Bong – Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us and we’re sorry you’re experiencing frustration with the I-405 express toll lanes. We would like to assure you that we are actively monitoring the new system and are prepared to make adjustments. Because traffic is still adjusting to the new configuration we need to wait to parse out what areas truly need to be addressed. Additionally, we are watching local streets to get a good picture of the impacts express toll lanes on local streets. As of now, we are working closely with cities and jurisdictions to monitor traffic on their roadways and do not have any conclusive data. We hope to have travel times on some major arterials by the end of the November.

Since the weave lanes are new, it may be difficult to see their benefits. We’re happy to provide an explanation. While the merge lanes do take up space, drivers still have the same amount of lanes to pass through the corridor. You may see drivers slowing down to enter or exit the express toll lanes. Weave lanes are designed to allow drivers enough time to safely adjust to the speed of the lanes they’re entering and find a window to safely merge. These lanes function very similarly to long highway on-ramps that allow drivers time to gauge and calculate a safe merge. In fact, designated areas to merge actually decrease congestion that would be caused by drivers quickly hopping in and out of the lanes.
Our project engineers used traffic data and analysis to design safe and efficient access points for the new I-405 express toll lanes. Between 520 and NE 70th Street, we expect that drivers heading northbound will move into the express toll lanes and drivers heading southbound will move out of the express toll lanes. Because of that, we installed a weave lane in this area to help higher volumes of traffic adjust their speeds to allow safe and efficient exits. What you see as a bottleneck actually ensures safety as drivers exit the express toll lanes.

You also mentioned that you experienced driving less than 45 mph in the express toll lanes. We’re sorry to hear that happened. Unfortunately, slower speeds will happen occasionally in the event of a lane-blocking collision or any other unforeseen incident. Our goal is to keep traffic moving at 45 miles per hour 90 percent of the time. Thank you again for writing to us. Feedback like yours plays a key role in the future of I-405, and we will take it into consideration as we examine any changes needed to the system.

WSDOT said...

Elwood, our phone lines are open on Saturdays, too. We would recommend calling on a Saturday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Please do expect wait times, however.