In 2009, we started working with Sound Transit, King County Metro, and Community Transit on the details of the I-405 eastside express toll lanes. The transit agencies developed 14 recommendations to improve their operations in this corridor. The improvements included shoulder transit lanes at ramps and along segments of I-405. Their recommended improvements were submitted in fall 2009 to a group of east side mayors, county leadership and transit executives formed to advise WSDOT on eastside express toll lanes.
Safety is everyone’s top priority. Shoulders on I-405 southbound from SR 527 to NE 195th Street and SR 522 to NE 160th Street were widened by 3 feet to a total of 13 feet to accommodate our transit agencies’ buses. Buses using the shoulder will travel at 35 mph during the weekday morning commute between 6:00 am and 9:00 am and only when the regular traffic is running substantially slower than normal. The buses will flash their hazard lights when driving on the shoulder to alert other drivers. If there is a vehicle blocking the shoulder, they will move into the regular lanes.
Community Transit has been training their drivers and they are now prepared to use the bus shoulder lanes. This special access has been long in the planning will improve transit trips that start in several north end locations. The shoulder lanes will reduce the weave for buses which, before express tolling started, had to merge across all of the regular lanes to access the HOV lanes and then merge back to get to local park and rides in Bothell. This change helps drivers in all lanes by reducing congestion from merging buses.
Travel in the shoulder is for public transportation agency buses only and is allowed under several state provisions of law (RCW 46.61.165, 46.61.428 and 47.52.025.)
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