Thursday, November 19, 2015

#405ETL: Thank you for your feedback. We’re listening.

By Emily Pace

Since the express toll lanes opened, we’ve heard a lot of feedback from drivers about access and entrances, and we want you to know we’re listening and taking your feedback seriously. While certain changes can happen relatively quickly, others may take longer.

The first week of express toll lanes, we made changes to striping at the southbound access at NE 160th Street to give drivers more space to merge. We also noticed traffic was backing up on the direct access ramps to NE 128th Street from the express toll lane so we worked with our signals crew to change the signal timing.

Here are some other changes we’re looking at to help make your driving experience better.

Addressing demand in the southbound I-405 express toll lane in the AM
Drivers are telling us that a faster, more reliable trip is important to them and since opening we’ve seen more drivers using the express toll lanes. In some cases, there is greater demand than there is capacity in the lane.

This is true in the single express toll lane on southbound I-405 between SR 527 and NE 195th Street where we’ve seen speeds decrease in the last two weeks as more drivers are using the express toll lane. We’ve heard frustrations from drivers and after closely monitoring the situation, this week we started making changes to the toll rate algorithm to help manage traffic better.

Our engineers found the toll rate algorithm wasn’t responding quickly enough as traffic volumes increased in the morning commute. So this week, traffic engineers made some changes that caused the toll rates to increase a bit earlier in the morning. This showed some positive results. Traffic in the express toll lane moved faster and the maximum toll rates were the same or lower than before the change.

It’s still early and we are continuing to make additional adjustments to improve performance in this part of the system. When we launched SR 167 HOT lanes in 2008, we made several adjustments to the toll rate algorithm in the first few months of operation. Last year, we made additional adjustments to bring the toll rate down quicker to be more responsive to traffic after peak periods. Ultimately, our goal is the same with any changes we make which is to get people to their destination as quickly and safely as possible.

It’s important to remember, our goal is keep traffic moving at 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time during peak periods. There will be times when speeds drop below 45 mph due to heavy demand or other reasons that we can’t control (collisions, heavy rain or inclement weather or even perhaps deer running down the lane).

Adjustments in striping
We also will be making some changes to express toll lane striping at the following locations to assist in improved access and reduce driver confusion. This work is weather dependent and we will work with our contractor to complete the work over the next few months.
  • Entrance of express toll lanes northbound I-405 at NE 6th Street in Bellevue:
    • Even with signage in the corridor, we’re hearing some drivers still aren’t realizing they’re entering an express toll lane, so we’re going to add additional Express Toll Lane stenciling to the pavement before and at the beginning of the lane.
    • We’ll also extend the access point at that location to allow folks more time to decide if they want to be in the express toll lane or not.
  • End of express toll lanes northbound I-405 approaching I-5 in Lynnwood:
    • Drivers need more room to merge to I-5 from the express toll lanes, so we’re going to pull back the double white striping about 400 feet to give them some space.
  • End of express toll lanes southbound I-405 at NE 6th Street in Bellevue:
    • If you’re in the left-hand express toll lane traveling southbound I-405 approaching NE 6th Street, you need to merge to the right lane to continue south on I-405. We’re going to add an Exit Only pavement marking to help alert drivers.
As we look at these improvements, we’re also seeing lower use of the direct access ramps. We want to give a friendly reminder that these ramps are open to all drivers in the express toll lanes. Previously only HOV drivers could use the direct access ramps at NE 6th Street in Bellevue (to and from the north only!) and NE 128th Street in Kirkland. Now you can use them, whether or not you’re carpooling.

Continuing to monitor other access points
We’ll continue to monitor access points to identify challenging areas. For example, we are keeping a close eye on northbound near SR 520 and NE 195th Street and southbound near SR 527 and south of NE 195th Street up to NE 160th Street.  We’ve received a lot of comments on these blogs and social media and we’re using them as we look at adjustments.

Why are we waiting before making additional access point changes? We considered many factors when locating and designing the access points, including making sure there is adequate room to safely weave between the access point and interchange ramps and that the access point is long enough for safe movement in and out of the express toll lanes. We need to make changes incrementally to ensure we understand the effect of individual changes. If we make too many changes at once and one change didn’t work, it would be hard to determine which change created the challenge and therefore how to fix it.

We need to keep these factors in mind when we consider what adjustments we can make to the access points. In the meantime, we’re taking all of the feedback we hear into consideration and continuing to look for potential solutions.

160 comments:

helena lykken said...

Why can't WSDOT do what is right and turn the toll lane back into a general purpose lane. Haven't you done enough damage? Everyone now knows that these lanes are the biggest mistake in transportation history. NO ONE WANTS THESE EXTORTION LANES!!!

Quitcomplainingabouteverything said...

Ummm "NO ONE WANTS THESE EXTORTION LANES!!!" I beg to differ, I will gladly pay a few dollars a day to cut my commute time by 15 minutes each way. Driving Everett to Renton and back each day, I will gladly take any reduction in drive time...But thanks for trying to speak for everyone Helena.

Quitcomplainingabouteverything said...

My one suggestion though to reduce the number of collisions in the ETLs would be to line the double white lane in reflective yellow instead of white. Double yellow is consistant with no passing which hopefully will reduce the number of people who think its a good idea to go from a literal stop in the general use lanes and cut across the double white lanes in front of vehicles travelling 60+ mph.

Helena said...

Looks like another consultant for WSDOT lol

Jeff Gray said...

"Our engineers found the toll rate algorithm wasn’t responding quickly enough as traffic volumes increased in the morning commute. So this week, traffic engineers made some changes that caused the toll rates to increase a bit earlier in the morning. This showed some positive results." Translation: We are vigorously working to price people OUT of the toll lanes to artificially increase average speeds in a desperate attempt to not have this system removed, as the law states it should be if it falls below 45MPH average.

And this is not 'us and them' class warfare how???

WSDOT said...

@Quitcomplaining, you're not the only one. Thanks for sharing your positive experience!

Paul Hale said...

It sure is fixed -- Now this mornings SB commute toll at 8AM was $6.00 -- Yikes

WSDOT said...

Helena, general purpose lanes aren’t the answer. Even if WSDOT decided to implement more general purpose lanes, they would quickly fill up with vehicles again and we would be right back to where we started.

Helena said...

This is another lie and more propaganda from WSDOT. We would all be better off if the toll lane was turned back into a general purpose lane. The new configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 toll lane. The original 2001 master plan had 2 general purpose lanes to be added to the corridor. I405 from Renton to Bellevue for example is in dire need of general purpose lanes, same with I405 from hwy 522 to I5. Everyone with any common sense would agree. WSDOT needs to stop with there lies to defend the biggest mistake in transportation history.

WSDOT said...

Jeff, that is part of how express toll lanes work - the prices need to increase when there are more vehicles in the ETLs to discourage even more drivers from entering them, to keep traffic moving. Still, people of all income levels decide on any particular day that the time value is worth the toll price.

WSDOT said...

Paul, "fixed" does not mean lower toll rates. See the response to Jeff above.

Jeff Gray said...

W$DOT, driving people out of the Extortion Toll Lanes by pricing them out, thereby grinding the GP lanes to a halt is not 'keeping traffic moving'. But please, keep up with the lies and propaganda. We WILL see this system removed and we WILL see those responsible fired. Frankly, your arrogance is staggering.

Quitcomplainingabouteverything said...

Helena,

Far from a consultant. I am an average Joe that at this time deals with a 70 mile daily commute. As such, the ETL option allows me to get to work and home without driving 2 hours each way during peak time. The fact that I don't mind paying for a convenience (shocking that paying for a convenience is new??) does not make me a consultant, makes me not hate my daily commute. I apologize that you and apparently EVERYONE else feels that they are cheated, but you too have the option...at least you have the option. If the system is ever removed, then guess what, people will STILL complain about traffic.....

todayrocks said...

I'd like to see better signage/enforcement to prevent drivers from crossing the double while lines. Twice in the past month have I witnessed drivers carelessly merging (from an average speed of 35mph on regular lanes) onto the express lanes (where vehicles are traveling at 60mph) and coming really close to causing an accident.

Lets Do it Right said...

Perfect translation.

Lets Do it Right said...

Thanks for speaking up.

Just an engineer, trying to save the world said...

Even with WSP enforcement, I still see too many people crossing the double white. It is eventually go to end up causing a fatal accident that could have been prevented. Is wsdot considering using plastic poles or barriers to separate the toll lanes from the GP lanes?

Peter said...

@WSDOT

I have to agree with Helena here and you never answered my questions properly in past comments. You just keep saying that adding normal lanes does not work with no actual numbers, math, data, and real world tests. Your arguments make no sense. Show us the real numbers and stop responding like a broken record.

So please explain how this works. Say you have 100 cars in 4 lanes, so 25 / lane moving at x speed. Adding a toll lane will move some small percentage to the toll lane. But adding a regular lane will reduce the density to 20 cars / lane, a significant decrease in density which does improve commute times for everyone. Show us the density to speed ratios in your real world longitudinal tests as applied to the various lane type / usage models you built.

Why not have 1 toll lane at a high price so you can get your federal money, and give the 2nd current toll lane to the regular folks. Why not 5 toll lanes? If this is a tactic to make it so miserable on regular commuters that they move away just admit it. I think this is just about the money and some failed notion that the only way to curb traffic is forcing commuters into buses. Most of us have kids and can't afford the huge increased end to end time public transportation takes. That is reality. Tax payers pay you for real solutions, not political correctness.
Please start listening and stop only hearing and noting what you want to hear.

Peter

Jason Worthen said...

Jeff Gary the ones responsible for pushing this system on to us. Is our elected state rep's. And the real catch on this one. The rep's that presented and push it. Are all state rep's that are from areas that are not even close to the ares they represent. Like Yakima.I mean think about it if your state rep for your area was dumb enough to bring this idea up and push for it. They wouldn't get re-elected. which means they wouldn't have a salary next term. But what we can do is just always choose a new rep at each time we vote. Doesn't matter if its the wrong side with your believes. If this happens on a large scale 2 or 3 terms. It would start to get in reps that would really do what the voters wanted. Because that idea would cause huge havok in the state and many things wouldn't get done. The rep's would learn they would need to do what the voters wanted.

I use the lanes during the week. And it helps me get home faster. But I only use 2/3rd's of the lane. I think its a ripoff system. and I think its even more ripped off for the people using it from Bothel to Lynnwood. cause its only 1 lane. Also the rates are insane when you get to that point. They need to just remove that part or make another lane for them.

WSDOT said...

Washington State Patrol is has been monitoring and stopping drivers often to educate them on the rules of the road. Enforcement is up to state troopers, but we can work on the signage part. Thanks for the input.

drivefree said...

This is an example of someone's bad ideology for transportation, it is a big and expensive mistake as the philosophy of you can't build your way out of it. So you build your way into it. I live near Canyon Park, I now take the local roads more, which are worse during rush hours than before. I know that they won't admit how stupid their thinking is, and they want to modify your behavior. One of the reasons I rarely go to Seattle is transportation is a mess and alternatives are inadequate in capacities and hours of operation, but I am saving money by not going there, I hope the businesses understand. This eastside mess needs to end, and why the DOT can't acquire all revenue without an out-of-state collector should also show incompetence. There is no mass transit being built that will solve this, certainly with the people now in charge. It will only continue. Look overseas to Japan, China, Europe, and some eastern cities. Learn from that. Small provincial thinking will never move us to the future, neither will regressive fees and taxation. We need new leadership for any real progress, not fantasy rhetoric.

drivefree said...

The only thing that will change this is new independent leadership. There is an ideology at work not objectivity. End this now, and spend our money on solutions. I am now taking the more congested local roads to get to Kirkland from Canyon Park. I am within a half-mile of 405 start to finish, thanks a lot. I am not voting for anyone that endorsed this or some peoples idea of tolling all driving, yes it's true. They are out of touch, for most of my needs and business a motorized vehicle is necessary. Other parts of the world have systems that work, not fantasies as here, includes Seattle. What waste of billions over the last decades. I'll wave to Bertha on the way by.

WSDOT said...

Engineer – Thanks for trying. It's up to WSP to patrol the double white lines and help to educate drivers on the implications of their actions. Hopefully, as drivers learn more about how to use express toll lanes we will see less people crossing the double white lines. At this time, WSDOT has no plans to put in physical barriers along the lanes.

Helena said...

WSDOT needs to admit to the public that the extortion toll lanes were a huge mistake. They need to pull the plug and suspend the toll lane ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. If they don't, then the power of the people will. I am throwing my support behind representative Harmsworth along with Tim Eyman to do away with this disaster and experiment once and for all.

Michael said...

Why did WSDOT repeat the same mistake from 167 that it spent $500,000 fixing?

“We’ve listened to drivers and we’re making it easier for them to access the HOT lanes,” said Project Engineer Jennifer Charlebois. “If you see a single white line you can cross it.”

http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2014/07/here-it-comes-better-access-for-sr-167.html
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/SR167HotLanes/access.htm
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/News/2014/08/8_167GoodbyeDoubleWhiteLine.htm
http://www.kentreporter.com/news/260964241.html#
Washington State Transportation Center Study (TRAC):
http://depts.washington.edu/trac/bulkdisk/pdf/766.1.pdf

Skysewblue said...

"Our engineers found the toll rate algorithm wasn’t responding quickly enough as traffic volumes increased in the morning commute. So this week, traffic engineers made some changes that caused the toll rates to increase a bit earlier in the morning."
We are on 405 south bound from I-5 at 5:45 in the morning, the past week there has been little to no back up, yet the toll has been $3-$4. This seems a little high. Are the traffic engineers going to revisit the artificial rate increase and bring it more in line with the flow of traffic?

Tehmosp said...

Is it possible to post the current toll price on a website so before I leave my house or my office I can check if I could afford the HOT lanes?

WSDOT said...

Tehmosp – We are discussing the feasibility of that option right now as we have heard many requests for that information to be displayed. Stay tuned for more updates and thanks for your feedback!

Jon Hunter said...

#405ETL Why am I paying $2 for 405 tolls from 522 to NE 6th when the average speed to destination is 70 MPH? If all your literature is correct, the toll would increase when the speeds drop below 60MPH in the TOLL lanes only.

For the last two days, I have paid $2 for going 70MPH... which is a direct contradiction to what you have posted and stated all along.

I'd like a refund of $2.50 on my pass, please.

Jeff Gray said...

Another epic failure this morning, W$DOT. 70 minutes from Lynnwood to Kirkland. Oh and the toll was EIGHT DOLLARS. Are you kidding me? You need to realize how much you negatively impacted the quality of life of THOUSANDS of people along the 405 corridor. Are you proud that you are now, hands down, the most universally despised government entity in the history of the state?

The only 'success' of this boondoggle has been the fact that 'keep right except to pass' has been overtaken by 'illegal to cross the double white lines' as the most ignored law on the books. Congratulations!

WoodinvilleCommuter said...

I agree with Jon Hunter, the last couple of days the tolls have really shot up between 522 and NE 6th for no apparent reason I can see. In the past few weeks those higher toll days had a significant accident or very heavy traffic, but recently the higher toll doesn't seem to be tied to any logic, it's higher even when the gp lanes are flowing freely.

WSDOT said...

@WoodenvilleCommuter, toll rates are dependent upon traffic in the express toll lanes, not general purpose lanes. In cases where there is greater demand than there is capacity in the ETLs, toll rates will adjust in order to make traffic move more efficiently.

Jon Hunter said...

WSDOT - That makes no sense as to why we have seen a toll increase. I am going 70 MPH in the ETL lanes... and a few days it was .75 cents and now it is $2.

Helena said...

After WSDOT finally admits that the extortion toll lanes are the biggest mistake in transportation history and they switch the toll lane back into a general purpose lane. WSDOT needs to add 2 general purpose lanes to I405 from HWY 522 to I5. They also need to add 2 general lanes as promised to I405 from Renton to Bellevue which is the worst stretch of freeway in the state. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. This would solve a majority of the east side transportation issues. 10 times better than the worthless toll lanes which are designed to create congestion in the general purpose lanes.

WoodinvilleCommuter said...

@WSDOT majority of people I have spoken to are supporters of the toll lanes. A few wrinkles I think to iron out as far as exact placement and length of the access points but overall a positive development. The person posting negative comments here repeatedly speaks for only one individual.

WSDOT said...

Michael – You are correct that we have removed most of the double white lines for the SR 167 HOT lanes pilot project to test continuous access. WSDOT received a federal grant to test continuous access and is partnering with the University of Washington to evaluate the effects of removing the access restrictions on a number of areas, including safety, revenue, reliability and speed, customer attitudes, transit operations and lane system performance. Restricted access is most common for express toll lane facilities nationwide and it is too early to determine the implications of this pilot project for I-405 express toll lanes. That said, we are continuing to monitor access points to identify challenging areas, and as the blog above states, are implementing them slowly to ensure we understand the full effect of those changes.

Mountain Hound said...

Why does it cost the same for me to go one exit on 405 from I5 to SR-527 Canyon Park as it does for someone going all the way to Bellevue. This hardly seems fair given the mileage comparison in the actual toll lanes is about 1 mile to 17 miles. Why are the rates not adjusted based off of distance used?

The I5 to SR-527stretch of 405 has turned into a nightmare since the toll lanes opened. I gladly use the toll lanes when they are a reasonable rate and if people actually let you over to exit, but paying $8 one way to travel one exit and hold up the rest of the toll lanes while you wait to merge for the exit is not practical. With that said, I love the toll lanes when I have to travel to Bellevue.

BewareOfGators said...

There is only one use case where conditions have improved. That is for solo drivers willing to pay the toll. All other use cases are negatively impacted. For an indepth, detailed analysis of the issues with the 405 Express Toll Lanes, visit http://stop405tolls.org
And while you're there, sign the petition so your voice is heard by our legislators. Also be sure to share the link with others.

Vince R said...

There are a few issues I have with the 'good-to-go' lanes. They have not been addressed:

1. They are not truly equal access.

Assume that a commuter is paying $5 each time they use the lane in the morning and night. $10 (a day) * 5 (days a week) * 50 (working weeks a year) = $2500.

Now for some people, this will not seem expensive. If you're making over $100k a year, this amount to about 3% of your take home pay.

If you are making $30k, this amounts to 10% of your income.

The catch is that a person making 100k has more disposable income and can afford to spend 3% on express travel. A person making 30k is almost at poverty level and has almost no disposable income. That means that the person making less money has no choice but to sit in the congestion.

RICH PEOPLE LANES favor those with money at the cost of those without.

The very nature of increasing the price to 'discourage' people from using it drives home the fact that some of us just cannot afford the luxury of traveling in these tax-payer created lanes.

This is a huge issue and will eventually bite those that support this approach to 'traffic management'. Remember, '1%' means that there are 99% that can vote as well.

2. This 'Good-to-go' program does not address congestion.

Call it what you will, it has created congestion more than it has fixed it. Yes, you will find the occasional, better off person that will praise this approach. For most people it has made their quality of life worse.

Congestion can be addressed if you look at the sum average of ALL commuters travel time, not just a few that can afford to take the 'rich-people-lanes'. Congestion is caused by many factors, like weather, accidents, volume and road design.

Those of us that have to drive the roads during the worst commute times can tell you where the bottlenecks are that significantly contribute to traffic congestion. I can't speak for others, but I am personally insulted each time 'good-to-go' is said to address congestion. It doesn't.

Vince R said...



Fixes to congestion address things like:

* making sure there are shoulders on all sections of the road so vehicles in accidents can be moved off out of the traffic lanes as soon as possible

* removing weaving patterns, instead of making new ones like those added with the 'good-to-go' entrance/exit spots. (You should see the psychopathic-privileged rudely cutting off drivers as they enter / exit the rich-people-lanes.)

* adding adequate exit buffers to high traffic exits so the traffic doesn't back up for miles

* working with cities/counties as a unit to address arteries into and out of the highways. Yes you are separate entities, but they need to be working together. It doesn't make sense to have great highways if the exits to them are causing mile long backups. In addition, your 'good-to-go' programs have increase the burden on these other infrastructures and they are going to need a lot more work now.

* creating programs that naturally work and do not require 're-education of the masses'.

* an effective mass transit system that is one of the highest costs to ride and highest cost to operate in the nation.

* encouraging businesses to use work-at-home and distributed offices. This region has a large population of high-tech workers. These jobs are ideal candidates for distributed working staff.

* encourage businesses to not all build in one area.

* work to modify construction codes so that we don't over-constrain our future needs. For example, the Seattle Convention Center being built over a major highway... I am sure someone thought that was a great idea, but we haven't learned from that. We still allow building codes that impact daily commuters. For example, the Amazon building along Mercer street have underground parking that exits on to Mercer street. Everyday at rush hour, there are 'traffic officers' that stop traffic to allow cars to exit the garages. The impact of this design is that, instead of exiting onto a side street where the side street could act as a buffer, we are backing of one of the main arterial roads in Seattle to allow people to exit a parking garage. Every work day, this causes major traffic congestion in Seattle and it was entirely avoidable.

* realize that the average driver doesn't see a line on the ground where a point of responsibility changes. To a driver, the entire time spent driving is their commute time. All of it. When you make a change on a highway that impacts surface streets, and commute times for those not on the highway, you have impacted people that you are not even concerned about. Its one big system to a commuter. Consider the bigger picture when you make a change. 'It's not my problem' is not the right answer.

'Good-to-go' might have made the lives of some people better. For the other 99%, it has made it worse.

Please, with action and urgency, fix the mess that 'good-to-go' has created. We don't need 'rich people lanes', we need real congestion solutions for all commuters... the other 99%.

Vince R said...

I have signed the petition at Stop 405 Tolls.

Maybe if enough people let their representative know this approach isn't working, it will get fixed.

Helena said...

Everyone needs to keep calling there representatives and tell them to support representative Harmsworth. These toll lanes have been the biggest mistake in transportation history. WSDOT needs to suspend the toll lanes immediately before the angry tax paying public does it first. These tolls have made traffic much much worse and everyone knows it. The new improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane.

Kirkland said...

I had thought I was hearing about and experiencing backups from more accidents on 405 in the last 6 weeks. Sadly, the WSDOT graphs posted on this blog seem to bear this out. Some of these were explicitly identified as blocking one or more of the toll lanes and/or the left-most general lane. This would seem to indicate an increase in accidents at the toll-lane/general-lane border. I do not think we can afford to wait up to a year so "drivers learn more about how to use express toll lanes". The backup from the ETL-merge-mess accident north of Kirkland a few days before Thanksgiving added more than 45 minutes to the Bellevue-to-522 section.

One sort-of compliment: the signs indicating when exits from the ETLs are coming up are waaaaaay better than the originals on the 167 HOT lanes. But wait, those lanes didn't work very well, so now WSDOT has a "grant to test continuous access".

@Vince R, you hit the nail squarely on the head with your comment:
"realize that the average driver doesn't see a line on the ground where a point of responsibility changes. To a driver, the entire time spent driving is their commute time. All of it. When you make a change on a highway that impacts surface streets, and commute times for those not on the highway, you have impacted people that you are not even concerned about. Its one big system to a commuter. Consider the bigger picture when you make a change. 'It's not my problem' is not the right answer."

I find myself taking the [now more congested] city streets as a better alternative to the [now more congested general lanes of] 405.

WSDOT said...

@WoodinvilleCommuter, we appreciate your positive feedback! WSDOT’s project team is working hard to address the areas along the corridor that could be improved, including the access points.

WSDOT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WSDOT said...

Hi again, Vince. When the Legislature authorized express toll lanes on I-405 in 2011 (EHB 1382), they did so with a few caveats. Boiling it down without a lot of legislative speak, the ETLs need to operate at 45 miles per hour 90 percent of the time and we need to cover operating costs after two years. Ultimately, it will be up to the Legislature to determine the future of express toll lanes and how they continue to operate. However, we do appreciate you sharing your feedback with us.

We understand that there are many factors that contribute to congestion along the corridor. Beyond the cost to build and expand the highway, new improvements are necessary to support growth and reduce congestion. Express toll lanes are a sustainable solution to maintain reliability on the roadway over time - especially for carpools, vanpools, transit and motorcyclists who can use the lanes toll-exempt. Any revenue generated beyond operating costs will go in a dedicated account for I-405 and will be reinvested back into the corridor.

Jeff Gray said...

Also as part of EHB 1382, W$DOT is required to monitor and report on whether average traffic speed has changed in the general purpose (AKA, 'poor people') lanes and whether travel times and volumes have increased or decreased on adjacent side streets. While not meeting either of these criteria is not a trigger for removing the system, it does go a long way in explaining the flat out lies that are repeated ad nauseam on this site. As anyone who has driven either on 405 or the surrounding side streets can tell you, both of those items are failing on a scale that exceeds belief.

Vince R said...

FROM EHB 1382: "It is the intent of the legislature to improve mobility for people and goods by maximizing the effectiveness of the freeway system."

My opinion: I do not believe that 'for people' in this legislation implied 'who can afford to spend an additional $2,500, or more, per year. I do believe that the intent was to improve the effectiveness for all the people.

FROM EHB 1382: "The department shall work with local jurisdictions to monitor impacts to local streets and, after consultation with local jurisdictions, recommend mitigation measures to the legislature in those locations where it is appropriate."

Question: Based on all of the feedback on how the program has impacted local streets, and as you are required by law to address, how will you be working to fix the problems that 'Good-to-Go' has created in terms of increased accidents, significantly longer commute times, even for people not using the 405 freeway?

FROM EHB 1382: "An express toll lane system operating in the Interstate 405 and state route number 167 corridor by 2014."

FACT: This requirement was not met. The program on I-405 was not operational until 2015.

FACT: From section (a), page 7, http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2011-12/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/1382.pdf, the funds may be used for non-transportation related expenses, such as: "The aeronautics account, the aircraft search and rescue account, the budget stabilization account, the capitol building construction account, the Cedar River channel construction and operation account, the Central Washington University capital projects account, the charitable, educational, penal and reformatory institutions account, the cleanup settlement account, the Columbia river basin water supply development account," ...


For those that plan on using their voting powers to address this mess, look here and see the people that passed this:

http://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1382&year=2011

Review those in the House and the Senate who voted this into law. Let them know that it isn't working.

Vince R said...

I just reread the passed legislation. No where in the legislation does it say the operation of the tolling can be outsourced. In fact, the exact wording is:

"The department may construct and operate express toll lanes on Interstate 405 between the city of Bellevue on the south end and Interstate 5 on the north end."

(bold added for emphasis and is not in the legislation)


Jeff Gray said...

On top of my 70+ minute commute yesterday from Edmonds to Kirkland in the AM, imagine my delight when encountering the ever increasing backup on the ramp from 520E to 405N. At 3:30 PM yesterday it was backed up all the way on to 520 itself leaving myself and others literally parked in the GP lanes of 520. The number of near misses I witnessed due to approaching traffic not expecting this oddly placed parking lot was staggering. Granted, as it now takes me 20 minutes just to navigate the ramp I had plenty of time to watch. Yet another shining example of the utter failure of W$DOT and the Extortion Toll Lanes.

Helena said...

Craig Stone at WSDOT should step down and any representative that voted for the extortion toll lanes should be voted out. Judy Clibborn also needs to go as she is a big supporter of the lanes. Everyone needs to call there representative and tell them to support representative Harmsworth. The tide is turning and will of the people will end the biggest mistake in transportation history!!!

WSDOT said...

Vince, we've been in contact with local jurisdictions to monitor traffic levels on surface streets, as well as accidents and commute times. We regularly update our blog with traffic data that we are observing along the corridor. Accidents can be chalked up to a number of causes, but it's not fair to say a rise in accidents is directly related to the express toll lanes. We will continue to post data as we work through this adjustment period.

WSDOT said...

@drivefree – Success stories of express toll lane systems that address congested urban highways can be seen across the nation. For example, on Interstate 95 in Miami, the travel speeds tripled once the express toll lane was added next to the HOV lane, and the speeds in the adjacent general purpose lanes doubled as the entire highway operated more efficiently.

We have also noticed shifts in congestion points. That's why our project team is actively monitoring surface streets and access points to determine where adjustments can and should be made. We've recently had to adjust the toll algorithm to accommodate high demand in the express toll lanes southbound between SR 527 and NE 195th Street. Since that change, traffic in the express toll lane moved faster and the maximum toll rates were the same or lower than before.

Ultimately, if the express toll lanes are not meeting the standards set by the Legislature, it will be up to lawmakers to decide the fate of the system. Thank you for your feedback as we work through this adjustment period.

WSDOT said...

@Skysewblue, we plan to continually monitor the express toll lane capacity in that stretch to identify more reliable patterns and look for ways to improve. That includes evaluating potential adjustments to the system that could influence the volume in the ETL lanes and improve speed and performance. We will update drivers if and when any changes are made.

WSDOT said...

Jon – This recent ramp up in toll paying trips has occurred much faster than anticipated. While it may appear that a higher toll rate indicates better time savings in ETLs, it actually means that the ETL is getting full. And in some cases, there is greater demand than there is capacity in the lane. We will continue to monitor the performance of the ETLs and evaluate potential adjustments where needed.

Jeff Gray said...

Using I 95 in Miami as a success story?? That is laughable. Apparently W$DOT isn't aware that 95 is, or is the process of being expanded to, 6 lanes wide and they STILL have only had two months of maintaining 45 MPH in the toll lanes and this is AFTER they raised the toll to $1.50 PER MILE. W$DOT just can't wrap their head around the fact that this system is a failure.

Wasting time on the 405 said...

I spent twenty minutes waiting in line to get onto the backed up 405 from 527 tonight. I'd like to say it was because of the weather, but this has been the pattern since the toll lanes opened. The flow light and carpool on-ramp are useless since the backups start way before them. To implement a toll lane on a section of 405 that only has 2 standard lanes is ridiculous. It's clear where the bottle necks are occurring and time is only going to increase the problem. A road expansion in this section is a must if the tolls are to accommodate any of the users needs from the 527 on-ramp. We can't even get to the toll lanes to utilize them as they are intended. The bottleneck opens up after the 527 cars are actually on the 405, so what would be the benefit in using the toll lanes after this point?

Jon Hunter said...

@WSDOT: "This recent ramp up in toll paying trips has occurred much faster than anticipated."

Did you read that I drove 10 MPH over the speed limit the entire way? Has WSDOT unilaterally changed the rules without publishing new rules? All literature I have read has stated that the toll charge will be based SOLELY on the speed in the ETL lanes. If the speed of the ETL Lanes exceed 60 MPH, why would you want to increase the cost of driving in those lanes?

I am still requesting my $2.50 back.

Jon Hunter said...

@WSDOT: In accessing the ETL's at NE 6th this evening, the toll lane cost was $6 to get off at 522, and then another $2.50 to get to Lynnwood.

What our car full of people experienced was 65MPH to Evergreen Hospital. Then it slowed down to 30 MPH for less than 300 yards. The culprit? Bumper to Bumper traffic EXITING the ETL's via the Toll Lane off ramp.

Then, traffic was bumper to bumper from 522 North.

So please explain to me why someone should pay $6 as a Single Occupant driver when the only reason the slow down is occurring is because you can't time your signals to get people OUT of the ETL's at one of the dedicated exits?

I think you engineers are smarter than this, but you continue to prove me wrong day after day after day.

Please respond.

WSDOT said...

Jon Hunter – The toll rate is contingent on traffic volumes in ETLs. It is there to manage demand of the lanes, not to provide a guarantee of performance. As you have noticed, we recently corrected our rate algorithm to more quickly adjust to traffic volumes. The I-405 ETLs provide a choice to drivers that they didn’t have before, so drivers can decide whether the trip is worth a toll.

Jon Hunter said...

@WSDOT: Why would you raise tolls to $2 if the speed of the ETL's exceed 70 MPH the entire trip from 522 to NE 6th?

Paul Grady said...

Is there a place on your website where one can go to view the current toll rates from a specific entry point to a specific exit point? It would help me make the decision of whether to take the back roads or head for the freeway.

Paul Grady said...

Do you have an App? Is there a place on the website where one can go to enter entry and exit points for 405 and view current toll charges? It would be very helpful in determining whether to take the surface roads or head for the highway.

WSDOT said...

Paul – This is a common request. We are working on it and will have more information soon.

WSDOT said...

Wasting time – We have observed shifts in congestion points too, especially around 527, and are looking for opportunities to make improvements to those access points. Luckily we planned ahead with temporary striping. Thanks for sharing your observations with us as they are very helpful in assessing where we need to make adjustments.

Brian Crouch said...

The HOV lanes served their purpose well. They served as an incentive for drivers to coordinate a carpool, with positive economic benefits: more efficient commute times, reducing traffic volumes, and reducing gas waste/emissions. True, HOV lanes could become congested, but usually were enough of an improvement over the GP lanes to make it worth the effort.

The federal guideline which mandates HOV lanes must move at "45mph 90% of the time" is singular reason why the ETL's have been implemented.

So my questions for WSDOT...
Did anyone contend with that federal administrative law? Did any legislators or executives in WA challenge the U.S.DOT: "While 405's HOV lanes move slowly, the alternative is to force more cars in the general purpose lanes, eliminate most of the incentive to do a +1 carpool, which will be worse for the WA economy, commuter quality of life, and our environment. We shouldn't impose such a massive cost to our transportation corridor's users when your 45mph regulation is so arbitrary and myopic." Did anyone fight on our behalf? The toll revenue goes to fund the toll equipment, and is solely for behavior modification. Towards what end? Not to improve our commutes, not to help our environment, not to improve our economy... but to meet a federal bureaucracy's arbitrary number, to check a box, and obtain federal funds. If only someone from our state had been able to persuade the feds that their rule made no sense, all of this confusion and cost could have been avoided.

rice201 said...

Why was 405 picked to start this program? The Everett to Redmond/Bellevue/Renton drive has the fewest non-car options. I understand that you are trying to force more drivers into mass-transit, but this is a rout that has ZERO light-rail plans, few bus options, and fewer alternate rout options.
A better choice would have been the I-5 express lanes. That takes place on a route with just as much congestion, but much more options for travel including light rail.

#Broke405Commuter said...

@WSDOT - So I am now a little confused about this comment you made above - "The toll rate is contingent on traffic volumes in ETLs. It is there to manage demand of the lanes, not to provide a guarantee of performance."

When I have seen the ETL rates > $5 (which was almost everyday last week), traffic is VERY heavy in BOTH the GP lanes AS WELL AS the ETL lanes. So with your logic above, are you are purposefully raising the price of the ETL lanes to DISCOURAGE its use, thereby INCREASING the already high volume in the GP lanes?

On the WSDOT "About Us" page, the first statement is "The Washington State Department of Transportation is the steward of a multimodal transportation system and responsible for ensuring that people and goods move safely and efficiently."

It seems to me that the ETLs are exempt from this statement, and in fact should read ".....that people and goods move safely and efficiently, some of the times, and only for those who are willing and able to afford such a luxury."

#Broke405Commuter

Om Prakash said...

I will like to check the rate before I take a detour to get on the TOLL lane.
An app on phone which will show the rate with caveat that "the rate is at 5:46:45.004 PM. It may changes every milli-second."

Helena said...

These extortion toll lanes have increased congestion for 99.9% and have made our quality of life much much worse. WSDOT should be ashamed of itself for lieing and cheating the public out of much needed general purpose lanes. WSDOT needs to suspend the extortion tolls ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. Everyone needs to keep calling there representatives and tell them we don't want these toll lanes and to support reprentative Harmsworth. "Real lanes for Real People!"

Cu Bong said...

please go to moveon.org and search for stop405toll , and sign a petition from there
please or this link to find out more
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop405tolls/?source=search

Cu Bong said...

WSDOT
if you have a well study , a well prediction , a vision and a smart head, you will never end up with a lots of complaints from drivers today . your project is completely fail because lack of study , lack of prediction,....you just copied an idea from Miami but....failed to execute in the 405 reality .
look at those exit/entry points, and the stretch forms-522 to I-5 both direction as example, what is on the world you would think traffic will better from a 5 lanes to 3 lanes....
WSDOT get pay from our tax money, do your work right, don't tell us to wait 6 months to year to adjust it

Jon Hunter said...

What authority do I complain to when I feel the tolls are incorrect?

I jumped on NE 6th yesterday at 4:45pmish. To get to 522, the toll displayed $3.25.

I then traveled at 62MPH to NE 70th, where the tolls to 522 were now $0.75 cents.

Why were the tolls between NE 6th and NE 70th $3.25, when the speed of the lanes were 62MPH?

Jeff Gray said...

"Luckily we planned ahead with temporary striping."

Hopefully, the plate readers are temporary as well. With the way that the petition is exploding, and driver rage increasing, those will be coming down soon.

Oh, another fun fact: my round trip to work yesterday (Edmonds to Kirkland) totaled THREE HOURS. Another epic fail by W$DOT.

Cu Bong said...

@ Helena
I posted some comment last night but I guess they blocked it.
for those drivers oppose the ETL project , please check it out the petition from moveon.org search for stop405toll...or visit this website http://stop405tolls.org/

WSDOT Toll Division said...

Om Prakash - We're working on a way to share real time toll rates either on a website or app. Stay tuned!

Helena said...

I signed this! Last I checked we were at 13,000+ signatures. Everyone needs to keep calling there representatives as well and tell them to support representative Harmsworth.

Sharon said...

I find the ETL cumbersome and confusing and inefficient. Can't get in or out when it's a good time; can't go around a slow driver in them; they don't open up for some time no matter when I enter I-405 both northbound and southbouund. They make you exit WAY too far in advance for my exit. They are not open to anyone after hours like they used to be. Not a fan! Would like to see them go away. How can WADOT even justify only two general purpose lanes on much of I-405 in the year 2015 with the growth that this area has seen and is seeing. It makes no sense.

Sharon L.

Sharon said...

In regards to the WSDOT's comment:

Helena, general purpose lanes aren’t the answer. Even if WSDOT decided to implement more general purpose lanes, they would quickly fill up with vehicles again and we would be right back to where we started.

What are you basing this comment on? Where has it been determined that more lanes would not improve traffic flow?

I was driving home on I-5 between Olympia and Tacoma thinking about the I-405 mess and how just two lanes, in many areas of it have created so much congestion and, as soon as it opened up another lane the traffic started to flow so much better.

One of the problems I encounter, DAILY, as I drive I405 several times each day, at different times of the day(never at rush hour if I can help it, as it's an extremely inefficient use of my time and energy let alone emissions, gas, etc) is that there is perpetually 3-4 people that sit in the fast lane and barely go the speed limit, then 10-12 cars will be log jammed behind them trying to get around. With two lanes, it's difficult at best. I just came back from Atlanta where their freeways were so much more efficient than ours. Granted, they have a lot more of them than we do, but they have no less than 3 lanes, usually more like 4 every where. We're behind the times. We have too much volume for 2 lanes where we have them, and need to add one more where we have 3, ie. 160th to I90.
Just my opinion.

Wild-Eyed Bibliophile said...

My morning commute now takes longer and is significantly more frustrating. It used to be no problem to get on the freeway where I live. Now the regulating lights are often useless because traffic is completely backed up to the street. We used to have a dedicated lane to merge two on-ramps and give everyone time to get onto the freeway but now it is this giant cluster f*ck where three lanes are all trying to merge at once. Once I get past this infuriating snarl, traffic overall is worse and it takes me significantly longer in the end to get to work. There is no way I can pay the daily toll, especially now that it is going up. So rich people can pay $20 a day and the rest of us just have to deal with even worse traffic than the soul numbing level we had to deal with prior to tolling? I can't even express how maddening this is.

Anthony L said...

I think it's ridiculous that it will cost me FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS to use the HOV lanes for "FREE" even if i have 5 adults in a vehicle at 2am on a Saturday. $30 to fund an account, and another $15 for the Flex Pass. Then, to add insult to (financial) injury, I can't use the flex pass in a different car? WHY NOT? I CAN ONLY DRIVE ONE CAR AT A TIME!!

What is the penalty for using a Flex Pass in a different vehicle?

Jeff Gray said...

The petition on Moveon will be over 20K signatures within an hour or so at the rate it is going.

We are coming for you, W$DOT, and your whole corrupt system.

WSDOT said...

Brian, the Federal Highway Administration’s HOV lane performance standard of 45 mph 90 percent of the time is not actually enforced and does not apply to the new I-405 system. Modeled from federal guidance, Washington state HOV policy requires HOV lanes to operate at 45 mph 90 percent of the time. When the legislature directed WSDOT to build and operate express toll lanes on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood, they set performance and revenue requirements, including the measure of 45 mph 90 percent of the time.

Helena said...

We are at almost 20,000 signed signatures to pull the plug on the biggest mistake in transportation history; the infamous extortion toll lanes!!!! Soon our traffic woes will get better with the new and improved configuration; 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. Never underestimate the power of the people.

Jamison Harwood said...

I would like to reiterate what Jon Hunter has been saying/asking. For the first 8 weeks with the lanes I would enter SB at 160th through NE 6th and the price was almost always .75 and rarely did it slow down below 60MPH. I traveled the same route North and would exit at 522 where the second lane ends. Almost always .75 and rarely did I have to slow down. For the past week or so, the price for those trips has increased 2 or 3 times but the lanes are just as open as they were the previous 8 weeks.

.75 is not a prohibitive fee for me (less than my cell phone service for a month and hours of family time given back to me.) But if the purpose of the lanes is to reduce congestion in the GP lanes also, why are the prices jacked up even when it is free flowing? I would think you would encourage people to get in the lanes that are flowing and free up the GP lanes a bit.

I think a recent adjustment might need to be adjusted back.

BTW, the double line crossings are occurring mostly right before and right after your photo scanner stations. They aren't only creating a dangerous situation, they are cheating your system. I see it happen between 5-10 times a day and have yet to see anyone pulled over for it. I know it isn't your responsibility, but that's a lot of money in fine revenue and getting cheaters out of the lanes would free them up more.

Bob Trombi said...

Now that I-5 is open are the crews going to focus on White Pass? There are so many businesses that are in serious jeopardy especially the ski area and the lack of snow and business last year. The Holidays are 50% of all a ski areas income. We have paid customers calling our vacation rental business and all future reservations for the ski season have stopped. Can we please get some communication or a statement?
Bob Trombi
owner of vacation rental company in Packwood
www.greatnwcabins.com

Lauren said...

Dear WSDOT,
Your lies and attempts to justify this system are absolutely pathetic. It is a complete money trap to us commuters,who have already paid for these improvements, or did you forget about that $155 000 000. You stated on the news yesterday (ms Peterson or who ever) that this has been so successful with the demand for flex passes being double what they expected. Is she uneducated or just plain stupid. We are being forced to buy these passes to keep our jobs. Give us back our carpool lanes NOW. This has impacted I-5 to side streets everywhere not just 405. Oh ps maybe you should think, observe, listen and educate yourselves before you speak and make yourself look like complete idiots again in the future.
Lauren

Jessie Douglass said...

Can you please explain why the exit from the southbound toll lanes (no-double white line) to SR 522 exits are so far back into Bothell and not closer to the highway like a local exit?

Matthew Nichols said...

WSDOT,

I've noticed big backups on the new ramps from Northbound 405 to 522. I think a lot of this is due to the "construction" that's happening near the end of these ramps, as there are often large trucks/equipment parked at all hours very close to the traffic lane.

My understanding is that there is some kind of cleanup going on with regards to the waterway below, but this has been ongoing for a very long time and seems to really be contributing to the backlog here. Is there a timeline for finishing this work?

yogurtcupcakes said...

I love the express lanes - it's great for when i want to have a reliable (read: I know how long it will take me to get from a to b) and when i don't want to pay i see absolutely no difference in my commute than pre-tolls. I go kenmore to everett in the AM and back down to kenmore in the PM. Is there a continue405tolls page I can sign?

Jon Hunter said...

I paid $5.25 from NE 6th to 522 yesterday, and drove 65 MPH the entire way. Please tell me why I am paying so much?

E said...

WSDOT, why do you hate Snohomish County residents? I commute from Everett to Redmond daily, in the morning, even when the toll lanes are moving at speed limit, the tolls are over $4 until entering King County at which point they shift to $0.75. Also, there is not enough information to make a decision to enter, e.g. I get off after 70th SB, the toll sign only goes to 85th and 6th, how do I know what it will cost me to exit between the two point? If the system is automated, is there an API a developer could use to read current rates for all entrance/exit points and threshold values that trip the rates because the signs are not enough.

kellyt12345 said...

I've noticed in the evening around 6pm,the toll Lane prices at the Lynnwood start show up to $5 to go all the way to the end in Bellevue. I drive a few miles and the price drops to $1.the hov Lane moves over 60 mph the whole way. Why is there such a huge drop in prices for only a few miles? I've learned to exit at 85th St to avoid any surcharge for Bellevue even though I exit at 520 before even going into the Bellevue problem spot. The rates should be adjusted so I'd pay 85th St rates why on earth would I pay the 6th St rate when I don't even go through Bellevue and contribute to the Bellevue hov Lane possible slow down.

Unknown said...

I am a working student who commutes from Everett to Kirkland most weekdays. I am disgusted and appalled that the state has allowed these toll lanes. I pay tuition, books, and now I need to factor in tolls for work. I drive a special needs boy to appts and his mom requests that I use toll lanes to give him more hw time at home before we leave. Even still, however, we leave at the same time we would have before the toll lanes except now it costs me between $5 and $10 each time. Often times the traffic slows to a crawl and I end up going 5 - 15 mph the entire way. How are these lanes helping anyone??? They are not only unnecessary, but have increased traffic and commute times and only the rich can afford them. Does WA love regressive taxing so much that they would rather do this than create an income tax? HEY WASHINGTON YOU KNOW A STATE INCOME TAX WOULD SOLVE YOUR TRANSPORTATION BUDGET ISSUES RIGHT? I have not heard one person say anything nice about these lanes since they opened.

Soundman1402 said...

As a sane and rational person not engaging in histrionics, allow me to present a few thoughts.

1. The toll lane actually saves me money. I'm not joking. I commute south on I-405 to South Kirkland P&R, where I catch the bus to downtown Seattle to go to work. I need to be there by the time the 9:15 bus rolls up, otherwise I won't get downtown in time. That was very difficult to do, as traffic (as you all must recall) between 522 and 520 crawled at around 10 MPH, and my morning schedule did not permit me to leave home any earlier than I was doing. Because of this, I frequently had to skip the bus and drive all the way downtown -- using more fuel, paying an additional toll on the 520 bridge, and -- worst of all -- paying at least $14/day to park. With the toll lanes, it takes me half the time to get to the P&R, and it's become very rare that I have to drive all the way downtown.

2. I'm paying usually 75 cents. That's less than a cup of 7-Eleven drip coffee.

3. When tolls were high (and sometimes when they're not), I see heavy congestion at the 116th St. onramp across all five lanes. There is now one more lane than there used to be, and IT is also clogged up. This isn't a problem with tolls and toll lanes. This is a problem called "heavy traffic." This is being brought on by the ever-increasing density -- office space and population -- of this metropolitan area. We're increasing the density of people commuting without compensating with infrastructure upgrades. We need to get out of the single-occupancy vehicle mindset. Those days are over (or you are welcome to continue sitting in traffic if it means that much to you). I've spent time in several other large cities that have effective transit, and it's wonderful! Munich, for example, has a comprehensive subway system, a few surface rail lines, and city buses, in addition to inter-city trains. There was almost no reason to have a car in Munich. I never waited more than two minutes for an in-town train, and the longest wait I ever had was late at night on a rural line: 10 minutes.

We are in dire need of comprehensive rail transit. As Seattle Streetcar's website says, rail is the most efficient way to move large numbers of people. Link needs to expand, and residents need to welcome it, rather than fight it. Commuting by rail works amazingly well, and if we had train lines just on major freeway corridors, and buses took people to and from the stations, I'm betting we'd see commuter vehicular traffic fall off dramatically. Such systems are very convenient, and very fast.

Regarding the toll lanes... It's not extortion. You don't have to pay the toll to drive on the freeway. The GP lanes are going to be heavy, no matter what. You can pay the toll, or you can carpool, or vanpool, or take the bus. There ARE options! The whole point of the toll lanes is that you pay a premium price to get a premium product: namely, a faster trip. You're upset because you're now seeing a price on a sign above the freeway. It makes it feel like something had been taken away from you. Remember, Houston, Orlando, and many other cities toll the entire freeway, not just one or two lanes of it. For those cities, tolls are a way of life.

@WSDOT, all this said, I do wish 522-NE 6th had one toll lane rather than two, but I also understand that would have driven the cost higher (supply and demand, and all that). Also, an entrance to the toll lanes at 70th to bypass the 85th st. traffic would be great, too (northbound). Traffic is sticky from there until about 116th, after which it thins out and I actually don't need the toll lanes.

Love the Lanes said...

Thank you WSDOT. I love the new toll lanes. My commute has significantly lessened in duration. I would only say that I would gladly pay more than $10 to save the stress and frustration of stop and go traffic. I am not a rich person but my time is worth more to me than the extra cost of the toll lane. There are a lot of haters on here but for every one of them I guarantee there are a hundred of us that love the new lanes. Yes they need some adjusting and the algorithms were off but we knew this would be a transitionary process. Btw I see the same names in these blogs over and over whining and complaining about every response that WSDOT makes to their input. IE Jeff Gray, Helena just to name a couple

Greg Heath said...

I have been commuting in and around the toll lanes for the last couple of months and I have some feedback:

1) I'd like to see times of day/night during extreme off hours where the tolls drop to $0.00. When I'm driving home at 10pm after a long day at work, it just doesn't make sense to have two of the lanes being eaten up by a $0.75 toll. This is similar to how they used to work in that anytime after 7pm and before 5am, the lanes were open and free to all drivers and not just HOV's or people willing to pay tolls.

2) The tolls should always be divisible by $0.25. A couple of times, I have seen it for $0.77. Since my account gets auto-refilled when it drops below $8, the extra $0.02 effectively costs me as much as an extra trip in the lanes. To clarify: Let's assume that during my commute, the lanes always cost $0.75. If I fill my account with $50 and it refills at $8, then I can use the lanes 56 times without causing a refill of my account ($50 minus $8, then divide the whole thing by $0.75). If suddenly, one of the tolls costs $0.77 (as happened to me once), that now makes it so that I can only commute 55 times before my account gets charged $50 again. Now it's possible this is a bug with the actual signs because as far as I can tell on the website, I've only ever been charged in increments of $0.25, which then raises concerns over potential bugs in the signage where the toll rates shown don't match up with the actual amount tolled.

3) I think asking people to find 3 or more people to carpool is a bit over-optimistic for people who commute to their jobs. Most carpoolers that I know don't live right next door to each other, so there is extra time required to pick up each of the passengers. The amount of time it takes to pick up a third passenger (if you can even find one) will likely end up taking more time than people would save by being in the ETL's in the first place. I, for one no longer carpool with my coworker because now with only two of us, we'd both just rather pay the toll than go through the trouble of trying to coordinate our schedules. Either way, it would be nice to see some extra data being gathered around the number of vehicles that are now simply paying the tolls versus the number of vehicles that are commuting with others. It's not just about the money, it's also about encouraging people to share a ride and save the gas as well.

4) Lastly, given the fact that the signs showing the rates are approximately 5 - 10 seconds from the actual gantries, I would like to see an algorithm that would take that delay into account when updating the rates in cases where the toll increases. In other words, if I drive by the sign and it says $0.75, but then between the time I pass the sign and the time I pass under the gantry, the cost goes up to $2.50, I would expect to still only pay $0.75 as that is what I was told I would pay. That would require doing a delay (ideally based on the actual speed of traffic in the toll lanes, but at least waiting 15 seconds) before doing the actual increase. If the rate DROPS, there should be no delay and the change should take effect immediately. It's just good customer service. :)

Tim Royal said...

Greg, it's great to see that kind of balanced feedback. It's so easy to just lament (or adore) without considerable thought or empathy beyond the borders of one's own skin, but several of these (particularly #2 and #4) are tangible, action items that provide a general benefit no matter what particular mindset one has about the existence of these Extortion Toll Lanes.

Great thoughts.


Jon said...

Wow, I just read through this whole blog and the negative far outweighs the few good comments (I don't think there was that many).

W$DOT is out to make money IMO.

I signed the petition currently at 25,832 petitioners.
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop405tolls/?source=search

Fellow Student said...

Could there be an SB405 ETL exit/blend into traffic after 160th Street for 124th Street? There appears to be plenty of room to cross traffic safely for this to be a better solution than the chaos at the current condition. By causing us to exit prior to 195th Street exacerbates the issues at 195th Street, SR522 and 160th Street.

The 128th Street ETL direct access exit does not have enough infrastructure to support getting to 124th Street suitably in any direction. The dilemma of paying for ETL and getting stuck only creates frustration which we should assume is attempting to be mitigated. It also invites the illegal double line crossing syndrome.

Unknown said...

If WSDOT was so eager to test, there should've been a myriad of options that engineers could've come up with before going all in for restrictive ETLs. I wonder where the toll revenues are going? Is it going towards further improving commutes or maintenance of this behemoth of a system?

My opinion is that WSDOT should've tested with expanding HOV lanes to determine whether it made a positive impact. In that case, if the commutes did not improve, WSDOT would have an easier sell with the public: "hey commuters, we tried but..." Instead, it implemented the most restrictive option with poor outreach (just because you have a website and video up, doesn't mean my granny understands what she needs to do). It feels like an overkill for a benefit only a portion of commuters would've enjoyed, while burdening most commuters with a regressive tax just so their commutes didn't get any worse.

WSDOT said...

Love the Lanes – Thank you for such positive feedback! We are happy to hear you are using and loving the lanes.

WSDOT said...

Jon, sorry you feel that way. Toll revenue breakdown can be found on this blog post in case you haven't already checked it out: http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2015/10/one-month-in-review-what-weve-heard.html.

chessman said...

I really love the new toll lanes. It cuts my commute time by 15- 20 minutes each way.
One suggestion I have is this: on the 124th Street HOV lane entrance in KIrkland. for traffic turning left to enter the freeway, there is often congestion as there is no dedicated green light for left turn. I suggest you change that stop light and add a dedicated green light for left turns. Thanks again !

WSDOT said...

Hi Greg – Tolls ending in 7 alert traffic engineers of a communication issue between the roadside toll equipment and the traffic management center. We have safeguards in place to ensure that tolls are calculated fairly. I-405 toll rates are based on traffic volumes, but if we detect a server communication error between the roadside traffic monitoring equipment and the computers which calculate toll rates, then tolls will be based on pre-determined rates based on normal traffic volumes for the time of day. This prevents runaway toll rates based on inaccurate data, and is indicated by a toll ending in 7 to alert traffic engineers of the issue.

We will work on analyzing some data that shows how many users of ETLs are carpooling and how many are choosing to pay. Additionally, we are working on our algorithm to more quickly adjust to demand of the lanes. We have already adjusted the way that the algorithm adjusts in November to accommodate early morning commutes.

As far as off-peak tolling, right now there is no plan to remove 24 hour tolling.

Jon Hunter said...

@WSDOT: Please tell us why you are charging $5.25 when the speeds never drop below 60MPH.

Frankly, you're lying to us on how you allocate tolls as the statements on your website and everything you've stated in the past is pursuant to the lane speeds dropping below 60 MPH being the direct result of tolls being increased.

I have videos to prove it.

Please give me a logical explanation as to why you are charging more than $0.75 cents when the ETL's do not dip in speeds?

WSDOT said...

Fellow Student - The access points were designed keeping several factors in mind, including safety and distance. However, we are continually analyzing access points to see where improvements could be made if needed. Thank you so much for your feedback.

WSDOT said...

Soundman1402 – Appreciate your comments. Thank you. We'll look into that area around 70th Street and see where the issue lies.

WSDOT said...

I'm sorry you are not experiencing the benefit of express toll lanes, Unknown working student. However, we have seen that commute times have increased for shorter distances. Additionally, more and more people are opting to use the lanes for a faster trip, which in turn increases toll rates. We are constantly monitoring the lanes to evaluate where the biggest points of congestion are, how folks are using the lanes, and where we can make adjustments if necessary. Thank you for your feedback.

MilaMoO said...

As a biker I appreciate the free 45mph+ means of getting to work but I'm in constant fear that somebody will jump the double white lines and kill me. There needs to be a way to protect drivers and riders when the speed difference is so wide between the toll and general lanes

Jon Hunter said...

"We have safeguards in place to ensure that tolls are calculated fairly. I-405 toll rates are based on traffic volumes, but if we detect a server communication error between the roadside traffic monitoring equipment and the computers which calculate toll rates, then tolls will be based on pre-determined rates based on normal traffic volumes for the time of day. This prevents runaway toll rates based on inaccurate data, and is indicated by a toll ending in 7 to alert traffic engineers of the issue."

Excuse me, WSDOT, but this is a blatant lie. Are you telling me that the pre-determined rate to get from NE 6th and 522 is $5.25 in the case of a server error?

Why do I drive from NE 6th to NE 70th and see a drop in the rate when the speed I have traveled to get there exceeds 65 MPH?

Further, as I continue that commute at 60MPH from NE 70th to 124th, the cost to get in the lane drops to .75 cents, but the speed is ACTUALLY SLOWER. Then, the cost increases to $5.25 from NE 124th to exit 522, but the speed traveling increased.

Your safeguards are not working. Your rates are not in line with your posted statements on your website, therefore I believe you are out of integrity with what you are doing.

So far, I've paid over $10 in what I believe are erroneous tolls pursuant to the ESL rate determination as indicated on your website.

Please explain.

Greg Heath said...

@WSDOT Thanks for responding! (And extra props for actually reading all of the comments too!) So to clarify, if the price ends in a 7, will the toll just be $0.02 less than the displayed amount? Or does it mean that the tolls will be a completely different amount based on the normal charged amount for that time of day?

CommuterJoe said...

Well after a few months of use and impact the WSDOT is only using talking points about "a year - 18mos to see the real impact"? Well I (and a few thousand others on 405) see it in the daily commute, times have almost doubled or greater for most due to the limited access points.

Impact = a grinding halt to the general lanes.

Hey WSDOT where is the regional mobility plan here?

Not accessing the lanes easily is the BIG mistake here, not the addition of toll lanes. Washington and in fact the West coast has been fortunate not to have many toll lanes. Everybody wants roads but nobody will pay for them,so here we are in a boondoggle of paying an out of state firm for equipment we didn't have and could not afford to have supplied locally, so what 60-70% of the funds go to pay them? hmm, what a strange design.

I'm a huge supporter of ridesharing, HOV lanes, and yes even toll roads, but this is so crazy.
How can buses and car/vanpools get to the ETL lanes when the traffic in the GP lanes is not moving more than 2-5 mph? They cannot. EPIC Fail!

It was bad enough that WSDOT and their consultants knew in advance that the limited access points are not need to operate this type of system, but decided to go ahead and implement it regardless of the actual data. Also in addition it was decided to make a system that negates the 2 person carpool in this corridor as legitimate regional mobility. It didn't make more carpool riders, it forced those that travel in 2's back into the general lanes or pay. Only those that can afford the toll fee are actually afforded a choice.

I always find it funny how those in power always say its "a choice", well maybe for them but for most with limited means, adding cost to commute is not an option. I can afford it, but I know many that cannot afford event the lower rates and now they want to remove the cap to price others out? Again I ask how is this a regional mobility plan?

Also funny how it was mandated the lanes must move >45MPH, but they sell it as an "opt in" system but when it goes slow, oh never mind you cannot use it anymore.
As if it is an option "hey look how cool it is to go faster than the rest of the traffic" but they do not want you to opt in when there is traffic?? Really?

Lastly (and I thank you for reading this far into my rant...) WSDOT PLEASE just remove the access points, you don't need them, you know it, we know it and it will fix the biggest issue we see from Bellevue to the 522 and beyond. Open up the lanes so those that want to use them can get out of the general lanes faster.

Oh BTW I'm a lane cheater and I will continue to cross those double white lines even if I'm caught! The wait is too long to travel a mile to the access point to get into the lane and move. Just FYI, Federal Hwy Safety says vehicles should not travel faster than 40 mph next to stopped traffic, even with the lines this goes against the Federal recommendation of vehicular travel. Safety first?

Now I got to go sit in 405 traffic for the next 80-90 minutes to go a distance that used to take 40-50 minutes. Side roads are no faster but at least it moves better than the I-405. (funny its now less than an arterial speeds in peak commute times)

Ryan said...

Kellyt12345 – You'll only pay one price and there will be no surcharge added to the price you pay based on distance. The price you see upon entering the lanes is the price you will pay, even if the toll rate is higher down the road.

chessman said...

I really love the new toll lanes. The new system cuts my commute time by 15- 20 minutes each way.
One suggestion I have is this: on the 128th Street HOV lane entrance in KIrkland. for traffic turning left to enter the freeway, there is often congestion as there is no dedicated green light for left turn. I suggest you change that stop light and add a dedicated green light for left turns. Thanks again !

Unknown said...

I figured it would take a month to work it all out....I'm in agreement these lanes slow my regular commute,adding 15 to 20 minutes.

WSDOT said...

E – We are working on a solution to put toll rates up on our website and will update you when we have more information.

WSDOT said...

MilaMoO – Thank you for your feedback. Safety is a top priority for WSDOT and we will look into reinforcing the double white lines if it continues to be an issue.

WSDOT said...

Chessman, we are happy to hear you are experiencing the benefit of express toll lanes! We will continue to look into that area around 124th Street and see where we can make adjustments. Thank you for your feedback.

WSDOT said...

Greg, you’ll be charged the rate that is displayed. If it says $0.77 then that will be the price you’ll pay. Happy to help answer your questions!

H.Helsinki said...

I like the toll lanes because they save me time. But the way the system has been implemented leaves a lot to be desired. I've seen many off-peak hours where pretty much no one is using the toll lanes and yet there is moderate-to-heavy traffic in the GP lanes.

Here are my suggestions:

1. I echo Greg Heath's idea of toll-free access when traffic is light. In fact, there should also be toll-free access when traffic in the GP lanes is heavy-ish but can be relieved by opening two more GP lanes. This can be done by updating the algorithm to have a minimum of $0 and not $0.25. It's not that hard. I'm a computer engineer and am willing to volunteer at WSDOT if you guys need help. It makes no sense to have unused, idle infrastructure. Perhaps WSDOT can explain why the minimum amount in their algorithm is not $0 currently.

2. Northbound lanes don't need to have a toll in the mornings because traffic is light. If #1 were implemented, we could solve this illogical mess where there is restrictive use of the lanes even when traffic is otherwise light. At the very least, HOV requirements should be lower for northbound lanes in the AM (and southbound in the PM, as traffic allows).

3. Figure out more access points for ETLs. People entering 405 from certain ramps e.g. 520, or 70th St., have to drive a LOT before they can get into the toll lanes. Even if I'm carpooling or ready to pay a toll, it doesn't help me at all if I drive half the distance in GP lanes, only to exit at 128th.

4. Two lanes is one lane too much. WSDOT should have started this whole experiment by converting the erstwhile carpool lane into ETL and adding 1 more GP lane. Study the impact of such an experiment before you squeeze the GP lanes further and add another ETL.

5. Bring HOV requirements back down to 2 people. As many people have pointed out, getting 3 people to carpool is very hard. And picking up a third person wastes the same amount of time as you'd save in the ETL.

So to summarize:
- Start with 1 ETL to experiment.
- Have more tiers (start range at $0 toll, and start HOV requirements at 1+) in the algorithm so that you are optimizing for the use of infra, instead of whatever the algo currently optimizes for.
- Have more access points.

WSDOT said...

Jon, algorithms adjust toll rates to manage the demand of traffic. If the rate is going up, it means there is a higher demand for use of the ETLs.

Bryan said...

Discouraging people from entering lanes they may have been able to use previously (2+ carpools), makes the general lanes slower. It only keeps people moving who are willing to pay up to $10 for a lane that used to be free.

Jon Hunter said...

"Reliably manages congestion in real time: Toll rates adjust based on real-time traffic conditions to maintain an average speed of at least 45 mph in the express toll lanes." http://wstc.wa.gov/HighwayTolling/I405ETLRates/I-405ETLRatesandPolicy.htm

If the speed is 60-70MPH on average, what is the justification of charging more than 0.75 cents?

Jas Warner said...

Vince - you are 100% correct!!! This is a sneaky regressive form of taxation that favors the rich (much like our sales tax). Eventually we will gentrify the entire Eastside and only those making 60k+ will be able to live here. It's disgraceful.

Kurt said...

My commute has been significantly shorted by the toll lanes. I pay for them by taking a sack lunch to work instead of buying a sandwich or burger. For me the toll lanes have been great... except for the stretch north of 522. I usually got on at 195th but the entry/exit points are so ridiculously far south of 522 that I would sit in too much traffic to get to them. The only choice is to head north to the Canyon Park entrance, but the toll for the CP entrance is over $4 in the morning due to congestion in the single lane, even though the rate is only 75 cents at the entrance between 160th / 124th. I either pay a lot or I sit in traffic and pay .75. I have been choosing to pay the extra for a faster trip, which means adding to the congestion at the Canyon Park entrance.

Add an entry/exit point closer to 195th and you would move a lot of cars away from the Canyon Park entrance and reduce the backup onto SR 527.

Helena said...

These toll lanes are the biggest mistake in transportation history. WSDOT needs to suspend the extortion toll lanes ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. WSDOT needs to stop lieing to the public and admit that they made a huge mistake.

Bothell Resident said...

***ADD AN ENTRY/EXIT POINT CLOSER TO 195TH AND YOU WOULD MOVE A LOT OF CARS AWAY FROM THE CANYON PARK ENTRANCE AND REDUCE THE BACKUP ONTO SR 527!!!***THIS IS WHAT IS NEEDED MOST!!!!***

The Canyon Park surface streets are filled with traffic now due to Southbound 405 commuters trying to access the toll lanes at their only access point of the Canyon Park/Bothell onramp!!! PLEASE make changes to this! We already have drivers making their way to their jobs at our business parks, high school student drivers, parents and school busses transporting our students - all trying to get to their local desitnations and general increased traffic congestions due to our huge population growth in the Bothell/Canyon Park area. Adding in the additional flow of commuters filling up our surface streets is making our morning and afternoon commutes impossible to navigate. Example: a normal 10 minute drive to our local grocery store utilizing 228th street and Bothell-Everett Highway can now take as long 45 minutes.

Blogger Kurt said...
"My commute has been significantly shorted by the toll lanes. I pay for them by taking a sack lunch to work instead of buying a sandwich or burger. For me the toll lanes have been great... except for the stretch north of 522. I usually got on at 195th but the entry/exit points are so ridiculously far south of 522 that I would sit in too much traffic to get to them. The only choice is to head north to the Canyon Park entrance, but the toll for the CP entrance is over $4 in the morning due to congestion in the single lane, even though the rate is only 75 cents at the entrance between 160th / 124th. I either pay a lot or I sit in traffic and pay .75. I have been choosing to pay the extra for a faster trip, which means adding to the congestion at the Canyon Park entrance.

Add an entry/exit point closer to 195th and you would move a lot of cars away from the Canyon Park entrance and reduce the backup onto SR 527."

Helena said...

Wow, WSDOT has resorted to planted statements to go along with the other lies they are spewing out the public. They will do anything to spin a positive comment in regards to the failed extortion lanes lol

WSDOT said...

Jessie, we are gathering feedback like yours and monitoring the access points, and will consider changes if our engineers deem them appropriate.

WSDOT said...

Kurt, glad to hear of your positive experiences using the ETLs. We are looking into that spot around SR 527 to see how we can improve the bottleneck congestion that occurs in that area. Unfortunately, access points sometimes require drivers make that choice between going a little further in the express toll lanes or getting out early to reach their desired exit. We hope to have some improvements coming soon! Thank you for your feedback.

WSDOT said...

Jon, if we charged 75 cents then you would not be going 60-70 mph. More people would buy into the express toll lanes and slow them down.

Wasting time on the 405 said...

Bothell Resident hit it on the nail. There have been so many complaints on here regarding the Bothell/Lynnwood mess, but WSDOT has yet to offer some sort of reply as to what will be done, other than sit and wait 6-12 months. Bothell residents can't even get onto 405 from Canyon Park because it's so backed up. What's the point of a toll lane if you can't get to it? Sure, I'd pay a toll if I could get to it makes with the current layout. Two general lanes and one ETL for thousands of people daily. Everyone trying to get in or out of the ETL lanes here blocks and slows down all lanes and side streets.

I'm glad there's some happy folks that commute to Bellevue, but all of the Bothell residents and commuters are getting the short end stick on this colossal mess. My former 7 minute commute now takes an average of 40 minutes. Expand the road before continuing with the tolls from Lynnwood to Bothell!!!

Kevin said...

I ride the bus from Lynnwood on I-5 to 520 Westbound on 405 each morning and afternoon.

Ever since the tolls began, (except for the first 3 or 4 days), the bus ride has been 15 min. or so longer than before, morning and afternoon.

This is consistent every day. This is not working, even for buses!

Mikhail Bajenov said...

THANK YOU VERY MUCH for creating I-405 Express Lanes!!! It made life so much easier for me, especially when I want to make sure I'm on time for my meetings or appointments.
I really can't wait to see the same on I-5. Do you have such plans?

SUGGESTION: Why don't you set a MINIMUM SPEED limit for the express lanes? Sometimes some guys are moving there at the same slow speed as a mainstream traffic, even when having wide open space in front of them. At the same time, it's against the law to outstrip them since I have to cross a double line. Such situations turns the Express Lane concept into its opposite.

Thanks
Mikhail Bajenov
Lynnwood

BlackMoon said...

Those new lanes are the best thing ever. Saving 40 minutes or more in commute on average versus the old system.

Keep up the good work WSDOT. Thanks!

Paula A said...

You need to add an entry for the express lanes going southbound before the Woodinville interchange because there is a big backup at 195 and up the hill to past 160 and no entrance. You also need to remove the double line coming down to the 195th exit, the exit lane is too soon and it is causing quite the backup.

I love to use the lanes as they allow me to choose how valuable my time is at the time of travel, BUT you should not hike the rate so much as then it makes the lanes too exclusive and has resulted in the nickname "the Lexus Lane" which looks like a benefit for the rich.

WSDOT said...

Kevin – I'm sorry your commute time has increased. We understand that this is a tough transition for many drivers out there, and we ask for your patience as we work through this initial learning curve. Is there a specific part of the commute that seems to cause the slowdown?

WSDOT said...

Black Moon – So glad to hear you're experiencing a faster, more reliable commute! Thank you for sharing your positive feedback.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for the feedback, Paula A. Glad to hear you're experiencing the benefits of the ETLs! We will have our project team look into feasibility of adding an access point in that area and see what specifically is causing the backup. WSDOT took many factors into consideration when planning the access points and continues to consider all feedback as we look for potential solutions.

WSDOT said...

Mikhail, glad to hear you are loving the ETLs! We are so happy that they are working well for you and bringing reliability back to your trips on I-405. You can read up about our upcoming projects on our website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/.

Speed limits are enforced by Washington State Patrol and are not in our control. Double white lines were reinforced in order to secure more space between faster moving traffic in the ETLs and the general purpose lanes. We will look into further reinforcements should we see an opportunity for improvement. Thank you for your feedback!

WSDOT said...

Wasting time – We already know we can't build our way out of congestion here. With our population growing quickly and our roads in higher demand, WSDOT is tasked with making sure the corridor can providing reliable trips when they are needed the most. We continue to remind drivers there is a 6-12 month adjustment period because the new system has introduced many changes for drivers, and we understand it will take time for the corridor to settle into a new normal. Thank you for your patience and your feedback in the meantime.

1dc5aaf4-a834-11e5-91a1-471520604c07 said...

Thank you WSDOT for setting up the new Toll Lanes!

It's great that they can be used when needed - giving drivers the option to pay to get moving quicker on a convenient, as needed basis.

Please don't be discouraged by the naysayers - I appreciate everyone working to make the system work - It has made my life better! :-)

It would be a HUGE mistake to change everything back to the old way.

Keep up the great work!

JustAnotherCommenter said...

I hated the idea of toll lanes when first announced - swore I'd never use them. But once when traffic was bad and I really needed to get home quickly, I decided to use them. Since then I've used them a few times and I've grown to appreciate them. (At least when the price is reasonable - $10 per trip isn't very reasonable). However, I've noticed a negative traffic trend since the toll lanes came online: the NB on-ramp to 405 from 520. Before the toll lanes, the NB on-ramp to 405 from 520 would back up only occasionally. Now, it's a *daily* occurrence. Even when traffic on both 405 and 520 is mild, there's always a big, black knot that forms at that interchange, resulting in a backup line to get onto NB 520. Not just at 5pm, but from 3:30 - 7pm or later. Another annoyance is that you can't get into the toll lanes after merging from 520 until nearly NE 70th. Please open up the toll lanes earlier!

WSDOT said...

Thank you for sharing your positive experience with us! We agree that diverting to a 2+ HOV system would be a great step backward and we hope that the end result of this system is a corridor that moves people more reliably and efficiently.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for the feedback, @JustAnotherCommenter. Sounds like the express toll lanes are doing exactly what they were intended to. The interchange at SR 520 is a spot our project team is paying close attention to and is working to identify where adjustments can be made. We appreciate your comments.

stop405tolls.org said...

Reality check here: The only people liking the tolls are solo drivers who are willing to pay. This is the overwhelming minority. All other people who use this road hate what has been done to it and for good reason.

WSDOT, you say you have made improvements to the access points? Did you consider that motorcyclists are terrified to drive this road now? Previously they could enter the highway and quickly merge over to the carpool lane where they are relatively safe from the lanes of traffic. Now they are stuck in the GP lanes with cars all around them for several miles until reaching the entry point. But at the entry point is also the greatest danger for them as cars are merging, accelerating, braking and changing lanes. Extremely dangerous, especially for a motorcycle. In fact, the bus drivers hate what you have done too. They don't like driving on the shoulder of the road, but they are forced to do so because they can't get over to the ETL which you worked so hard to make faster for them.

The hardest part about this is admitting this is a failure. To do so would surely cost someone at WSDOT their job.

Helena said...

We would all be better off if WSDOT would admit they made the biggest mistake in transportation history with the extortion toll lanes. They traffic much much worse. They need suspend the extortion toll lanes ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. Let's hope representatives Harmsworth and Andy Hill fix this mess since they are fighting for the people

WSDOT said...

Bryan, our intention is not to discourage people from using the lanes, though we do encourage drivers to consider carpools as an option for their daily commutes. Overall, the result should be a system that moves people in all lanes more reliably and efficiently.

stop405tolls.org said...

WSDOT, the whole premise of "Value Pricing" is to discourage people from using the toll lanes. By finding the "right price" it will discourage just enough people from using the ETL and to use the GP lanes or alternate routes so that the speed is above 45mph. That is the misconception of using tolling for "congestion management". It does nothing to improve overall throughput.

Texas A&M University College of Civil Engineering published a study that proves ETLs lead to the decline in carpooling. Please tell us how charging money for people to drive to work will either increase capacity or decrease demand of that roadway?

1dc5aaf4-a834-11e5-91a1-471520604c07 said...

I used the Toll Lane yesterday with a carpool of 4 riders.

It was very convenient - just flipped the FlexPass to HOV, and was all set and didn't have to pay to use the lanes.

When not in a carpool, when needed, I just pay the amount to use the lanes.

If there is a "keep405tolls.org" or equivalent, I would like to support that group. The lanes are great right now as they are.

Helena said...

This is another planted statement by WSDOT. They have sunk to new levels as to planting statements to go along with there false propaganda and lies lol.

Unknown said...

Can you please allow entrance to 405S ETL, from 522, sooner. It is causing accidents.

WSDOT said...

Where are you seeing accidents specifically? Happy to look into solutions.

WSDOT said...

Comments like these are helpful, and we appreciate your positive feedback!

WSDOT said...

@Peter, thank you for requesting clarification about the difference between adding general purpose lanes as opposed to express toll lanes. The scenario you mentioned works to a point, but it has a few missing pieces. When adding lanes, we need to consider demand. On I-405 there is more demand in the corridor than can be accommodated by a single new lane (this is why we have hours of backups) and each year demand increases. A new non-managed GP lane would be filled up and then slow down just like it does today. Not only would it slow down, it cannot process many vehicles as they are all stopped or crawling along. We have examples of this where we added a lane, saw some short term benefits, but congestion was still present, and then growth overwhelmed the system:

•Northbound I-405 added lane from 195th to SR 527
•Northbound I-405 added lane from 112th to I-90
•Renton Stage 1 added one lane each direction between I-5 and SR 167

The express toll lanes allow us to keep the lanes full and performing at a high level. They won’t meet all the demand in the corridor, but if we add these types of lanes, they have the ability to perform at high levels and process a lot of vehicles. Adding new non-managed GP lanes will be overwhelmed by demand and then they do not process many vehicles.

If we omit current demand and future increase in demand, your scenario works. Unfortunately these demand issues are real. We would have to continually add general puprose lanes to get ahead of demand otherwise we end up with additional GP lanes that are congested and essentially a parking lot on the road. You requested some data on the matter, and our traffic engineers are putting together an example. To gather the data will take a few days, so check back in, and we’ll post it in another reply. In the meantime, this article does a pretty good job of explaining why adding a lane doesn’t help solve congestion: http://www.wired.com/2014/06/wuwt-traffic-induced-demand/. Thank you again for your question.

1dc5aaf4-a834-11e5-91a1-471520604c07 said...

It appears that my comments have been labeled as "planted by the WSDOT" - which could not be further from the truth.

I am not associated with the WSDOT in any way - Thousands of commuters use the new toll lanes at various levels, and yes, I am one of those that use the lanes.

I think it's important to note here that while some commuters object to the lanes, others are in favor of them - and I am in favor of the lanes as they give us a choice - better than it was before.

This week, I had 4 in my car - and simply flipped by FlexPass to the HOV option - and sure enough, I was not charged for the trip, as the equipment worked perfectly - another data point in favor of the lanes. Have enough for a carpool, and there is no charge when using the FlexPass with the HOV option set.

WSDOT said...

Thank you for sharing your feedback! We like having that choice, too. Glad you shared your positive experience with us.

david jametsky said...

This entire system is a scam. I ride a motorcycle and was just sent another bill. And when I called to get it dropped they wanted me to pay. I had to explain for a second time that I was on a motorcycle and had a pass. I find it interesting that with a camera technology that is able to do facial recognition is unable to determine that I am on a motorcycle. Or are they just hoping that people will just pay and not fight it?

WSDOT said...

David – We are sorry you went through the trouble of fighting the toll charge while you were on a motorcycle on I-405. Motorcycles do not have to pay tolls on I-405, but will be photo tolled without a properly installed motorcycle pass. We suggest taking your motorcycle to a customer service center at your convenience to have your pass tested to make sure it is working well. If not, customer service will give you a replacement.

The photo tolling technology is not capable of face recognition. Unfortunately, the technology cannot tell the difference between a motorcycle and a standard vehicle at this point – having a pass properly installed is the easiest way to avoid tolls as a motorcyclist on I-405.

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