Thursday, January 21, 2016

You want it? You got it.

Feedback-driven changes ahead on I-405

By Caitlin Morris

Ever since the I-405 Express Toll Lanes opened in September 2015, we've been listening to your feedback and suggestions for how we can improve the system. While we can't make every change, when we see an opportunity to improve the system, we want to do it.

Starting Thursday night, our contractor's crews will continue making adjustments to the express toll lanes based on your feedback.

From Comments to Construction
Here's what we've been hearing from you and how we're changing the system to improve your trip:
  • Comment: I have a hard time exiting northbound I-405 to get to I-5. There isn't enough room.
  • Change: We're pulling back 425 feet of striping to allow additional room and time for drivers to exit the express toll lanes and merge over to I-5. See map item 1.
  • Comment: On southbound I-405, I can't tell where the express toll lanes end in Bellevue.
  • Change: We're adding "Exit Only" wording to the pavement on the southbound express toll lanes at Northeast 6th Street in Bellevue to alert solo drivers that they need to merge to the right lane to continue south on I-405. See map item 2.
  • Comment: There isn't enough room to exit and enter the express toll lanes on northbound I-405 between NE 195th Street and SR 527.
  • Change: We're improving express toll lane access in that area by extending the access points by a little over 400 feet to give drivers additional time to merge in and out of the system. See map item 3.
What's already changed?
Making modifications to the express toll lanes is not new. Ever since they opened in September we've been making modifications like the ones above based upon our observations and your feedback. Some of the improvements we've made so far include:
  • Northbound I-405 at Northeast 6th Street — We improved pavement marking and provided longer access to provide a clearer entry point and allow drivers more time to get into the express toll lane system. See map item 4.
  • Southbound I-405 at SR 527 — We added 500 feet of access room to allow traffic to enter the system earlier and aid in decreasing congestion. See map item 5.
  • Southbound I-405 at Northeast 160th Street — We added additional pavement markings at 160th at the beginning of the two lane section of the express toll lanes to help drivers clearly see the transition. See map item 6.
What's next?
We know many of you have other areas you'd like addressed, and we're  still listening and looking at more options. We've heard a lot of feedback about the merge from SR 520 to northbound I-405. In the next two months we will be adjusting the express toll lane access point and lengthening it to provide more open entry into the express toll lanes. This change will relieve some of the congestion in the general purpose lanes in the SR 520 interchange area.

Stay tuned for more information about the feedback-driven improvements we're making to the system. Wherever you're headed, our goal is to give you an option to get there faster.


Helena said...

Everyone would be better off if WSDOT would just admit that these toll lanes were the biggest mistake in transportation history. We would all be better off if the extortion toll lanes were suspended ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane. Representatives Harmsworth and Andy Hill are doing the right thing by making real improvements to the failed system.

foster said...

Since the toll lanes were started traffic has gotten a lot worse. Once in awhile we have to drive along there and have noticed heavier traffic in the regular lanes and hardly anyone in the toll lanes. I think it's a failure. Usually there are two or three people in our vehicle but we can't use the lanes for free because we don't have the required 'good to go' pass and don't know how to get one.

foster said...

Since the toll lanes were started traffic has gotten a lot worse. Once in awhile we have to drive along there and have noticed heavier traffic in the regular lanes and hardly anyone in the toll lanes. I think it's a failure. Usually there are two or three people in our vehicle but we can't use the lanes for free because we don't have the required 'good to go' pass and don't know how to get one, I'm betting lot of people are in this situation as well.

WSDOT said...

Hey @foster, thanks for your feedback. We are happy to help. It is far too soon to deem the ETLs as a success or a failure at this point. After all, they have only been active for a few months. With two or three people traveling in your car at most times, you should consider getting a Flex Pass, which would enable you and your passengers to use the ETLs for free when the pass is set in HOV mode.

Through March of this year, you can request a free Flex Pass by taking a quick survey through our partner, For more information, visit our website or check out the instructions here:

Cu Bong said...

Has WSDOT made any change or improvement to aid the bottleneck at exit/entry Southbound I-405-SR-520 ? WSDOT is making changes along the corridor but why isn't at this area ?
from what we are seeing every morning, is the weaves taking too much unnecessary spaces and put 3 GPLs into narrower lanes with a lot slow moving traffic activities ( cars get ready to merge to exit to SR-520, cars exit from ETLs is being cut off in fronts of cars traveling from GPLs ,etc ) after pass this section everything is wide open ?
what if we make the weave lanes narrower and get back to GPLs ( tax payers owned) auxiliary lane to lure the drivers get to this lanes to exit to SR-520 a bit earlier . By doing this , we can add more capacities into this area. I understand your concern about safety but it is worth to look at it ,
nothing mentioned about this area in this blog article , why ? please advise\
thx said...

" It is far too soon to deem the ETLs as a success or a failure at this point." @WSDOT, no it isn't. This system isn't working and no amount of "tweaking" or waiting for drivers to "learn" is going to make it work. "Congestion Management" is not the same as "Reducing Congestion". WSDOT has been mistakenly using the terms interchangeably. Reducing congestion would mean making all of the traffic flow better. Congestion management just moves it from the ETL to the GPLs. It is OK to make a mistake. It is only a failure if you cannot accept it isn't working and start over. You make it sound as if there is a magical amount of time that if we wait long enough, the problems will magically fix themselves or that we will quit complaining and accept this as the new normal. I don't think so.

Vince R said...

What do you call it when 1 out of 5 employable people are unemployed? The Great Depression

What do you call it when 1 out of 5 people die from a disease? A pandemic

what do you call it when 4 out of 5 people are forced to sit in traffic congestion?

Good-to-Go ...

WSDOT - where we sacrifice the flow of the many, for the flow of the few....

Vince R said...

@stop405tolls - I completely agree with your statement:

""Congestion Management" is not the same as "Reducing Congestion". WSDOT has been mistakenly using the terms interchangeably. Reducing congestion would mean making all of the traffic flow better. Congestion management just moves it from the ETL to the GPLs."

The 'prime directive' for the ETL is that speed will always be 45 MPH or faster. To that end, GPLs have been reduced, the qualification for the use of the previous HOV lanes has been increased, pushing more traffic into the GPLs, and traffic will be shed from the ETLs, into the GPLs to meet the prime directive.

Since more than 80% of the traffic is in the GPLs, where traffic congestion has increased, the very definition of traffic congestion dictates that saying congestion has decrease is a lie.

It is ethically and morally wrong to continue to say that Good-to-Go has reduced congestion. Yes there are a few people that have benefited from it, but as was pointed out, Good-to-Go is a traffic management approach that sacrifices the commute times of the majority of the commuters for the minority that qualify or are financially able to pay to use the ETL.

Now for those that are able to pay, ask yourself how the 'prime directive' of the borg.. er... WSDOT works as demand increases. Here is how it works from what I can see... remember.. it must move at 45 MPH...

1. Its moving at 45 or better.. do nothing...
2. Its slowing down, increase toll fees.
3. Its slowing down and tolls are at maximum allowable, restrict usage to HOV 3+ only.
4. Its slowing down and restricted to HOV3+ only, restrict to HOV 4+ only.
5. Its slowing down and restricted to HOV4+ only, restrict to HOV 6+ only.
6. Its slowing down and restricted to HOV6+ only, restrict to buses only.
7. Its slowing down and restricted to buses only, kaboom... system reset.... no path forward.

We have already seen 'congestion management' at level 3 and its been 4 months.

What will little Johnny/Sally do when you can't hop in your BMW, pay $10 to bypass the traffic congestion and get them to soccer practice on time? What will you think of GTG then? Will you then see why it doesn't fix congestion? When you have to experience is like the rest of us?

WSDOT has an important role in this state. Usually, their work goes unrecognized. It is a shame that the hard work of the WSDOT folks that are working so hard is overshadowed by the poorly implemented projects like GTG.

Maybe the next time a lobbyist comes knocking at their door with a project that will rake in millions of dollars for a private out-of-state company... they will do more than 'guess' at the outcome and acceptance of its implementation.

Before we create out next project that forces our residents to pay huge sums of money to a state sponsored private monopoly, we, the people, will voice our thoughts in the form of election ballots, instead of sitting by idly watching these 'good-ole-boy' politics in action.

WSDOT said... - The system is designed to improve traffic flow in both ETLs and general purpose lanes, given the proper amount of time for drivers to adjust and for traffic to settle into a new normal. We continue to ask for patience as we give this new system a chance to work as it was intended to. We will update readers on future adjustments that improve performance of the system.

Helena said...

We would all be better off if WSDOT would just admit that the extortion toll lanes were the biggest mistake in transportation history and suspend the failed project ASAP. The new and improved configuration would be 4 general purpose lanes and 1 HOV lane.

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

Contrary to those that believe the ETLs to be a failure, I see the project as being very successful.

Not only do regular drivers have a choice to use the lanes based on cost, bus riders are better assured of a faster commute - and the more bus riders, the greener we are. Being more green with a smaller carbon footprint was one of the goals of the project.

Thank you WSDOT for making the change to the ETL system - keep up the great work, and I look forward to seeing it in place for the entire stretch of 405 in the future.

Vince R said...

@ newguid (1dc5aaf4-a834-11e5-91a1-471520604c07) - Why hide behind multiple aliases...

So having read the legislation for GTG, there was nothing in it about being more green, nor reducing the carbon footprint.

Also notable, there was nothing in the legislation permitting GTV be outsourced... in fact, the wording is such that if taken literally, means that WSDOT may have violated the legislation as it was passed, not just by missing the 2014 deadline but also by outsourcing the operations to a private company in Texas. ("operated by WSDOT" is there, but there is no mention of it being operated by a private company in Texas), but I digress.

Back to being 'green'... Since the policy for GTG is to shed traffic into the GPLs, that means that it isn't about reducing the carbon footprint. Its about managing congestion for those that qualify for the ETLs (the RICH Lanes). Those using the GPLs are considered less important in meeting the goal (45 MPH in the ETLs). Since the majority of commuters are using the GPLs, adding more congestion to the GPLs will not reduce the carbon footprint... it will actually increase the footprint. Reducing our carbon footprint will only happen if you migrate people into higher occupancy vehicles, no new vehicles are using our roads AND the higher occupancy vehicles emit less when averaged over the occupants of the vehicle.

As GTG is implemented, our carbon footprint is going up... Nice try...

As for pushing GTG the entire length of 405... yes, WSDOT has plans to do that... however, the mess that it caused north of I-90 will be nothing compared to the mess it will cause south if I-90 if additional capacity isn't added. The topological challenges in that section of road will make adding lanes complicated and there is only 1 real route that people can take to get around the mess... so traffic will gridlock much worse than it did to the north.

As far as regular drivers using the ETLS, I would love to see a study of the income levels of those 'regular' drivers that are paying to use the ETLs. You can be pretty sure that they will not be making minimum wage. However you can bet your bottom dollar that those people that are not able to use it have, and will continue to pay their part of the half a billion dollar subsidy for those people that can afford to use it.

Vince R said...

@Helena - I am not sure GTG qualifies for the biggest mistake in transportation history. There are plenty of other projects that, depending on how you measure things, are bigger failures....

* The Tacoma Narrows bridge (fell 1940)
* The I-90 Bridge (sunk 1990)
* The Hood Canal Bridge (sunk 1979)
* The Titanic (sunk 1912)
* The National Supersonic Transport Initiative, Boeing 2707 (started 1963)
* The Hindenburg (explosion 1937)
* The SHWEEB (2009)
* The HOTCHKISS Bicycle Railroad (closed 1909)
* The Straddling Bus Design (2010)
* The Railplane Design (1930's)
* Hawaii's Haunted Highway (opened 1997, almost 40 years after planning started)
* The Gravian Island Bridge Project (defunded 2005)
* The Montreal-Mirable International Airport (1975)
* The Airport System in Spain (15 of the 24 still in operation... sort of)
* Argentina's proposed commercial flights via space shuttles... (????)
* B-52 crashes due to faulty sensors (2008)
* The Ford Edsel (1957)
* The Prestige sinks off of Spain (2002)
* The Exxon-Valdex sinks off Alaska (1989)
* The Shuttle Challenger explodes (1986)
* The Shuttle Columbia explodes (2003)
* Mercedez-Benx bought/sold Chrysler (1998)
* Deepwater Horizon explodes (2010)

These are just a few transportation related failures that had or would have had a much larger impact... most are measured in billions of dollars lost (or would have been lost).

I included some, like the Hindenburg, which resulted in systemic change and a few others, like the straddling bus design, to show that even smart people come up with really bad ideas...

However, it does seem like our state has had quite a few mishaps in terms of projects... Knock on cement... so far we haven't sunk the 520 bridge... but we came pretty close in 2007.

So I know it might feel like GTG is the biggest failure in transportation history.. that is only because you're sitting in its wake every day.

These are surprisingly still accurate What Seattle's Doing About Bad Traffic (Hint: Not a Whole Lot)
or I-5 traffic delays in Seattle skyrocket... as of last year, our transportation system was rated number 46 of the WORLD's worst traffic problems.. yyyeeeaaaa... we are now globally recognized for traffic congestion.

WSDOT said...

@CU Bong, thank you for letting us know about your concerns regarding the southbound I-405/SR 520 interchange. As we said above, these adjustments are the first of many feedback- and observation-based changes to the express toll lane system. Currently, we’ve noticed the most congestion around SR 520/I-405 interchange is on the northbound side. To help that area, we will adjust the express toll lane access point length and type to provide more open access. We plan to make this change in the next couple of months as weather allows. Also, you may be happy to hear that the I-405 Master Plan ( envisions adding direct flyover ramps between the SR 520 HOV lanes and the I-405 ETLs. These direct access ramps would eliminate congestion-causing merging in and out of the lanes. However, that project remains unfunded at this time. That said, we’re constantly monitoring the current system and are prepared to make changes, should congestion rise in that area. Thanks again for letting us know.

Onmine said...

Just a response to some of the naysayers commenting here. I am sympathetic to the plight of people stuck in traffic, but the ETLs are not the problem. Demand for highway capacity exceeding supply is the problem. Even if, as suggested by numerous concerned citizens and politicians, we changed the configuration to 4GP+1HOV, we would still have intractable daily congestion. Congestion is a fact of life for this area and it is not economically justifiable to raise enough money to build the massive number of lanes that would be required for people to drive as much as they want down wide open freeways. It is not possible no matter what we try.

So we have to make choices about how to manage that demand within available supply. HOV lanes are one choice that has proven to be successful because HOV lanes move more people than GP lanes do, and reduce the number of cars on the road at the same time, but only if the HOV lanes are kept moving. The HOV lanes were already getting congested before the ETLs were installed - so the only way to increase efficiency is to convince more people to carpool together in one HOV lane or add a second HOV lane. WSDOT chose (right or wrong) to have 2 HOV lanes.

Once that's done, what would you prefer to do with the leftover space in the 2 HOV lanes we now have? Let it sit idle? Or let some pay for the privilege of using the HOV lane instead of the GP lanes, which again increases the number of people being moved while removing vehicles from the GP lanes?

Helena said...

Last night I went to the neighborhood meeting at Kennydale elementary. One of the speakers was WSDOT and they spoke on the extortion toll lanes. Most people at the meeting had the idea that the new lane added from Renton to Bellevue was going to be a general purpose lane since WSDOT had promised us years ago that we would get 2 general purpose lanes. Once people found out that the new lane was going to be a toll lane, the group became very angry. Everyone at the meeting has heard about the epic failure of the failed project on the northern end and anger filled the room. Many people could not believe how such a failed project could be implemented on our stretch of freeway since we are in dire need of general purpose lanes. We all knew after listening to WSDOT with there lies and propaganda that we as a community were going to fight the biggest theat to our community. If the toll lanes were implemented on the southern section before the much needed general purpose lanes it would create a traffic catastrophe. We all agreed if it created a nightmare up north then the extortion tolls would be 10 times worse as everyone would avoid the tolls by going to Lake Washington Blvd. This meeting now has created a neighborhood group that has joined the fight with our neighbors to the north to put a stop the the extortion lanes and Judy Clibborn who needs to be voted out. Congratulations WSDOT as being the most dispised and hated organization in the state. It is going to take years to earn the publics trust back after the biggest mistake in transportation history. Oh, another question at the meeting was "why couldn't we vote on this". Or "why in the world would they implement this after the failure of the northern end". The reason is WSDOT does not care nor do they listen to the wants and needs of the public. We will win and the public will do away with both Clibborn and the tolls. The momentum is growing and you will have to listen to the public,

WoodinvilleCommuter said...

@Onmine yes you said it perfectly. In addition I would add that the toll lanes also could provide a new unplanned source of revenue and it would be nice to see that used to fund future improvements to the 405 corridor.

WSDOT said...

Thank you for sharing your positive feedback with us! We agree that the express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood are a step in the right direction.

WSDOT said...

Helena, thank you for your feedback on yesterday’s meeting. We appreciate your willingness to participate in the discussion of how to better improve the express toll lane system. WSDOT staff and consultants personally engaged with more than 10,000 people through over 130 presentations, community meetings, and fairs and festivals to learn how express toll lanes affect a diverse range of drivers, including low income populations. Awareness of the project plans reached a high of 85%, meaning that a vast majority of people were aware that express toll lanes were being added. We welcome drivers’ comments on how we can make further improvements to the system.

Helena said...

More nonsense from WSDOT. I was at the meeting in Kirkland back in March where hundreds of angry people voiced there opposition to the extortion toll lanes. WSDOT didn't listen then and they still are not listening now. What a joke.

Vince R said...

@WoodinvilleCommuter - As a resident, I am concerned when I see toll systems go in that have an 84% operating overhead... as in for every dollar collected on your public funded road, only 16 cents ends up as revenue.

If that were a charitable organization, and only 16 cents of your donation went to actually addressing the needs advertised by the organization, you would call it a sham. It doesn't seem right that we outsourced this role and that such a large portion of the collected fees for our public funded roads are going to private pockets.

Congestion is a direct consequence of demand. You can only reduce congestion by increasing capacity or reducing demand.

Traffic flow is derived from congestion, but is also composed of a number of other factors, and it is what we feel sitting in traffic. When the flow of traffic is not moving, its a traffic jam and it doesn't matter if congestion is high or low that day.

For example: An accident in one section of the road will have a different impact on the traffic flow that an accident on a different section of road with the same level of congestion.

Now Good-to-Go is not about directly fixing congestion as much as it is about managing traffic flows. Its about:

* Trying to keep some lanes moving faster than others, sacrificing the experience of some commuters over others (flow focus)

* Promoting the use of higher occupancy vehicles (demand focus)

* Promoting alternative travel routes (demand focus)

* proving technology to help move towards a per-mile-toll for the State of WA (revenue focus)

I am well aware of other places that have and use systems similar to GTG. However, I, like many others, do not feel that the GTG project was implemented well, especially in areas where GPL congestion was increased as a result of GTG, which is most of the area, but to a higher degree at the north end of 405.

That we should even consider moving forward with GTG south of I-90 after learning of the problems the same type of change had north of 522 is irresponsible if additional GPL capacity is not added in conjunction to the roll-out.

I am all for fixing our traffic flow problems and congestion management. I am not a fan of how poorly this was done with GTG and that those employees at WSDOT who are responsible for this project have been in fixing the problems it has caused.

In my opinion, the project seems to be ignoring the environmental impact, safety risks and the impact to the non-WSDOT managed infrastructures. There is a term that is very relevant in the tranportation industry called the 'crash economy'. That term is used to describe the impact of changes in the transportation industry related to accidents with cars. I feel that an additional term needs to be coined and that is the 'Good-to-Go economy' and it would include all the costs related to the implementation of 'Good-to-Go'. Things like:
* Additional state police to deal with GTG infractions and the higher level of accidents on the hwy
* Additional local police to deal with the increase issues off of the hwy
* Additional lawyers to deal with the accidents and infractions
* Additional judges to deal with the new cases
* Additional state and local administrative staff to deal with the higher load
* More tow truck drivers
* More local road repair
* Higher taxes to pay for all this stuff (definitely not included in the GTG overhead)
* etc

Vince R said...

GTG will have a much higher impact on our wallet than just the tolls its collecting. It will be affecting the lives of a lot of people, and mostly not in a positive manner. Yes, you will find some people that it directly helps. At some point, we will see numbers on what that level is. But when you look at the 'GTG Economy', we will be in the red as a region.

We can do better at managing traffic flow without programs like GTG... we just have to really go after the things that we all see every day causing traffic jams... areas with no shoulder to move accidents to, bottlenecks like I-5 under the convention center, areas needing additional capacity, like 405 south of I-90 and north of 522, a bypass highway somewhere in the area around HWY 18, etc... you know the things that really reduce congestion and fix flow issues... I prefer that over give those limited few who are better a faster commute home to get little Sally to soccer practice, while leaving the rest of the folks sitting in exhaust fumes.

Vince R said...

Here are some ideas... (yeah.. I know... some will sound crazy but it doesn't hurt to toss them out)

1. If we would like a system that is more socially fair, give every vehicle registered with GTG a monthly allotment of something like 5 free trips in the ETLs. After that, each trip in the ETL will cost you $0.25 more than your previous use and the cost resets to 0.00 at the end of the month. Example each month: trips 1-5: free, trip 6 $0.25, trip 7 $0.50, trip 8 $0.75, trip 9 $1.00, trip 10 $1.25 ....

2. Insource the operations of the system so that we have some control on the overhead.

3. Do away with the need for a GTG tag during non-peak times. This would reduce the operational overhead, reduce the net-effect of the 'GTG Economy' and make it easier to support.

4. Make all non-bus traffic in GTG fee based...

5. Run 2 person HOV next to 3+ person/bus etls and HOV would be free for 2+. As traffic in the ETL slows, adjust the occupancy requirements up until it speeds up and shed the traffic into the HOV lanes (instead of the GPLs as GTG does now). This would result in predictable traffic flows for ETL while increasing capacity for the GPLs by allowing 2 person occupancy vehicles back into HOV lanes (for free).

6. Require all places where ETLs exist to have no fewer than 4 lanes in each direction, not counting 'auxillary lanes' since WSDOT likes to use that term to game the system. So there would be no less than 2 GPLs, 1 HOV, and '1' ETLs. Insure that we never have a ETL/HOV and ETL/GPL ratio of higher than 1/1 and 1/3, respectively.

7. Consider no more 'half-billion dollar experiments' when we have well known areas that need improvement now.

8. Have a daily cap on tolls collected of some number, like $5. After that max amount is reached, you are able to drive on any toll section for no more fees that day, that includes bridges, ETLs and any other dreamed up toll we have yet to see. The driver can select the reset period that best meets their needs. Night workers, for example, might select noon as the reset time, where 9-to-5'ers might pick 2 AM.

9. Allow people to buy daily, weekly and monthly total access for some reasonable amount, but at a much lower rate than purchasing it on demand. Say $5 for by-the-day, $30 for by the week, $100 by the month. WSDOT would have their income. The rich people still get to drive in the lanes. The revenue is not processed by a 3rd party, so more stays inside the state. It works toward a state goal of 'tolling for use of our roads'... (not a fan of since it puts us at a competitive disadvantage federally... but that is a different issue)

Dan said...

Please, please, please do something to fix the 520 Eastbound/Westbound to northbound 405 ramp. In a state where people fundamentally have no clue how to merge, having two lanes merge into a single lane before getting onto 405 creates a constant backup. Eliminate the merge and have the two lanes continue onto 405 northbound. There is plenty of room before the 70th street exit to have the lanes end so that people can merge into the mainline traffic.

Marie said...

I am a big supporter of the new toll lanes because they give me a choice. The traffic on 405 has been bad for years, and now I have the option to pay when I absolutely must get to my destination on time.

Thanks WSDOT.

Vince R said...

@marie - So you would prefer having ETL over better traffic flow for all?

Maybe I am hearing your statement the wrong way but it sounds like this when I read it.....

"I can noq afford to pay to use the ETL and bypass all of the horrible traffic that has plagued the 405 corridor for years. I support an approach where we further reduce traffic for those in the GPL so that I can drive in the ETL 'whenever I need it'...."

I feel the problem with this approach is best demonstrated by the feedback directly above yours... it is identifying an area in the highway where traffic flows poorly... every single day... and has for years. It backs up... causing further issues often more than a mile back. There are several issues at play:

1. Traffic entering the highway in an area where people need to merge for the interchange. (Weaving on 520)
2. High demand during peak periods. (Congestion on 520)
3. Two lanes are merged into one. (Congestion point on 405)
4. The entrance to 405 quickly becomes an exit (Weaving on 405)

I am probably missing a few things... but this issue has been going on for a very long time. At least 10 years. It is not a surprise to WSDOT... they know about it. But has it been fixed? Well obviously not, because we chose to do things like GTG. And to make matters worse, I don't recall seeing any plans to do anything about it in the WSDOT master plan...

So "Yeaaaaa" we have a way that some people can pay to bypass our traffic mess (48th worst on the planet)... buts its disappointing that we have implemented something that doesn't help with the same issues we have been living with for years... we chose an approach that helps only a few.

WSDOT said...

Dan, thank you for your feedback. We will look into that area further to see where adjustments can be made.

WSDOT said...

You’re welcome, Marie! And thanks for sharing your experience.

A reminder to all – we appreciate the open dialogue on these comment threads. We continue to look for ways to improve the system and we take feedback seriously. To encourage civil discussion, we ask that you avoid personal attacks of any kind. We hope to ensure everyone has the opportunity to share their feedback, regardless of their opinion on tolling.

Vince R said...

From: Lawmakers seek to fix issues with Express Toll Lanes on I-405
January 14, 2016

In response to mounting problems facing Washington drivers using new Express Toll Lanes on Interstate 405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood, two lawmakers are proposing changes to improve toll lane policies and reduce congestion. Sen. Andy Hill and Rep. Mark Harmsworth today announced a new bill they’re sponsoring to address issues raised by thousands of constituents.

“While large scale projects require an adjustment period, WSDOT’s toll lane implementation has not demonstrated they’re going to make this work for users,” said Hill, of Redmond, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “Drivers simply aren’t getting the service, congestion relief and overall system improvements they were promised. I had concerns from the beginning, but worked to improve the system and the implementation to make it work best for our community. However it’s become clear project leaders aren’t going to take bold action needed to make this successful.”

The legislation requires the Washington State Department of Transportation to use only one Express Toll Lane each way throughout the corridor and opens all lanes to unrestricted use not subject to tolls between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. and on state holidays.

The proposal also moves away from designated entry and exit points, instead allowing continuous access except in specific locations where vehicles should not cross for safety reasons.

WSDOT launched the Express Toll Lanes — two each way between Bellevue and Bothell and one from Bothell to Lynnwood — on September 27. Since then lawmakers have heard directly from hundreds of constituents, and online from thousands more, with issues ranging from congestion, to traffic safety and technical glitches with paying the tolls.

Toll rates start as low as $0.75, but increase up to $10 depending on congestion in the general purpose lanes. The Washington State Transportation Commission had originally proposed a $15 maximum toll. However, Hill and three Senate colleagues urged the Washington State Transportation Commission to revisit their policies and prices, ultimately working to reduce the top price to $10.

The new legislation was released ahead of the 2016 session and received a public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 14.

405 user said...

I like the new toll lanes. Don't change a thing.for a small fee I shave a half hour off my commute. Thanks washdot

WSDOT said...

Awesome, thanks for sharing your experience @405user!

Angie said...

You are asking the public to buy into what was forced upon us all. Last I checked, for something this massive a vote should have been given to All who live in this area. You have fixed the problem for the wealthy, not for the greater good. I agree that it is only a problem if you cannot admit your mistake and correct it. The only way traffic will "correct itself" at this point is if the public continues to grumble behind your back and pay because they have to make it to work on time or WSDOT admits a mistake and fixes it. Taxation without representation is a major reason our fore-fathers started this country. Taxing us to use a road that I already paid taxes for and did not vote to have would probably fall under why they fought for independence.

WSDOT said...

Angie – The express toll lanes give drivers a choice that they didn’t have before – the option to pay a toll for a faster trip. Prior to implementing the express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood, WSDOT conducted over 100 public briefings, engaging with more than 10,000 people to gain input and provide educational information about this new system.

As our region’s population grows, we need to effectively manage growing demand of the roadway we have available to us. We cannot build our way out of congestion. We’re listening to the feedback that drivers have given us, and as you may have heard, changes are coming soon. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.

Doug Maher said...

WSDOT continues to sell us on the idea of a speedier commute because of the elite willing to pay for use of the Express Lanes thus reducing traffic on the general purpose lanes. Let’s hear some statistics about the commute for the general purpose lanes alone and exclude the Express Lanes. How much faster are the general purpose lanes from a year ago, prior to the Tolling?

There are “X” number of cars moving down “Y” amount of pavement. The formula for decreasing congestion is to reduce the number of cars or increase the amount of pavement. Adding tolling tricks that cater to the elite, increasing lane changes, and adding complexity to an already stressful commute is not a solution. My suggestion: (1.) Get rid of all the tolling apparatus including the manpower needed to support it and stop wasting money on research into tolling, there by, saving Millions of dollars. (2.) Add up the cost of making effective improvements to the infrastructure. (3.) Subtract #1 from #2. (4.) Add up the number of gallons of gas sold within the commuting area. (5.) Divide the answer from # 3 by the answer from #4. (6.) Pass a gas tax equal to the answer of #5. A gas tax IS an equitable solution that empowers all of us. If you don’t drive you don’t pay. If you want to pay less, drive a more efficient car. This requires no “studies” and cuts down of the time required for infrastructure completion by reducing tolling apparatus and crazy confusing stripping. Put the money into blacktop!

If you are confused trying to understand this solution, I advise you to drive the toll corridor along I405 in the hope of gaining a greater understanding of confusion.

AKM said...

There are a lot of people that have no regard for the double white lines and cross at will. Three times our vanpool has almost been in an accident because of someone crossing the double white lines and cutting into the HOV lanes. Why they wait to do it where you have to slam on your brakes, I don't know. Other states have "soft" partitions. You can go through these in an emergency, but it will stop people from illegally crossing the white lines and prevent an accident. I don't understand how people don't know how to get a "Good to Go" pass and use that as an excuse not to use the HOV lanes.

AKM said...

There are a lot of people that have no regard for the double white lines and cross at will. Three times our vanpool has almost been in an accident because of someone crossing the double white lines and cutting into the HOV lanes. Why they wait to do it where you have to slam on your brakes, I don't know. Other states have "soft" partitions. You can go through these in an emergency, but it will stop people from illegally crossing the white lines and prevent an accident. I don't understand how people don't know how to get a "Good to Go" pass and use that as an excuse not to use the HOV lanes.

$$$$ said...

Just all lanes Toll only, and HOV lanes HOV only.

WSDOT said...

AKM, Drivers who illegally cross the double white line could receive a $136 ticket from Washington State Patrol. We are lengthening access points to make entering the lanes easier, however we do realize that some continue to cross the double white lines, despite signage indicating the fine. We don’t have a barrier separating the ETLs, because we expected to make adjustments to access points within the first year.

AKM said...

The lengthening of access points may help with congestion, but not with the crossing of the double white lines. Many cross in areas where there are no access points. Some cross the last minute to take the 8th street exit in Bellevue, or the Beardslee blvd in Bothell. Like I said, It is not fun having to slam on the brakes. A soft barrier would eliminate it.

Mike Ptacek said...

Frustrated driver
Whay is it today getting down 405 from Lynnwood the toll charge was $10.00 per leg traveled.This showed up that from lynnwood to Bellevue it would cost $30.00 total with good to go.And additional fees if it was mailed out.Who has this kind of moneyy to get to and from work.And whoever is deciding the tolls do they even commute on 405?

Mike Ptacek said...

Whya are tolls at $30.00 to go from Lynnwood to Bellevue today.
The lanes are going slower then then the main flow