by Jennifer Rash
Starting on Friday, March 18, the I-405 express toll lanes will no longer operate 24/7/365. That’s right, we’re shutting off the tolls at 7 p.m., and opening the lanes to all traffic all night (and weekend) long until Monday morning at 5 a.m.
For the past two months, we’ve been working with the Governor, the legislature, and the Washington State Transportation Commission, on a plan to change the I-405 express toll lanes hours of operations.
On Tuesday, March 15, the Commission and WSDOT announced the express toll lanes will be free on nights from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., weekends, and six major holidays (for those doing the math: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).
Why these times?
Since we launched the express toll lanes last September, regional drivers have made millions of trips in the express toll lanes, showing us just how much they value reliability during the weekday commute. However, we’ve also heard many concerns from drivers, including asking for the express toll lanes to be free during periods of low traffic like nights and weekends.
After nearly six months of monitoring and analyzing traffic patterns, we feel the new hours of operations will still allow us to provide a faster, more predictable trip to transit, carpools and toll-paying customers when they need it most, while balancing traffic across all lanes during off-peak travel.
This is another big change on the roadway, and we expect it may take drivers some time to get the hang of the new rules:
- Check the signs. The signs will display the words “Open to All”. That means drivers can enter the lanes for free without a Good To Go! pass or a carpool.
- Use the designated access points. Drivers must observe the designated access points, and are not permitted to cross the double white lines at any time. Failure to observe these rules may result in a $136 ticket. WSDOT designed an express toll lanes interactive map to help drivers learn the access points and plan trips.
- Direct access ramps are HOV only during off-hours. Only transit and two-person carpools are permitted to use the direct access ramps at NE 6th Street in downtown Bellevue and NE 128th Street in Totem Lake. These signs will show HOV2+ NO PASS NEEDED. This means there will be limited exits for drivers traveling southbound through Kirkland and downtown Bellevue due to the restrictions at these two locations. WSDOT is looking at options to improve access in these areas. During weekdays, drivers will still have the option to pay a toll to use these ramps.
- Other tolled facilities operate as usual. The SR 167 HOT Lanes and SR 520 and Tacoma Narrows bridges will operate as usual.
We’re planning more than a dozen changes to the I-405 express toll lanes corridor to increase capacity and improve operations including:
- New merge-and-weave lanes and hard running shoulders at key northbound I-405 chokepoints near SR 520 and SR 527,
- Improved striping and signage,
- Longer access points that make it easier for drivers to merge into the toll lanes, and
- Improved algorithms to keep the toll lanes moving.
Getting more information
And finally, we anticipate Good To Go! customer service call volumes may increase with this and coming changes, so we encourage drivers to first look for information online at GoodToGo405.org and pay toll bills and set up accounts using MyGoodToGo.com.
We ask drivers to be patient as we continue to improve the operation of these lanes, and please continue to send us your feedback.