It’s been one year since we launched the I-405 express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood. It’s been a year of launching, learning, and listening. Here’s a recap of the #405ETL one year milestones.
Although we don’t yet have one-year data, we know so far through the first nine months that express toll lanes are generally doing what they were intended to do:
- Provide a faster and more predictable trip. The old HOV lanes could not keep up with our region’s booming traffic growth and were often as congested as the regular lanes during peak periods. Today, carpools, vanpools, transit and toll-paying customers have a more predictable trip and save on average between 10 and 15 minutes in the express toll lanes compared to the regular lanes during peak periods. There is increasingly more demand from drivers than there is capacity in this section, which means higher toll rates for longer periods of time. When toll rates are at $10, speeds will often drop if drivers continue to enter the lane, but the express toll lanes are still usually faster than the regular lanes.
- Offer drivers a choice. In the 11 months since opening, drivers took over 12 million trips in the express toll lanes. We’ve also seen 1.1 million different vehicles in the lanes. Speaking of unique vehicles, here are the top 10 types of vehicles on accounts of Good To Go! customers who used the I-405 express toll lanes at least once since they opened:
Most drivers don’t use express toll lanes every day, but they are an option when you need them. About 70 percent of Good To Go! pass holders who use the express toll lanes use them between one and five times a month – or about once a week.
Fund future corridor improvements. Not only are express toll lanes covering operating costs, WSDOT is already reinvesting $10 million of toll revenue back into the corridor to improve traffic in the Bothell area. The Northbound Peak Use Shoulder Lane Project between SR 527 and I-5—planned to open next summer.
Looking to the future…
The region is experiencing unprecedented growth, and while the express toll lanes have shown to be an effective tool for managing congestion, there’s still work to do:
- Adjustments to express toll lanes: Feedback plays an important role in our work, and we want to continue to hear about your experiences in the express toll lanes. Since opening, we have listened and acted upon driver feedback, and made more than a dozen improvements to the express toll lanes including longer access points, additional signage and pavement markings, algorithm changes to respond to traffic volumes and patterns, and opening the lanes to all during nights and weekends.
- New projects: The 2015 Connecting Washington package along with toll revenue from I-405 express toll lanes funded the Renton to Bellevue Widening and Express Toll Lanes project. Travelers on the stretch of I-405 between SR 167 in Renton and NE 6th Street in downtown Bellevue face one of the most gridlocked routes in the state, particularly during peak travel times. This project will add new capacity through a two-lane express toll lane system that connects the SR 167 HOT lanes in Renton to the current system in downtown Bellevue.
For the longer term, WSDOT will continue to partner with local cities and transit agencies to implement the I-405 Master Plan, a multi-modal and balanced approach to managing congestion. This work includes looking at additional capacity projects north of SR 522, such as a phased approach to extending the express toll lanes.