Thursday, September 24, 2015

I-405 express toll lanes - Live updates blog

By Ethan Bergerson

We know this is going to be a big change for commuters on I-405 as we implement express toll lanes for a more reliable trip, so we're providing you with a resource to let you know how those lanes are working through the first week of use.
Check back here for daily updates on construction, commute conditions, tolls, and other important happenings on the I-405 express toll lanes.

Update 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2: Have a good weekend everyone. Don't forget that 2 person carpools can use the express toll lanes for free with a Flex Pass all weekend long.

Drivers heading north on I-405 this weekend should plan ahead for several maintenance closures this weekend. Check here for updates. 

Lane closures:

  • Saturday, Oct. 3, to Sunday, Oct. 4 - Up to three lanes of northbound I-405 from SR 520 to Northeast 85th Street will be closed from 8 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. The Express Toll Lanes will be open to all vehicles at no charge through the closure area.

Ramp closures:

  • Saturday, Oct. 3, to the morning of Sunday, Oct. 4 - The eastbound and westbound SR 520 ramps to northbound I-405 will be closed from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. 
  • Saturday, Oct. 3, to the morning of Sunday, Oct. 4 - The Northeast 70th Street on-ramp to northbound I-405 will be closed from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 3, to the morning of Sunday, Oct. 4 - The northbound I-405 off-ramp to Northeast 85th Street will be closed from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Update 4:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2: We've been getting lots of questions about how to navigate the express toll lanes during a traffic incident. Click here to find out why toll signs sometimes say "HOV ONLY" and what you should do when the express toll lanes are blocked.

Update 3:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 2: Welcome to the Friday evening commute. Hope you all have a safe trip home, and consider using the express toll lanes to make it to the weekend just a little bit sooner. Current travel time from Bellevue to Lynnwood is 45 minutes in regular lanes and 15 minutes in express toll lanes for $0.75.

Update 10:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2: The first Friday commute is in the books. Thank you for your patience out there during the blocking collision. We'll post a blog later today that runs through some of the FAQs we received during that time. Right now, tolls are at 75 cents and 2+ carpools ride free w/a Flex Pass in HOV mode.

Update 8:00 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2: All lanes are clear. Toll rates from Lynnwood through Bothell peaked at over $5.00, but are now at $4.25 for the 17 mile trip.

Update 7:00 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2: HOV ONLY in the 405 ETLs southbound near SR 527. The left two lanes, including the 405 ETLs are blocked with a collision. HOV ONLY means, 3+ carpools are free with or without a Flex Pass.

Update 6:30 a.m., Friday, Oct. 2: It's Friday! Last day of the first week of express toll lanes. Tolls from Lynnwood to Bellevue are at 75 cents w/a Good To Go! pass. 3+ carpools are free with Flex Pass in HOV mode. Tweet @GoodToGoWSDOT with your end of week questions!

Update 8:00 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: More I-405 lane closures tonight for planned maintenance. We're using the express toll lane rate signs to help manage traffic, so stay alert for displays notifying you of lane closures and other changes. If you're heading south on I-405 tonight be on the lookout for a free trip from Northeast 70th Place to SR 520 as we open up the express toll lanes to everyone in order to keep traffic moving.
  • The right lane of southbound I-405 from SR 522 to Northeast 160th Street closed 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. (NO ETL CHANGES)
  • The eastboubnd and westbouind SR 522 ramps to southbound I-405 closed 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Two right lanes of southbound I-405 from Northeast 70th Place to SR 520 closed 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. (ETL OPEN TO ALL)
  • The southbound I-405 off-ramp to SR 520 closed 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Two right lanes of northbound I-405 at Northeast 160th Street closed 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. (ETL OPEN TO HOV ONLY)
  • The northbound I-405 ramp to SR 522 closed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • The Northeast 160th Street on-ramp to northbound I-405 closed 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Up to two left lanes of northbound I-405 from Northeast 195th Street to SR 527 closed 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. (ETL CLOSED)

Update 4:21 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: More people are jumping into the ETLs as we approach the first full week of I-405 express toll lanes. From Monday, Sept. 28, to Wednesday, Sept. 30, we saw an increase of 25 percent more drivers using the express toll lanes. We expect to see this trend increase as more drivers test out the lanes.

Update 4:00 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: All lanes of I-405 are have been cleared. Current toll rate is $1.75 for a 15 minute trip from Bellevue to Lynnwood. The same trip will take 40 minutes in the regular lanes, which is average for this time of day.

Update 3:41 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: Wondering why some northbound I-405 express toll lane signs are displaying "HOV ONLY" for some destinations? We're using these signs to help manage traffic due to a collision in Bothell. Drivers in Bellevue still have the option to pay a toll for a faster trip as far as SR 522, but we can't sell you a faster trip all the way to I-5 because the express toll lanes are blocked in Bothell.

Update 3:14 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: The collision on Northbound I-405 near NE 8th St in Bellevue has been cleared. Express toll lanes are still blocked past NE 195th St in Bothell due to a second collision.

Update 2:53 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: A second collision is now blocking the northbound I-405 express toll lanes past NE 195th St in Bothell.

Update 2:40 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: A collision is blocking both northbound I-405 express toll lanes and the left general purpose lane at NE 8th St in Bellevue. Northbound I-405 express toll lanes are both closed up to this point.

Update 11:45 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 1: During the Thursday morning commute we saw better than normal travel times on I-405 from Lynnwood to Bellevue in both the GP lanes and the express toll lanes. Tolls once again topped out at $3.75, but were on average around $1.50, and saved drivers around 20 minutes at the peak of the peak. Still have questions? Visit our website for all things express toll lanes:

Update 9:50 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30: We saw some slowdowns in the southbound I-405 regular lanes beginning at 8 p.m. when crews closed the two right general purpose lanes for planned work. Signs displayed "express toll lanes open to all (no tolls)" in order to give drivers a free way around construction, but many drivers stayed in the clogged general purpose lanes anyway. The backup has gone down now but construction will continue throughout the evening.

Update 7:15 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30: Wrapping up another quiet evening commute with more and more drivers choosing to use the express toll lanes. Night owls should plan ahead for some lane closures throughout the I-405 corridor tonight as we perform planned maintenance work. Roadwork will begin as early as 8 p.m. in some locations and all lanes are planned to reopen by 5 a.m. Signs will notify drivers when express toll lanes are closed, or when toll lanes are open to all.

Update 5:00 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30:
Our traffic engineers are keeping a close eye on I-405's regular lanes to see how traffic is moving. I-405 travel time data shows that commutes in the regular lanes remained close to normal after express toll lanes opened. Traffic volumes on I-5 are steady as too. After several days of operation, the new Interstate 405 express toll lanes are working well.

Update 4:20 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30: We're seeing completely normal commute times in the general purpose lanes northbound and southbound on both I-405 and I-5, with the express toll lanes offering a faster commute to drivers who need it. Current traffic on I-405 is average in both directions; travel time from Bellevue to Lynnwood is 40 minutes in the regular lanes or 15 minutes in express toll lanes for $1.25. Current trip time from Seattle to Everett on I-5 general purpose lanes is 60 minutes, which is typical as well.

Update 3:00 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30: All lanes of the express toll lanes are open, just in time for the afternoon peak commute. Carpools with 3 or more passengers can travel for free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode. Current toll rate is $0.75 with any kind of Good To Go! pass. You can also choose to Pay By Mail for $2 more if you don't have an account.

Update 2:34 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30: One lane of express toll lane now open at NE 8th St. Vehicles can once again enter express toll lanes at NE 4th St or NE 6th St direct access ramp. Current toll rate is $0.75.

Update 2:20 p.m., Wednesday Sept 30: On I-405 northbound at NE 8th St there is a collision blocking both express toll lanes. NE 6th St direct access ramps are restricted to HOV and buses only, with no express toll lane access at NE 4th St. Vehicles can cross the double white lines to get out of the lanes prior to the collision and return to the lanes after the collision.

Update 10 a.m., Wednesday Sept 30: We saw a lighter commute on southbound I-405 between Lynnwood and Bellevue today. We reached $3.75 at the peak of the peak in the express toll lanes and saw a 25 min time savings. Right now, 2+ carpools are free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode and tolls are 75 cents throughout the corridor.

Update 8 a.m., Wednesday Sept 30: The fog is lifting, and we're seeing better commute times in both the express toll and general purpose lanes this morning. Tolls at about $2 with a Good To Go! pass from Lynnwood to Bellevue.

Update 7:15 a.m., Wednesday Sept 30: We're seeing normal commute times on southbound I-405 from Lynnwood to Bellevue in the GP lanes - that's around 40 minutes. The express toll lanes will save you about 20 minutes right now for $1.00 w/a Good To Go! pass. Pay By Mail will cost an additional $2.

Update 6 a.m., Wednesday Sept 30: Morning commute #3 with the I-405 express toll lanes. Right now, toll rates are 75 cents and 3+ carpools are free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode. Map your trip before you leave the house:

Update 7:30 p.m., Tuesday Sept 29: It's the tail end of a quiet evening commute in both the express toll lanes and regular lanes. More drivers are choosing to use the express toll lanes, which offered a 15 minute trip from Bellevue to Lynnwood for between $0.75 and $2.50. We're happy to see typical commute times in the regular lanes too, but still expect traffic to fluctuate for a few weeks as drivers learn to use the lanes. We predict it will take six months to a year for traffic to fully adjust and for express toll lanes to reach their full potential.

Update 5:40 p.m., Tuesday Sept 29: A lot of drivers are choosing to use the express toll lanes tonight. Many drivers are using sticker passes, any kind of Good To Go! pass will work to pay the lowest toll rates.Toll rates are currently $1.50 for a 15 minute trip from Bellevue to Lynnwood. Travel times in regular lanes are 50 minutes, which is typical for this time of day.

Update 4:10 p.m., Tuesday Sept 29: Express toll lane usage up during Tuesday morning commute. While Tuesday morning's general purpose traffic was slow, it was within the range we've seen for commutes on I-405 in the past few years. General purpose lane trips from Lynnwood to Bellevue ranged from 55 to 68 minutes. Express toll lanes offered drivers a new choice to experience a much faster 17 minute trip for an average toll of $1.75.

Update 3 p.m., Tuesday Sept 29: Still need a Flex Pass? We hand delivered 1100 passes to Walgreens stores today. That's in addition to 1100 more that we delivered to QFC and Walgreens yesterday, and 1400 last Friday. Click here for a list of participating stores, and be sure to call ahead to confirm that they're on the shelves at your local store.

Update 10 a.m., Tuesday Sept 29: The morning commute was rough today due to several major traffic collisions and the changes on I-405. Thank you for your patience! Right now 2+ carpools w/a Flex Pass are free and tolls are 75 cents through the corridor.

Update 8:30 a.m., Tuesday Sept 29: GP lane travel times continue to increase around the region today. On I-405, we ask for drivers' patience. We're at the start of a learning curve as everyone gets familiar with express toll lanes and traffic patterns will change daily. We're seeing a travel time savings of 40 mins in the express toll lanes for a toll of $1.50.

Update 6:45 a.m., Tuesday Sept 29: We're seeing increased congestion in the GP lanes as expected for the first week with express toll lanes. Right now, the ETLs will save you about 30 minutes for between $1.00-$2.50. Coming from Lynnwood? First entry point is just north of SR 527.

Update 5:30 a.m., Tuesday Sept 29: Morning commute #2 with the I-405 express toll lanes. Yesterday morning, the drive between Lynnwood and Bellevue took approximately 16 minutes in the ETLs, and the average toll rate was $1.50 for the 17 mile trip. Right now, toll rates are 75 cents and 3+ carpools are free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode. Map your trip before you leave the house:

Update 8:15 p.m., Monday Sept 28: For the first time in years, Interstate 405 drivers had a choice today for a reliable weekday commute using express toll lanes. For $1.50 in the morning and a 75 cent toll in the afternoon, drivers saved about 30 minutes on their commute between Bellevue and Lynnwood. On Monday afternoon, the regular lanes of I-405 ran about only five minutes slower than an average Monday afternoon.

Update 5:40 p.m., Monday Sept 28: Travel time in express toll lanes from Bellevue to Lynnwood has been a steady 15 minutes all afternoon offering a faster and more reliable trip for carpools, vanpools, transit riders, or who drivers choose to pay $0.75. Regular lane travel times remain close to average at 45 minute from Bellevue to Lynnwood.

Update 4:30 p.m., Monday Sept 28: Tolls are currently $0.75 northbound from Bellevue to Lynnwood for an estimated time savings of about 25 minutes. The current travel time in the regular lanes is 40 minutes, in comparison the average travel time at this time of day is 35 minutes.

Update 3:22 p.m., Monday Sept 28: Details on the first Monday morning commute are now available online: Drivers ease into the I-405 express toll lanes during first commute Monday.

Update 3:00 p.m., Monday Sept 28: Three person carpools can now drive for free with a Flex Pass. Toll rates are currently $0.75 northbound from Bellevue to Lynnwood for a 15-20 minute time savings. Drivers can use any kind of Good To Go! pass to pay the lowest toll rate.

Update 10 a.m, Monday Sept. 28: Two person carpools free w/Flex Pass - Morning commute is winding down. Toll rates are 75 cents and two person carpoolers are now free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode.

Update 8 a.m, Monday Sept. 28: Major time savings in the 405 ETLs - As morning commute congestion increases in the GP lanes, we're seeing more use and major times savings in the express toll lanes.  Toll rates hover between $1.50 and $2.50 from Lynnwood to Bellevue to go 45 mph or faster. No pass pay. 3+ carpool rides free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode.

Update 7 a.m, Monday Sept. 28: 17 mile trip past traffic between 75 cents and $2.00 Travel from I-5 in Lynnwood to NE 6th Street in downtown Bellevue in express toll lanes at 45 mph or faster. No pass pay. 3+ carpool rides free with a Flex Pass in HOV mode.

Update 6:30 a.m., Monday Sept. 28: Save time ETLs this AM- Toll rates are around $2.00 to go 45 mph through heavy traffic SB on I-405 from the I-5 merge to Bellevue.

Update 6:10 a.m., Monday Sept 28: Collision on SB 405 is clear There is a collision blocking the center lane near I-405 southbound just south of SR 522 is n ow clear. Toll rates in the express toll lanes are holding at 75 cents.

Update 6 a.m., Monday Sept 28: Know before you go There is a collision blocking the center lane near I-405 southbound just south of SR 522. Pay attention to the signs on the roadway and stay alert out there. A lot has changed between Bellevue and Lynnwood.  You must only enter and exit the express toll lanes at designated access points. Plan your trip with our Interactive Map before you leave the house:

Update 5 a.m., Monday, Sept 28: Morning Peak is in effect Good morning! We're officially in the first peak commute. Don't forget, you need 3 passengers and an activated Flex Pass in HOV mode to ride free as a carpool. All all the Good To Go! passes will work or you can Pay By Mail. Stay alert out there, a lot has changed on the roadway.

Update 1:10 p.m., Sunday, Sept 27: We're live on I-405! Express toll lanes opened to traffic at 1 p.m. today. Even if you don't have a Flex Pass, you can pay to use the I-405 express toll lanes with any Good To Go! pass or using Pay By Mail.


Anonymous said...

This toll lane project is one of the dumbest projects in recent memory. It's funny, that all the meetings I have been to and hearing all of the opposition, the toll lanes are moving forward. The gas tax money would have been better spent on general purpose lanes. The Wadhington State Transportation Commission does not listen to the public and is totally out of touch with the people of this state. Real Lanes for real people!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the "real" commute is about the same (or a little worse) but you have found a way to make people pay for it. Another epic fail from the WSDOT.

Anonymous said...

My typical 45min commute on 405 took 90mins...thanks.

Anonymous said...

Sure, the commute times in the express toll lanes are quick but for everyone else, it's slow as usual. The express toll lanes were WIDE open this morning, very little cars and a complete WASTE of lane capacity. Sure, the WSDOT now meets the federal mandate for 45mph in HOV lanes but did nothing to address commute times for normal people. Great job WSDOT.

Anonymous said...

So now carpools can't use the carpool lanes. I guess that makes sense in a political way. I'm sure everyone who travels on 405 all do it every day, since we don't encourage tourism.

Anonymous said...

What a waste of money and time! I live in Kirkland and I commute to Redmond everyday. Normally it has been 15 a min commute daily. Today it was an hour and 6 min. All the traffic is coming from 405 and backing up all the city roads. This is unacceptable! Washington state wake up! Tolling 405 is a massive mistake.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, DOT. Now that "good to go" is open on I-405, congestion is worse than ever and it takes longer than before to go anywhere. What a waste of tax payer dollars! Somebody needs to start a petition to turn the new lane into a general purpose lane so that we can all have better commutes instead of just the privileged few.

P.S. Please give us back our 4th general lane between 124th and 85th. It actually helped traffic quite a bit but now it's gone.

Cu Bong said...

I am in very patience mood today , and waiting for the better days to come on I-405.
I noticed that one of the reason why traffic is backing up when toll lanes active today. WSDOT is wasting too much spaces in the section in/out toll lanes, in specific the sections I-405 South , in/out exit on 160th and in/out exit to SR520, spaces are wasting to use and favor for those existing out from toll lanes, it leaves a very narrow lanes for non-toll lanes, that sections is going up the hill and people tend to be run slower but then the 3 lanes right now was re-draw to narrower than before and created a BOTTLE NECK in these section.
Please WSDOT, please look into this please , I am begging you to spend your time, driving with us in the morning and experience the horrible life we are dealing with now, WSDOT please help please

Anonymous said...

Well, at least the State got rid of the carpool lane! What a relief! 3 people? Really? Let's see for those who actually have a 50+ mile commute, how to get a 3rd person...hmmm, maybe put day laborers on a median, and swing by to get one of them in your car...sooo, check three people, now try merging from the 522 off ramp to get into the carpool lane, oh...wait...THE DOUBLE WHITE LINE! Guess that will be $136 plus the $10 dollar fee, wow what a deal!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is the epic failure that was predicted by all. My commute time increased SUBSTANTIALLY thanks to this pure exercise in greed. WSDOT, you are complete, total and utter thieves. Please know, WSDOT, that you have made commuters lives an even greater misery and we curse your very existence. Please know I despise each and every employee of your pathetic organization and each time I see one of your vehicles on the road they will be greeted by the one finger salute. Oh, that WSDOT truck wants to merge in front of me? Sorry, not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea; look at all the people they put to work on this project. Look at all the time spend in planning and man hours designing it.

WSDOT needs to add speeding cameras to monitor the traffic violators going above 45 mph while in traffic and while we are add it add stop lights on each ramp to help with the flow of traffic. I am glad to see for once our tax dollars are being spend the right way. I am also glad my vote on this helped.

Now that this project is up and runny WSDOT can now poor more money into Bertha. Another great idea!

Anonymous said...

Funny How the same time you start charging tolls you somehow came up with a extra lane! Hmm.... Perhaps maybe the Toll would have not been needed had you added a extra lane in the first place. You advertise like you are doing it for the people to make things better but the real reason is it pads the pockets a little more! Maybe you can waste the extra funds on buying some useless piece of art work.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everyone else on here, another epic fail WSDOT and another way to make people pay double for trying to get to work and cheat us out of our hard earned money. 405 was bad enough and you just made it worse. Now I have to find 3 people to commute with or pay. THANKS! You just made everything more confusing for everyone, especially the on ramp to 522, there is/was no warning that this changed. Now I-5 and other ways to Seattle will be clogged thanks to you.

Anonymous said...

In this day and age, WSDOT is also not capable of posting the current Toll online, so that you can make an informed decision as to whether to leave the house or not!

Previously it was simple, what is the drive time for normal lanes. Now you need to know the drive time for normal lanes, the drive time for HOT and the current Toll - then you can decide whether to work from home for another hour or not. Without the current Toll visible online, you have no option but to drive up to the first sign and hope that it is not showing $10.

Ryan Wilson said...

This new money sucking idea from WSDOT nearly doubled my commute today. Leave toll roads to the private industry. WSDOT's job is to decrease overall congestion, not just for those people willing to subject themselves to WSDOT's extortion. Absolutely insane. This madness needs to stop before it becomes the new model.

WSDOT - please fire those of you who decided this was a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Wow so the Rich already get many tax breaks while the rest of us struggle now you give them there own lane to drive in!! After all the middle class and less fortunate do not have the extra funds to be so privileged! WOW!!!!

Anonymous said...

You all knew this would happen but decided to ignore the studies.

See link:

Seriously - did ya ever think that this might not be the nest idea? The traffic for the afternoon commute is already bad...can't imagine what it will be like in 2 hours.

Epic Fail.

Anonymous said...

everyone should contact your state senator and state rep ,and ask them to question WSDOT and make some changes.
this link help you to find your state senator and rep , and please send them email.

or we can ask WSDOT staffs to look at the drawing lanes in some in/out toll lanes , they are wasting too much spaces and create narrow lanes for those non-toll lanes, bottle neck are in those sections and caused huge traffic
WSDOT please spend sometimes in the morning commute on non toll lanes and see how suffering we are now

Anonymous said...

It's not about moving people around the area, rather, it's about adjusting the attitudes of the people. That has always been the goal. And you've done that very well as far as the I405 traffic is concerned. Now, we need the government to bring this expertise to all other areas of our lives, might I recommend we tackle the environment with a few draconian global warming programs of equal weight?

Anonymous said...

Oddly this real time blog seems to be all about us complaining about the toll lanes and lack of GP lanes.. no replies from WSDOT. Now all the luxury vehicles have their own lanes leaving the beaters to inch along. Being king is good. Time to give up your Latte habit and donate to the Guv!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with all the comments above. As predicted by those that travel the route (as opposed that look at flawed data and reports in Olympia and don't have to endure this catastrophe), the plan is a complete failure. Massive traffic jams and 2 cars in the 'HOV' / toll lanes.

I'd like to know what the fallback plan is? Oh yea, it's government - when something doesn't work, through another $500 million at it to see if it helps (if not, throw another $1 billion at it). Wash, rinse, repeat.

Northern Critic said...

The 405 toll lane project is just another example of the State bureaucracy's vir of the citizenry as an unlimited revenue pool. They do not send us, we service them. They see their function as figuring out how to come up with increasingly intrusive ways to raise revenue. Charging the public to drive on highways that are built and paid for is wrong. II won't pay. I urge all of you to boycott the toll lanes. If enough of us vir with our wallets, this idiocy will fail and be reversed. As it is, they want to wait until we Chris accustomed to it and allow this to become the new normal.

Anonymous said...

Is there some kind of app or online site that will tell you what the Dynamic toll rates are in realtime? 167 and 405.

Anonymous said...

Question - If I need to exit on NE 70th, NE 85th, is there exit point from the toll lane?

Go aWAY said...

What problems have occurred for drivers entering the I 405 from the SR 522? I think that you will find a significant number of complaints from people transiting from SR 522 to I 405 who cannot make it to the first HOV entrance point because there are too many lanes to cross, and too much fast traffic to cross against, in the length of highway available. At which point, you just have to stay in the creeping lanes.

If anyone from WSDOT is monitoring that situation, or if any of hoi polloi have noted problems, please post comments

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm in agreement with everyone, it wasn't so bad at 6AM, but coming home at 3:00 was just stupid! I just want to know, because I can't find it addressed anywhere, can one person pay to use the lanes? I don't see anything other than 3+, or 2+, if I have an emergency and need to get someplace between Kirkland and Bellevue, can I ever use the stupid lanes or is that a ticket? And, really, why doesn't it say in simple language the minimum number of people needed to use the lanes? I am constantly amazed at the stupid things WA State gov does,what happened to common sense!

Anonymous said...

Well, looks like most people agree, this was a HUGE waste of tax payer money. This morning, the 2 toll lanes were almost WIDE OPEN, while everyone sits at a stand still in the working class lanes.

It's hard to imagine that WSDOT thought this was anything but another way to extort money from us. While I type this, I'm waiting for traffic to get better so I can go home and not have to sit at a stand still on the 405. Oh, it's 7 pm and still traffic?? Great job WSDOT, I'm sure all 14 people who will pay up for the extra toll lane are really happy now.

Seriously, this might be the worst decision I've witnessed WSDOT make, and there are plenty of others to choose from. I'm thankful my tax dollars go to help the wealthy!

Awful decision...just awful.

Anonymous said...

I would like to give a sincere thanks to WSDOT. Today was the best afternoon commute I have had in ages and I used the GP lanes all the way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you WSDOT for saving me so much time today. I used the I-405 Express Toll Lane and was able to cut my normal 1+hr each way commute down to less than 25 minutes each way for only $0.75. I do feel sorry for all the people that wasted their time in the general purpose lanes while they could have just gotten into the ETL and saved an hour or more of their time. Seems kinda foolish to me. I hope everyone keeps complaining and stays in the GP lane so I can keep driving faster for next to nothing.

Keep up the good work WSDOT!!!!

Unknown said...

This program is the stupidest one that has hit the area since the stupid tunnel that will never be completed. Not only does it push more cars into the general purpose lanes that are already jammed, but it prevents cars that are loaded with people from using the lanes for the simple reason that they don't possess a "good to go" pass. This has NOTHING to do with traffic flow, and everything to do with money-grabbing under the false idea that it's "helping " something. Didn't they learn from the 167 toll-lanes? - Total Failure ! Like it or not, there are a lot of people that need to get places! MORE FLOW = PROGRESS

Anonymous said...

Call your legislative representatives and tell them to stop this madness. We are getting an initiative put together. It is called "Real Lanes for Real People". The Washington state transportation needs to be disbanded for coming up with this toll lane project that is ruining our quality of life!

Anonymous said...

I love how WSDOT keeps touting $.75 and $1.50 as how much people had to pay to use the lanes. They try to make it sound cheap. The reality is this. Soon as more use the lanes the cost will go up. Let's assume the average during peak commute is $3 to travel Lynnwood to Bellevue or the other way around. You work 5 days a week 49 weeks a year (245 working days). That's an added cost of at least $1470 in tolls. Holy .....

Wow Washington you guys really screwed this up. I'm glad I got out just before these toll lanes went live. How about this. Give the working people the two extra lanes for the entire corridor they were promised in the I 405 master plan. Instead you abysmal people add one lane between ne 6th and 160th and converted the existing hov to a toll lane? I think the people in King county would've preferred you take them to lunch first before you screwed them. You LIED to the public and now you're forcing them to give you money for a faster trip.

I have nothing against toll roads. Just don't force people to use them. Put in a brand new toll road through the valley between mill creek and lake sammamish there's a thought . Then people have an option to use an exclusively tolled road that's truly reliable. No silly merging and entrance and exit points. Come on guys. Really?!

Anonymous said...

You took an existing lane and started charging people to use it. Extortion.

Anonymous said...

We will gather enough signatures to repeal this toll.

Anonymous said...

Please consider allowing entry outside of the designated areas where there is only one express lane further north of 405, as long as a driver can enter safely. Given the long gap between entry points one, two and three, there are many drivers who want to be able to use the express lanes but cannot do so, particularly prior to and at the 522 interchange.

Anonymous said...

I just sent a letter to my state senator and representatives asking them to take WSDOT to task. Not once in the months of vocal public opposition have I heard WSDOT acknowledge that these toll lanes will make things worse, when it is COMMON SENSE that they will. We cannot and should not tolerate an organization whose decisions do not serve the public good. Please contact your state representatives too.
And did you know, 3 of 4 toll dollars collected go straight to the company who installed and operated the equipment. WSDOT predicts they will collect $10 Million in tolls per year. Of this $7.5 million goes to the company operating it.

Anonymous said...

I love how WSDOT keeps filtering my comment, even though it meets all the requirements of their "blog use policy"....Washington State Drivers obviously don't get to know the truth about how they are being scammed every which way with this I-405 tolling....don't worry, the truth will get out and I agree this toll will be repealed by the people...

Anonymous said...

WSDOT spent 155 millions dollars tax payers and advertised that the project will reduce traffic congestion on 405.
it took me 70' to get to Bellevue from Lynwood
one of the reasons that creates more traffic now after toll lanes open, that is non-toll lanes are now narrower than before , that make drivers more cautious and drive slower and caused traffic jammed up.
for example: if you travel to south 405 ,one mile before SR 520, spaces are wide open , but WSDOT uses too much spaces for entry/exit section, they put 3 non-toll lanes in a very small spaces , that is bottle neck right there. as the same with 160th to 85th section, they waste too much spaces for double white strips and shoulder, they put "cheap" and poor drivers into...very tight lanes,
does any one know who is project manager for this project ?
Every one should contact your district legislator to raise your voice, ask them to question this unwisely project
every one knows who organize to protest this project please post here, I will make sure ask 10 other to join the protest with WSDOT

Anonymous said...

Perused the entire DOT website & for information, then spent 47 minutes waiting on hold (finally gave up) with DOT to get an answer to a simple question: what about those folks that have vehicles with a maximum 2-person occupancy? (read: 2 seatbelts; such as SmartCars, trucks, sports cars...). Nothing about this on the entire DOT website. I note that Motorcycles are exempted, so what about the aforementioned? I Emailed DOT & got a form email back, directing me to a page that provides zero information. This endeavour fails abysmally in the arena of unintended outcomes, one of which is congestion produces more vehicle pollution...Oh how I enjoy incompetence & lack of analysis!

Anonymous said...

Who was the genius who came up with this idea to rob from the middle class stuck in the slow lanes and provide wide open lanes for the privileged. The leadership at WSDOT is incompetent. You haven't actually solved any problems, you've just shifted the problem to those who can't afford an extra $1000 per month. I see your stupid adds on TV with people floating by in office chairs. Who is smoking the weed? I sincerely hope that the Initiative process will come to our rescue. I also encourage people to figure out who is responsible for this and who supports it in Olympia and make sure they do not get re-elected. We are simply wasting money on this project and shipping it out of state for no real benefit.

Another question, why can't we get some real transportation alternatives with this money we are wasting? What about light rail on the 405 and 167 corridor? Something that might make a real difference, instead of more stupidity.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for your question. The toll rates on the I-405 express toll lanes and SR 167 HOT lanes update based on traffic conditions every five minutes. We are not posting the rates online anywhere. Your best bet to get a feel for traffic conditions would be to check the WSDOT cameras in the morning, some of which show the live toll rate signs.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for your question. There are two direct access ramps that connect directly to/from the I-405 express toll lanes. They are at NE 6th St and at NE 128th St.

WSDOT said...

A single-occupant vehicle can use the I-405 express toll lanes and pay a toll. If you don’t have a Good To Go! account, you will be sent a bill in the mail. You won’t get a ticket in the mail simply for using the lanes by yourself. Thanks!

Cu Bong said...

I don't oppose the toll lanes, but is there any chance that WSDOT will look at the drawing lanes from those sections entry/exit from South bound I-405 , lanes for non-toll lanes are narrower than before but spaces are waste too much for non-sense area
please kindly reply

savemyheart said...

I just want to say i LOVE the ETLs!!! Yesterday I was slightly confused as to how the tolls worked and when you could enter and exit so I delayed my morning commute and used the GP lanes after 10 AM which were still a little congested.. really congested for that time of day but I chopped it up to people doing what I was doing, coming in late. Tuesdays are the WORST traffic days during the week regardless of weather or accidents This morning Google Maps estimated my commute from Lake Stevens to Factoria (my daily drive) at 1 hour 43 minutes. I reluctantly waited in line to get on the hwy 2 trestle because I also noticed yesterday that getting from 522 into the ETLs seemed impossible but once I was on it 45 minutes!!! I saved an hour of time for .75. I am pretty sure that I also saved .75 in gas not sitting idling on the freeway for an extra hour!! I love the ETLs and I hope that they are never as congested as the GPLs because cutting my commute in half is awesome!!!!

Anonymous said...

Now my commute takes twice as long, you're stealing time from all of the commuters and selling it to a few. How is this a good thing? If it's not broken, don't fix it.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about a couple things. So the 405 traffic today and yesterday was caused by accidents on I-5? Contributing factor? Sure. Significant contributing factor, not a chance. Now Ethan, you're thanking us for our patience. That's very kind of you. However that statement would normally be followed by a "while we are working on.." or "while we are fixing.." or "while we are creating more...". Instead, you're thanking us for our patience for nothing! The work is done and has created more problems than it solved!

We are already paying for the roadway in MANY different taxes. Now we have to pay more to get out of a problem that was created by the organization receiving the money? If this was a commercial enterprise, it would be considered racketeering (creating a solution to a problem falsely created - or in this case, enhanced).

WSDOT said...

The carpool occupancy requirement set by the Washington State Transportation Commission for the I-405 express toll lanes is based on how many people are in a vehicle, not the vehicle’s carrying capacity. Two seater cars with two people are not allowed to carpool toll-free during the peak commute times (5-9am and 3-7pm, weekdays), even with a Flex Pass set to HOV mode.

Anonymous said...

Again the WSDOT shows how little intelligence they have. This is a disaster and has been a huge waste for taxpayers. All of the traffic is hitting the side arterials school buses are now showing up late to school, metro buses are late on their routes, but the good news is they made $8 for the two HOV lane users. Smart.

E. Nicholson said...

I just sent the following note to my district representatives and state senator.

"Thank You: I-405 Express Toll Lanes!

I am a commuter on I-405 between Bothell and Bellevue. I normally ride the bus. In the last two years that I have been riding the bus, my bus has been stuck in traffic in the HOV lanes every day wasting 30 to 60 minutes of my time per day because the HOV lanes were overcrowded and were not working. With the start of the Express Toll Lanes (ETLs) my bus now can travel at the speed limit for the entire trip meaning that the bus runs on time and I get 5 hrs per week back to do whatever I want at home.

In addition, I'm not able to choose to get to work faster if I need to drive. This is very helpful for me as my wife is currently pregnant with our first child and having the option to pay the toll and get home in a reasonable amount of time if I drive will be very valuable once her due date gets closer.

Please pass along my gratitude to WSDOT for their hard work in researching this option and making it happen."

Anonymous said...

It would be very helpful to have some way to know what the current toll is besides seeing it on the sign. Really wish the app would have the current rate so I could decide my route home before getting one the road!

Mike said...

I am a commuter on I-405 between Woodinville to Bellevue. I don't know who figured out the entry and exit points but they are absolutely crazy. There is something really wrong when we have to sit in stopped traffic and travel over a mile before we can get into the HOV lanes. Example, we get onto 405 south bound from 522 (a major access point to 405), we are stuck in stand still traffic for over a mile until we pass the 160th ave overpass.

Of course the HOV lanes are moving much faster, that's because no one can reasonably get into them. My normal commute went from 22 minutes to about 35 minutes. Wow, someone should feel like they accomplished something with this project but it is not helping the majority of the 405 users. The same issue exists getting on 405 north bound from Ne 85th in Kirkland.

Please do something about access points to help traffic not hinder it.

Anonymous said...

This toll lane project is one of the dumbest in recent memory. I am disgusted that the Washington Transportation Commission does not listen to the publics needs or what they want. As our government should listen to what the people want and we don't want these toll lanes. Everyone needs to call there representatives and stop this madness. I have sent an Initiative to Tim Eyman called "real lanes for Real people". Hopefully soon the people of this great state will be able to vote this out in the near future.

Anonymous said...

The only issue I have with the Toll Lanes are the exit/entry points. Having to sit in the backup until I reach my entry point is frustrating. How were these entry/exit points determined? Yes, once we enter the TOLL lanes, we move, but it hasn't saved us much time because of this.

Please explain/discuss if trailers can now be in the Toll lanes - there used to be restrictions on that based on weight I believe. I've seen nothing discussed about this. Thank you

Dana Williams said...

You did it for the money ... and when people get used to it you will raise the cost... you did no one a favor except yourselves wsdot congrats

WSDOT said...

Thanks for your question. The toll rates on the I-405 express toll lanes update based on traffic conditions every five minutes. We are not posting the rates online anywhere. Your best bet to get a feel for traffic conditions would be to check the WSDOT cameras, some of which show the live toll rate signs.

WSDOT said...

Thanks for your question regarding allowable weight in the I-405 express toll lanes. The lanes are available to vehicles under 10,000 gross vehicle weight (GVW).

Cu Bong said...

The rate is changed unexpectedly , for example at the time I entered on ETLs from I-5 with initial price is $2.75 to travel to 6th Bellevue, however when I arrived to Canyon park it is down to $1.75, my wife departed after me 5' and get to pay only $1.75 to the same distance to Bellevue . Am I being charge for $2.75 or $1.75 , the price was changed when was in the middle of section? please advise, thanks

Phil said...

Does this mean it takes 10 minutes in the toll lanes???? Who wrote this, Hillary?

"Update 7:15 a.m., Wednesday Sept 30: We're seeing normal commute times on southbound I-405 from Lynnwood to Bellevue in the GP lanes - that's around 40 minutes. The express toll lanes will [s]ave you about 30 minutes..."

WSDOT said...

Hello Go aWAY –
Thanks for your questions. WSDOT factored in many issues when locating and designing the access points including:

. Making sure there is adequate room to safely weave between the access point and interchange ramps
. Symmetry in the northbound and southbound directions if possible
. Accommodating the highest number of trips between locations
. Making sure the access point length is long enough to allow for safe movement in an out the ETLs
. Minimizing conflicting weaving volumes when possible

We will be monitoring traffic in and out of the access points closely, and we are prepared to make changes if it becomes apparent they are needed. The location of the access point south of SR 522 is designed to accommodate a high volume of cars that have to merge to the left across three lanes to enter the express toll lanes. Locating the access point at NE 160th allows drivers the time to make those movements. When traffic is heavy, drivers may not need the additional time; however, if a driver was traveling at the posted speed of 60 miles an hour, the extra time would be needed to safely merge to the left.

WSDOT understands that the SR 522 and NE 160th interchanges are critical to the I-405 system. As part of the I-405 express toll lanes project, WSDOT built the new Bothell braided ramps to alleviate congestion on northbound I-405. WSDOT also built two access points on southbound I-405 at NE 160th to accommodate the high volume of drivers entering I-405 from Bothell and SR 522. The long range plan for I-405 does include building a direct access ramp from SR 522 to I-405, but at this time that project is not funded.

WSDOT said...

Phil- Thanks for your comment and thanks for catching that. The “will save you 30 minutes” text should have said “20 minutes”. Just a typo, sorry about that! We’re fixing the blog text, as well.

WSDOT said...

Hello Cu Bong-
Thanks for your question. The price you see upon entering the express toll lanes is the price you will pay. If you saw $2.75 when you entered the lanes, you will pay $2.75. The price does change every five minutes and changes based on traffic conditions in the express toll lanes.

Lee said...

Thanks for addressing! There needs to be an entry point northbound of 160th given the volume (there is a park and ride there). Waiting until SR527 is too long. Same for southbound to 160th... the only exit point is right after SR527 which leaves a long wait in the two lane backup contributing to even more congestion on this hopelessly congested section (that needs an additional lane we are not getting even though we are paying a toll now).

WSDOT said...

E. Nicholson- Thanks for your positive feedback! We are so glad to hear that you are enjoying a faster commute on your bus, and that these new lanes will greatly accommodate you and your wife. If you would like to give us any additional feedback, please contact us at

WSDOT said...

Hello Cu Bong-
Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. As with any big changes to the roadway, it will take time for drivers to get used to the new express toll lanes (ETL) system. However, we are actively monitoring the new striping to observe how drivers use the new system and is prepared to make adjustments quickly if it becomes apparent that they are needed.

We would like to assure you that we factored in many issues when locating and designing the new access points you mention including:
•  Making sure there is adequate room to safely weave between the access point and interchange ramps
•  Symmetry in the northbound and southbound directions if possible
•  Accommodating the highest number of trips between locations
•  Making sure the access point length is long enough to allow for safe movement in an out the ETLs
•  Minimizing conflicting weaving volumes when possible

This is a big change for drivers, and we expect that the first several commutes will be slower than usual. Over time, drivers will get comfortable with this system, and the highway will begin to operate more efficiently in both the ETLs and the regular lanes. When ETLs were introduced in Miami, average speeds in the HOV lane more than tripled during peak afternoon periods. At the same time, average speeds in the general purpose lanes more than doubled. The result of the I-405 ETL system will be a corridor that moves more vehicles and people more efficiently. We appreciate your patience during this adjustment period.

Richard Law said...

When truly calculating the impact of this change for commuters it makes NO sense to just look at drive times on 405 -- you HAVE to take into account any changes to people's OVERALL commute. In my case, having the surface streets gridlocked due to people attempting to get to a direct access point for the HOV lanes ADDED 25+ minutes to my commute and I'm a carpooler. I strongly believe that this experiment is going to be a significant net negative for a LOT of people.

Fawzi said...

I am a commuter on I-405 between Kenmore and Bellevue. I have been doing this for the past 13 years. This is by far is the dumbest idea. my daily commute was 30-45 minutes at most. After opening the I-405 Express Toll Lanes it is taking me 50-60 minutes for the past 4 days. This plan is a complete failure and west of taxpayer money.

Frnkhsr said...

I would be interested to know if Hwy 9 is being watched for effect of the toll lanes. My husband and I have carpooled 12 + years and cannot take on a 3rd from Lake Stevens to Kirkland/Totem Lake. We are extremely frustrated and very reluctant to pay anymore nor can afford to pay tolls. We used to travel across trestle and down Hwy5 to the 405 as it was much faster then going Hwy9 since we were able to use the HOV lane. Now we are traveling on Hwy 9, leaving 20 minutes earlier..5:30 am and we have seen an increase in traffic. We go thru Woodinville and the kingsgate area now to get to Evergreen hospital, the back roads to avoid toll. Have noticed increase of surface street traffic. When we left totem lake around 4pm to head north we decided to try the 405, took us 30 min more to get home and sitting in traffic I would say 80% of the cars passing us in the toll lanes were single car drivers. I would not call that very effective use of the lane while us peon's that cant afford one more fee or tax added to our already overburdened pocketbook, Please reconsider 2+ not 3+. In the meantime I will be calling legislatures and hope this can be stopped!

Lee said...

"Still Normal" on GP lanes means they are still at a standstill. Of course the throughput is the same, it's because it was nearly a standstill before the express toll lanes went into effect.

Lee said...

Great point! I used to carpool from SR527 to 160th St. I can no longer access the HOV/HOT lane since there is no exit for 160th st! I now need to re-route to SR524 to Hwy 9 to SR522 to 160th St.! I expect others need to do the same thing now!

Cu Bong said...

-I have seen many drivers on the southbound 405 crossed the double white lines to exit to SR-522 ( to woodinvill/wenatche and Bothell), I think they missed the entry/exit section at 195th, or they decided to stay closer to the exit because traffic in GPL are so bad , will there be another exit/entry lanes on this section?
- The exit/entry section on Southbound 405 at 85th /70th exit is very simple and don't take up extra space from GPLanes. why don't we do the same at exit/entry point from SR-520 and SR-522 section, by doing this, that would create more space and avoid bottle neck in this area.

WSDOT said...

Hello Frnkhsr. Thank you for your feedback. As with any big changes to the roadway, it will take time for drivers to get used to the new express toll lanes system and its impact on their commute. However, we are actively monitoring the new system as well as the nearby roadways for any diversion or other impacts and are prepared to make adjustments if it becomes apparent that they are needed.

Lee said...

Completely agree and saw this being a problem. I have also seen many people not only cross the double white when they realize there is no exit for 160th, but then have to quickly fly across five lanes of traffic to make the exit! Very dangerous! Have any of the accidents this week been caused by any of these lane dodgers? The frequent heavy traffic between SR527 and 160th will make it very tempting for people to get in the Express lane after SR527 knowing they will have to cross the double line illegally to exit SR522 or 160th. An exit there is sorely needed (and vice versa, entrance on the NB side after 160th).

vpn woodside said...

I have been carpooling with one of my colleagues all the time. Now only motorists or cars with 3+ people are eligible to use HOV. This is unfair to us. It's very rare to define HOV as 3+ person vehicle in this country. I also have noticed that the new hot lanes are used much less than what it used to be; and the traffic on the regular lanes are getting worse. This is a waste of our taxpayers money.

Ballardbeaver said...

I understand this is the American Way: Those with the money get the benefits. But I have been paying gas tax for years, so doesn't my money count any more? My 2-person car pool now isn't good enough during rush hour. I am against these "Lexus" lanes and will do my utmost to avoid them. I hope others feel this way, too.

Eugene Chudin said...

Great job WSDOT, you have made our I-405 traffic as bad as traffic on I-405 in Los Angeles. The ramp from SR 520 to I-405 now looks like a parking lot even after 7pm. If the goal was to make lives of Eastside drivers miserable and increase emissions of CO2 then I congratulate you on a job well done!

Cu Bong said...

My observations on Southbound 405 at exit/entry point o SR-520 are :
- It takes up too much waste spaces and unintentional create a very narrow lanes for GPL, that is bottle neck at this section, this section has never been heavy stop and run before, after this exit/entry section open , people are driving slower in this section due to lanes are now narrower and going up the hill
-why don't we do just do as simple as exit/entry section at 85th and 70th section, this section doesn't take much space at exit point to 520,
-if you use aerospace camera you will see how the drivers are squeeze in narrow lanes to travel through this section , because of this the traffic drag down to Kirkland
- just do simple with dash lines , giving more spaces for GPLs and avoid the bottle neck at this section

ZenCat said...


Avoid using the I-405 toll lanes at all costs. If there is a profit generated by this despicable concept you can be sure I-5 will be next. The only way to prevent this greed driven plague from infecting I-5 is to keep this lane empty and unprofitable. Prove to the money grubbing individuals behind this plan that they made a mistake and wasted our tax dollars on a failed concept.

Carolina Freeman said...

I got my FLexPass like I was supposed to, activated it and linked it to my account, placed it on my car, and made sure to read all the instructions. Went on about my life with 3 people in the car, and used the HOV (like every weekday), and I was happily surprised to see how much better my commute was! Except I see now that I was charged $0.75 on Tuesday... not on Monday, not on Wednesday or Thursday. I have also been charged a bunch of $0.25 because the equipment sometimes can't read the sticker I have in our other family car when crossing 520. This does not happen all the time, just whenever the thing decides not to do its job. The equipment does not always work properly and they refuse to refund any of the costs even though it is their equipment's issue. They overcharged me by about $6 now. I am guessing not everyone looks closely at their accounts. Sure, $6 is not much, but it is MY $6! If they keep that amount from everyone, imagine the income stream. This is a complete racket! Makes me furious!

Mc Ph said...

Nice job turning i405 into a parking lot.
Almost caused multiple accidents.
Kudos on a job WELL DONE!
I will avoid 405 at all costs, I guess this is one way to reduce congestion, rendering the road useless..
LEAVE i5 alone!..
If you grand plane is to increase the use of public transportation and remove peoples freedoms, you have succeeded!

Natasha said...

I am a single woman working two full time jobs regularly commuting from Everett to Bellevue and Redmond. I earn far below the poverty level and I already spend a fortune on gas. What used to be an expected inconvenience in the case of an accident or bad weather is now a dreaded traffic nightmare on a daily basis; what used to take me 30-40 minutes now takes me 50-60 minutes, even well beyond the usual rush hour.

Whose brilliant idea was it to increase the carpool minimum to 3 persons during peak hours? It is difficult enough to find one person to coordinate and carpool with, let alone two. Now, vehicles with two people (previously enough to use the carpool lanes and keep traffic moving) sit with the severely congested GP lanes during rush hours while the toll lanes remain empty. DISGUSTING.

Even well after the typical rush hour windows, traffic remains bottle necked and congested. Even after 7:30 p.m. it takes me forever to get home!!!

The I-405 express toll lane live updates blog makes my blood absolutely boil. "Hope you all have a safe trip home, and consider using the express toll lanes to make it to the weekend just a little bit sooner." This is sick, WSDOT. SICK.

So, despite these positively awful traffic conditions, I will refuse to use the tolls. Just admit this project was a serious waste of time and money, and GET RID OF THESE TOLLS -- or are you truly oblivious to the real life, negative impact these tolls are having on hard working commuters?

WSDOT said...

Hello vpn woodside:
Prior to the express toll lanes opening, no one had a reliable trip on I-405 no matter which lane they chose, including the HOV lane with a 2+ occupancy requirement. A three-passenger carpool requirement will provide a faster and more reliable trip for drivers opting to use express toll lanes during peak hours, moving at 45 mph 90 percent of the time. As traffic moves more quickly in the express toll lanes, the regular lanes will experience less congestion. This is a big change for drivers, and we expect that the first several commutes to be a learning process. Over time, drivers will get comfortable with this system, and the highway will begin to operate more efficiently in both the express toll lanes and the regular lanes.

WSDOT said...

Cu Bong:

Thank you for your comment. We are monitoring the roadway and driver feedback, and will implement a solution if needed.

WSDOT said...

Hello Carolina Freeman -
Sorry to hear about your frustrations. I would highly recommend taking your vehicle(s) into one of our customer service centers to have your passes checked for two reasons. One, to ensure they are reading properly and two, to ensure they are installed in the most optimal location. If one or both of your passes are not reading correctly, we will replace it for you. We want to make sure you are getting the correct toll or free trip accurately, each time.

working class said...

we become to the world that privileged people can buy best service on almost everything, even public road!

if you are a working class, your time, your energy, you struggle, your opinion all means nothing to the government.

Peter said...

WSDOT, you keep saying that by turning the car pool lane into 3 passenger the "regular lanes will experience less congestion" . This is mathematically impossible. Just look at queuing theory. By having more cars forced into the remaining regular lanes congestion will go up. This is exactly the experience of the everyday driver. From California i405 experience we know that it takes a car volume increase of 5% for a lane to go from from relatively free flowing traffic to strong congestion. Meaning there is a sharp falloff when you hit a certain car density threshold. Your new lexus lanes represent between 20 and 40% of the roadway. You should at least test the reverse to prove that it doesn't work. Open up all lanes to everyone and gather the data. Gather the data on these roads, not some other freeway in another state where conditions are different.

BTW the congestion issue is very similar to packet traffic network engineers deal with all the time on the internet. They will all tell you that Quality of Service (which is what you are going in this case) only guarantees traffic improvement for the few and for bursts traffic at the cost of the remaining packets. Why do you think bandwidth is always being increased from 10meg to 100meg to a 1Gig to 10Gig to 40Gig. Go back and run your desktops and servers on 10meg and apply all the QOS you like. I'm pretty sure you will not be happy with the results.

Best Regards,

MagnuM said...

The double express lanes are starting to be used a lot more day by day. I'm a daily commuter that uses a Vanpool both ways and it is pretty visible that more and more people are using those lanes.

I do have a couple of suggestions here, since this big change is obviously a far from perfect solution.

1. To make the life of the "2+" passenger cars easier, why don't you guys transform one of the lanes in "2+ with FlexPass" and keep only the most left one for "3+ with Flex Pass". This way, the 2+ people would have a change to commute a little faster than the single drivers (who will still have the chance of paying to use any of the lanes if needed). Not to mention that the buses will still commute faster on the 3+ lane, even if the 2+ lane will be crowded.

2. Please, please, please make a plan to build a carpool only ramp (2+) from 520 to I405 (both ways). That would really help reduce the huge lines on the ramps and would ease the access to the Express lane from people commuting to and from Seattle.

Maybe someone should start a petition about this ramp, if there are no plans for it.

Scott Surber said...

After you posted:
Don't forget that 2 person carpools can use the express toll lanes for free with a Flex Pass all weekend long.

Why were the ETL, northbound and southbound, signed for "HOV 3+ FREE W/ FLEX PASS" on Sunday the 11th?

WSDOT said...

Cu Bong,
Thank you for sharing your observations and concerns. Our project engineers used traffic data and analysis to design safe and efficient access points for the new I-405 express toll lanes. Between 520 and NE 70th Street, we expect that drivers heading northbound will move into the express toll lanes and drivers heading southbound will move out of the express toll lanes. Because of that, we installed a weave lane in this area to help higher volumes of traffic adjust their speeds to allow safe and efficient exits. What you see as a bottleneck, ensures safety as drivers exit the express toll lanes.

Additionally, weave lanes are designed by expected traffic patterns instead of available space. For example, on northbound I-405 between at NE 85th, we expect traffic volumes to equally enter in to the express toll lanes and exit to 116th/124th/Totem Lake. Because of that, we need longer access points and more space, so vehicles entering and exiting the express toll lanes don’t impact traffic flow. The access points currently look different and are in different locations because we’ve matched the appropriate design with the appropriate traffic flow.

As with any big changes to the roadway, it will take time for drivers to get used to the new system and adjust. However, WSDOT is actively monitoring the new striping to observe how drivers use the new system and is prepared to make adjustments quickly if it becomes apparent that they are needed.

Bob said...

Is it true that 75% of all the tolls collected going to a company in Texas? How does making a Texas company rich help us improve our roads? If the goal is to privatize/profiteer our roads for corporate America, can't we at least let a Washington company get rich?

On a another note, the entry points into and out of the lanes are too far away from the on/off ramps; if we're expected to pay, then at least make it possible to get into them immediately after getting on 405, and exit them right before the off-ramp. For example, put the southbound NE 8th/4th Street exit from the express lanes after (or over) 520 - not 2 miles north of it. Align the access points based on ramps (the way people travel) - not where it was cheap to put tolling equipment!

-- or eliminate the fine for crossing the double line when exiting / entering the lanes (unless it is done to explicitly circumvent the tolling equipment)

WSDOT said...

Thank you for submitting your suggestions to improve I-405 express toll lanes. We understand that the new system involves some big changes for drivers in the Puget Sound area so we appreciate feedback on how drivers are adjusting to the system. Your comments will surely be passed along to our project team. We are actively working to fix the worst traffic problems and create an efficient, reliable transportation system on I-405.

WSDOT said...

Scott – Unfortunately we experienced a glitch in the tolling system over the weekend that kept HOV requirements at 3+ as they are in peak hours, rather than 2+ as they should be during off peak hours and weekends. The issue has since been resolved and customers impacted by the mistake will be refunded the tolls they were charged. We encourage those who were incorrectly charged to call Good To Go! Customer Service to be reimbursed.

WSDOT said...

No, that is not true. 65 percent of the tolls collected go to maintenance and operations of the I-405 express toll lane system. The vendors used for tolling are the few and sometimes only businesses providing toll services in the country. Most of the vendors that support tolling have home offices in other locations, and base their employees in Washington. A third of the vendor work is performed by Schneider Electric located in Rockville, Maryland (6 employees in the Seattle area).

In regards to toll lane access points, WSDOT factored in many issues when locating and designing the access points, including making sure there was enough room for drivers to safely weave between access points and interchanging ramps. We will continue to actively monitor traffic and are prepared to make adjustments if necessary.

Cu Bong said...

-in the last 2 weeks ,85th and 70th exit/entry point from 405 southbound has proved that there is NO NEED to have a weave lanes, just dashes lines , that help GPLs in this stretch no longer jam up as before , because traffic is lighter in this section so that make drivers easier and safer when exit.
-the weave in SR-520 exit/entry point isn't wisely planned though. it is taking too much spaces ( not counting wide open shoulder for emergency purpose) and unintentionally created this stretch more heavy traffic than before due to created bottleneck of narrower lanes while more cars tends to be merge to right to exit to SR-520, It happened to me more than 3 times lately when I was trying to exit this access point and drivers in GPLs were intentionally blocked or prevented my car to exit to GPL, drivers in GPLs can easily to do that because they were stuck in traffic and getting mad those drivers from ETLs cut off in front of them.
-from the stretch of SR-522 to I-5 from 7:30 -8 :00 AM (southbound) and 5:15 -5:45 PM ( northbound ) , sometime the lane was failed to commit 45mph , there are sill a lot of spaces to do 2 ETL, that would encourage more drivers to use ETLs, why shouldn't we do 2 lanes for each direction.
-Wisely to apply double white lines and dash lines how to use it more effectively , that would more flow and help to reduce the congestion.

Joe Thaworntaweewong said...

I don't have time to read all the posts to see if a similar post have been there or not. But I truly think that the express lanes are making things worst, at least for people like me who only use 405 on to Lynwood on weekends. In the past few weekends, my family and I have been very frustrated with the traffic on 405 on Sundays. This did not happen before the express lanes. We don't have the flex pass yet and could not use the express lanes. Why do you have to collect toll on non-rush hours, such as weekends anyway. And why do you have to have 2 express lanes, when very few people are able to use on weekends. It's like WSDOT is trying to leap all the money it can get its hands to without a shred of consideration for the suffering of the majority of the taxpayers who use the road.

Even if If had the free flex pass, I still have to open a Good to go account and deposit $30, of which I will never use. This is like WSDOT is taking my $30 hostage for their own benefit and leaves only bad experience for me. I have no use for Good to go account and yet I have to part with my $30 use to use the FREE Flex pass!!! Highway robbery, I would say.

The express lanes should be removed entirely on weekends and go back to the old HOV lane, or at least reduce to just 1 lane!!!

Something need to be done!!!

alexnotoll said...

halttollinkirkland said...

WSDOT said...

halttollinkirkland said...

reply at to show that we do live in democratic and civil community. let's raise together our voice to stop experimenting on our families!!!!

Emily Pace said...

@Joe Appreciate your feedback. We have seen some longer travel times on the weekends. We anticipate it will take 6-months to a year for drivers to adjust and learn the ins and outs of express toll lanes. We expect that weekend commuters may be different than the weekday commuters so they may not use I-405 as often and may not be as familiar yet with the changes as regular commuters who may use I-405 every day. Weekend folks are able to use the express toll lanes even as single driver you can pay a toll to use the lanes on a weekend and you don’t need a Flex Pass, any existing Good To Go! pass will work or you can choose to Pay By Mail. We will monitor closely how traffic is adjusting and expect volumes in the express toll lanes to increase over time as drivers adjust. It’s important to keep in mind that weather and collisions may impact traffic on a daily basis. Express toll lanes are a traffic management tool and we even see slowdowns sometimes on the weekends. The two express toll lanes between Bellevue and Bothell were needed to accommodate the heavier traffic volumes in that section. To activate the Flex Pass, drivers will need to set up a Good To Go! account, which does require a refundable $30 deposit. This is to cover the payments of future tolls on any toll road in Washington and will be returned to the customer if they do not use it. This deposit allows drivers to pay the lowest toll rates if they decide to use the express toll lanes when not in a carpool or need to use another toll road at any time. At any time if you close your account you can get a full refund.

WSDOT Toll Division said...

Hi halttollinkirkland – We’re beginning our fourth week of the new express toll lanes system, and I understand your frustration with the new toll system and traffic during this adjustment period. Experience with other express toll lane locations across the country shows it takes 6 months to a year for drivers to settle in and adjust to the new lanes.

While every community is different, express toll lanes provide similar benefits for people who ride transit, carpool, vanpool and drive alone. With the I-95 example in Miami, before the express lanes, rush hour traffic crawled along at 16 mph in all lanes. After launch, speeds increased up to 41 mph in the general purpose lanes and 56 mph in the express toll lanes. In a west coast example, San Diego implemented express toll lanes in 1996. Only a quarter of drivers approved of the idea before launch, however, a 2002 follow up poll showed that over half of drivers supported the express toll lanes after launch when they experience the benefits.

howardg said...

A possible solution: Why not ditch the cameras and 4x white lines, and have two carpool lanes. During peak times, the first could function like the old two person lane, the second could be a 3 person carpool/bus lane. And cars could get into and out of the lanes whenever they wanted to. The balance of the time, all the lanes could be open to everyone. Or some version of this.

I am probably assuming that others see the world like I do. I know that I hate being regulated any more than is necessary. It feels like a lack of freedom. I assume that others might feel this way too. I like simpler, less restrictive, less punitive, less expensive solutions.

If this system really made driving much better at peak times, all of the ugly signs, narrow lanes, restricted access, punishments for crossing lines, fees, separation of wealthy from other people, big brother-ish cameras, special good-to-go accounts, and general visual clutter, MIGHT BE WORTH IT.

WSDOT says that 65% of the toll money goes into maintaining the lanes and equipment? I suppose most of the rest goes to the out of state company that is running it? Where is the net gain?

WSDOT also suggests here that they expect that it may take six months to retrain us drivers to use the system. When/if it is working, where are all of the average folks using the toll lanes going to find an extra $1000 or so/year to pay tolls?

This might sound skeptical-but maybe somebody is hoping to extract a lot of money in traffic tickets from people crossing the 4x white lines out of frustration. Sorry for the negativity, but the one traffic ticket I got in the last 44 years was on uncrowded wide open eastbound I-90 express lanes, a downhill stretch, with easy radar access. Not a relatively dangerous place to drive, but an easy place to give speeding tickets.

Roads can only carry what they can carry. How can making it legally impossible to get into and out of lanes, as necessary, help with the overall movement of traffic? Today there was a small accident on North bound 405 at 70th, off to the right, at about 1pm. Traffic was backed up 2 miles. How dysfunctional to not be able to use the 2 wide open lanes to get around the problem area!

One of the small pleasures of living in this increasingly congested area used to be that you could get out on a big open road in off peak times and relax a bit. These lanes/cameras/tolls have put an end to that, especially for the average person with a limited budget. Like my previous statement says, IT MIGHT BE WORTH IT, if people's lives got much better in their normal commutes. It looks like that is not the case.

I am not a trucker, but think of what this system is doing to big/medium size trucks, that bring almost EVERYTHING that we use in everyday life (besides power and water). The trucks can't use the special lanes by law-they are over 10,000 lbs. So they have to deal with increased gridlock-with no possible remedy. And car drivers are squished into narrower lanes with them.

Jonathan Bruhn said...

This is all simply ridiculous.
After much effort I finally get a flex pass. They weren't available for the longest time at the outlets the state said they would be available at.
But I can't activate it.
I tried cancelling my account but that didn't work.
I have just spent the last half hour waiting to speak to somebody on the toll free number to get it activated and I was cut off.
Does the state realize that some of us work? That we don't have all day to do this and we have other things to do on our breaks and days off?
Just disrepectful. Why can't we activate on line? is a joke.

WSDOT said...

Hi Jonathan – We sincerely apologize for the hassle you have been through to activate your Flex Pass. We certainly understand that it can be frustrating to take time out of your day to spend on the phone. However, you can activate your Good To Go! pass online through your Good To Go! account and by following these steps:

1. Log in to your account online at
2. Click on "Account Info" on the left hand menu.
3. Click on "Vehicle/Pass/TDD Info" on the left hand menu.
4. Choose the "Good To Go! pass" tab from the center of the screen.
5. Click the "Add" tab.
6. Enter the pass number.

Let us know if you have additional questions!

Rebecca said...

This post starts out saying that "don't forget that vehicles with 2+ people can still use the hov lanes for free". It is not free if you consider the $45 start up fees. I need to use the lanes to take my deaf daughter to the eye doctor several times a year plus a few other incidental trips. $45 is a lot of money for something that USED TO be free.

Cu Bong said...

WSDOT's Tolling Director is Craig Stone , go to check it out his background and his experience ,
if you are not satisfied with ETLs , WSDOT's idea, then please contact your local state ref and ask them to request WSDOT action to fix faster rather than waiting for 6 months to year to make that changes.
The idea is OK but they executed the project with lack of experiences, ( traffic reduces at some area but build up more on other areas , exit/entry points are bad designed with stupid weaves,

A local politician is calling out the state's transportation department for what he alleges is some shifty lane swapping, undermining drivers on I-405.

"At the end of the day, whatever we call it, there are now only three lanes for general purpose traffic," said State Rep. Mark Harmsworth (R-Mill Creek).

Harmsworth, who represents the state's 44th district, is among locals who believe that I-405 had four general purpose lanes before the Washington State Department of Transportation took away one, and converted it into a toll lane. That goes against federal road rules, he said — the state cannot convert a general purpose lane into a toll lane. He added that WSDOT was supposed to maintain four general purpose lanes, after the state passed a tax funding just that.

WSDOT said...

howardg - You have an interesting idea, but if we simply made two HOV lanes then there still wouldn't be any relief for solo-drivers. The idea behind express toll lanes is to create a more reliable option for all vehicles. It's not restricting freedom, it's giving drivers a new choice for a faster trip when they really need it.

You say it would be worth it if this really works and improves peak hour commutes. These benefits are starting to appear, especially during the morning commute. You can see the results here:

We answer your question about how toll revenues are allocated here:

MagnuM said...

So right now there are 5 lanes each way.

How come you did not think about switchable express lanes as we do have on I-90 or I-5? Keep 4 simple lanes on each side and 2 express (could be 2+ carpool) lanes in the center that change they're direction at peak hours?

Everyone here has the feeling that these new express lanes were actually added with the purpose of making money and not to ease our life.

This is the most frustrating thing.

Brian said...

Do official state holidays impact peak days? For example I would like to use the hov lane as a 2 person car pool (free) on Thanksgiving day. It is a Thursday which is a peak day, but it is also a holiday. Is it treated like the weekend or as a normal peak day? I don't see anywhere mentioning if holidays are the same as weekends.

WSDOT said...

Brian – Yes! Holidays absolutely count as off-peak days in the express toll lanes. We are currently working on posting those holidays on our website. Thanks for the reminder!

WSDOT said...

Cu Bong – Thank you for bringing your concerns about I-405 to our attention. Comments, such as yours, will help us determine where we need to evaluate the system. I’m happy to explain the reasoning behind the designated access point weave lanes. While they do take up space, drivers still have the same amount of lanes to pass through the corridor. You may see drivers slowing down to enter or exit the express toll lanes. Weave lanes are designed to allow drivers enough time to safely adjust to the speed of the lanes they’re entering and find a window to safely merge. These lanes function very similarly to long highway on-ramps that allow drivers time to gauge and calculate a safe merge. In fact, designated areas to merge actually decrease congestion that would be caused by drivers quickly hopping in and out of the lanes. That said, WSDOT is actively monitoring the new striping to observe how drivers use the new system and is prepared to make adjustments quickly if it becomes apparent that they are needed and when opportunities arise.

In terms of safety in the designated access point areas, I would like to assure you that the I-405 express toll lane design reflects countless hours spent working with Washington State Patrol and others from around the country to gather input. We worked closely with WSP to determine the design and location of WSP vehicle pullouts and other facility needs for their important safety and enforcement work.

You also mentioned that you experienced driving less than 45 mph in the express toll lanes. Unfortunately, that will happen occasionally. Our goal is to keep traffic moving at 45 miles per hour 90 percent of the time. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us.

Jenna said...

WSDOT- did you guys even think about the impact that these horrible toll lanes would have on I5 traffic? I take I5 south into Seattle every morning and traffic has gotten SO much worse since these opened due to people avoiding 405 at all costs. What's your plan to help us out?

WSDOT said...

Rebecca – The $30 deposit into a Good To Go! account is to cover the payments of future tolls on any toll road in Washington and will be returned to you if you do not use it. The deposit allows drivers to pay the lowest toll rates if they decide to use the express toll lanes when not in a carpool or need to use another toll road at any time. We understand this is a change for carpoolers, but we are working hard to help ease the transition.

Rebecca said...

yes, but I almost never (really!) use toll roads, so its money locked into something that I won't use. The issue is that I can't use the carpool lanes north of bellevue for free anymore, although communication from WSDOT says that I can. Its not free if I first have to front $45.

WSDOT said...

Jenna – Actually, our data shows that volumes on roadways all over the region have increased as a result of economic development and population growth in the past year. We also know that despite some shifts in congestion along the I-405 corridor, traffic is not being diverted to I-5 as a result. WSDOT is actively monitoring the effects of the express toll lanes in the region and is prepared to make adjustments where necessary.

WSDOT said...

@MagnuM - Thank you for sharing your concerns about the express toll lanes (ETLs) and how tolling works. The ETLs run a little differently than revenue-based tolling. The ETLs actually manage traffic through tolling, making the two ETLs more long-lasting than 2+ HOV lanes that would breakdown quickly as the Eastside population grows. I-405 ETLs are a different tolling method than on SR 520 and Tacoma Narrows bridge tolls where revenue goes toward paying for bridge construction. I-405 express toll lanes help manage traffic on the corridor. They allow you to buy into express toll lanes when you need to get to your destination faster, which then frees up space in the regular lanes for other drivers. Here's how it works: the toll rate varies between 75 cents and $10 based on how many drivers choose to use express toll lanes. Rates increase as more drivers choose the lanes to manage lane volume and keep traffic moving at 45 miles an hour or faster. Tolls are lowered when traffic is lighter to encourage drivers to move from regular lanes into express toll lanes. In terms of where the tolling revenue goes, under Washington state law, all toll revenue collected in the I-405 corridor is put into a separate account to be reinvested in future improvement projects on I-405.

Jason Emery said...

I will be sure to petition against tolls if this ever comes up.

Driving on 405 is terrifying now. I find drivers swerve to avoid the HOV lanes around the north 405 corridor and nobody understands what 'open' means. I guess it means you can drive without paying but it's the wrong metaphor as it also means 'open for tolls'.

Somehow I finally got tagged with a 2.75 toll by the spy cameras on a Sunday night when the road was wide open. I have no idea how I could have been in an HOV lane, but it isn't worth griping about.

I tried to do the good thing and pay it, but...

(*) The website won't work and keeps posting URL error messages when I try to set up an account or pay the toll directly. I'm on a Mac.
(*) The automated phone system literally hangs up on me when I select an option after telling me I can set an account up via the automated system. I tried it twice to be sure. Wow!

So I left an email and said I don't know how to pay. Because I don't. Who under 50 has a checking account anymore? I kept my last checkbook as a nostalgic memory to remember when I'm old.

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

@Rebecca - You may want to call GoodToGo! customer service (1-866-936-8246) and chat about what the best option is for you. If you are an infrequent ETL user, the passes may not be the best option. But, if you would like to use the ETLs as a carpooler, your account's $30 balance is fully refundable if you ever choose to close your account. Until then, the $30 pre-paid balance is yours to use towards tolls on any WA state toll facility.

WSDOT said...

Jason, we’re sorry you find it scary to drive on I-405 now. “Open to all” means anyone can use the express toll lanes without paying. This would only occur if there were an accident blocking all the general purpose lanes. People are still learning how to use the express toll lanes. The toll cameras only take photos of license plates of vehicles that are driving in the express toll lanes. Please note that there are two express toll lanes in each direction between Bellevue and Bothell. We did have some complaints about the website not working last weekend; I’m sorry you were unable to pay your bill. You may want to give it another try now. You should hear back on your email soon if you haven’t already.

Rachel Barnard said...

Why has the toll increased over the last two days from $0.75 to $2.00 North and South bound? At 7:20AM this morning it was $2.00 all the way Southbound without a significant increase in traffic when just two days ago it was $.075? At 4:25PM yesterday Northbound was $2.25 at NE 6th entrance when just the day before it was $0.75 with no visual increase in traffic? What's going on?

Lisa Nguyen said...

Southbound on 405 today (12/4/15) at 7:00 am reached $7+. How is this crap affordable. Traffic is no better than what it was before. Started of as $0.75 but increased to $1.75, $2.50, $5, and now $7+... It's hard enough to find one person to carpool with you to work but now you have to find at least two people? And if you want to you the carpool lane with 2 people it's only on the weekend when people usually don't have to work... With this rate people will have to work more OT to pay for the toll. Their commercial says you get to spend more time with your family and get to where you need to go well that's only if you have 200+ every 2-3 weeks to spend. Sorry but I have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay.

WSDOT said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately, there was a disabled vehicle blocking the right toll lane headed southbound this morning, causing the toll rate to jump pretty high. Looks like it’s all clear now.

WSDOT said...

Rachel - While it may appear that a higher toll rate indicates better time savings in ETLs, it actually means that the ETL is getting full. In order to make sure the ETLs are providing efficient trips to those who choose to buy into them, our traffic engineers have adjusted the toll rate algorithm to respond quicker to a higher demand in the lanes. We will continue to monitor traffic patterns and look for ways to improve the system.

Jason Pietrzyk said...

There are comments on that the ETL southbound on I-405 were $9.25 this morning. I've never seen it this high. There also is a picture showing the toll sign from NE 160th, which also doesn't look like the actual sign from NE 160th.

graciethebum said...

I am all for high taxes, but this is a regressive tax.

Most of the people that need to live outside of Seattle can't afford to live in remind me why we're taxing THEM? If someone is making $12 an hour and commutes from, say Bothell or Mill Creek, driving to work and home again eats up an hour and a half of their work shift already.

Seattle, sometimes I just don't get you.

Ramana Vishnumolakala said...

WSDOT, your comment to @MagnuM on November 13, 2015 at 2:42:00 PM PST has "Here's how it works: the toll rate varies between 75 cents and $10 based on how many drivers choose to use express toll lanes. Rates increase as more drivers choose the lanes to manage lane volume and keep traffic moving at 45 miles an hour or faster. Tolls are lowered when traffic is lighter to encourage drivers to move from regular lanes into express toll lanes."

I completely disagree with this.

I think you followed this for the first month after toll lanes were opened. Then these rules are completely forgotten. For example today, at 9:10am, south bound toll was $5.00 from Exit# 26 to Exit#20. There were not many cars in the toll lane and they were going above 60mph. How do you explain this? This is what I noticed, whenever traffic slows down in regular lanes (cop giving a ticket, fender bender, raining etc) the toll rate is increased irrespective of the traffic in toll lanes.

Very frustrating....regular lines have become miserable.

WSDOT said...

Ramana, the way that toll rates work to manage demand of the express toll lanes has not changed. However, we did recently tweak the algorithm to more quickly adjust to traffic patterns in the early morning commutes, and now toll rates factor in traffic in general purpose lanes as well. WSDOT is working hard to make sure these lanes are functioning the way they should, and we appreciate your feedback in the process.

Ramana Vishnumolakala said...

WSDOT, Thanks for the response. So there was a change in the tolls. I don't think this is explained anywhere.

I only see that toll quickly runs towards $10.00 as the traffic in regular lines increase. Because of the toll, many drivers are staying back in the regular lanes. This is against "Tolls are lowered when traffic is lighter to encourage drivers to move from regular lanes into express toll lanes".

I completely lost how this is going to help the traffic problem that the toll lanes are supposed to minimize.

WSDOT said...

Ramana – The toll rate algorithm helps to manage demand of the ETLs because it influences volumes and speeds in the lanes. Since opening, we've seen traffic volumes increase in the express toll lanes and as a result the average toll rate has increased during peak periods as more drivers are choosing to use the express toll lanes and pay a toll to avoid congestion in the regular lanes. You can find all of this on a later blog post:

Jack Pu said...

Before the toll was set up I never have trouble getting to Bellevue from Bothell within 30 mins time frame around…I need to spend 45 mins to 1 hr in traffic. I failed to see the purpose of this miserable project. What good does it do if the overall traffic becomes worse? Are you just trolling us? Washington State Department of Trolls

WSDOT said...

Jack, I'm sorry your commute has gotten a bit longer. In fact, shorter distance commutes have gotten longer for many people due to where access points exist along the corridor. Additionally, we expect that with some time, drivers will adjust to the new system and we will continue to monitor access points in order to make the system work efficiently.

Jason said...

I suspect cars are colliding with each other partly because of the new toll lanes. They're probably physically hurting people with the additional complexity of trying to drive 405.

What was a really relaxing and sedate drive (aside from the obvious high traffic during peak hours, which even then was just boring) is now frustrating, scary, and probably very dangerous. Lanes shift in and out of being HOV, different line stripes have been added which are puzzling and continually change. Sometimes there are two HOV lanes. Sometimes one. New signs seemingly randomly assign pricing or baffling short text codes and give the driver even more to try and keep track of. I am growing increasingly scared of trying to drive along 405 and have shifted more to using side roads. And I am growing angry at this pointless mess.

WSDOT only has itself to blame if it is putting more drivers at risk. I only have myself to blame if I accept it.

Let's Vote to remove this tax! It was illegal before, but now WSDOT has overstepped its promise after we gave it the ability to tax us on the 520 bridge. That made sense. We knew we couldn't afford a new bridge because we screwed up saving for it and were caught in a massive economic downturn. We accepted it with a heavy heart and a vague feeling that WSDOT could abuse this power. They promised not to.

The first chance they got they turned around and stabbed us in the back.

Shame on you, WSDOT.

We aren't broke and there will be funds to eventually improve the 405 corridor or relieve it with light rail. This is Seattle. We'll find a better way.

Of course, maybe we should suggest totally de-funding WSDOT since they seem to be happy with taxing us themselves. That's the logical long-term outcome of this mess they've created. Once government sees WSDOT can make money by itself there will be no reason to renew property taxes that go to fund WSDOT instead of funding other vital things like new swimming pools in Kirkland. You saw that coming, right? No?

You blatantly lied to every taxpayer in Seattle. Think about that the next time you ask us for something.

WSDOT said...

Jason, it's not accurate to say that express toll lanes are causing more accidents. However, we do understand that the new system has introduced many changes for drivers in the last few months and it will take time for drivers to adjust. That's why we say it will take 6-12 months for the system to settle into a new normal. Safety is a top priority for WSDOT. It is most helpful if you can provide specific information as to where you are seeing points of confusion along the corridor. Thank you for your feedback!

Sharon K said...

Really DISLIKE everything about this new system:

1. Primarily it is maddening to be sitting in creeping traffic and see one to two lanes empty, which could be used to allow a smooth flow of traffic!!

2. Secondarily, i hear the PR people on the radio and in print saying that all people will elect to pay higher tolls for predictability, but some people do NOT have this luxury. Our blue collar workers and laborers making minimum wage or on public assistance typically commute far distances to GET to work.

3. Completely confusing lane changes creating unsafe conditions. I've witnessed accidents and near-accidents!

Please register me a VERY unhappy taxpayer and local.

WSDOT said...

Sharon, thanks for your feedback. The express toll lanes provide a choice to drivers, while at the same time are designed to ease congestion both in the ETLs and in the general purpose lanes. We also know that drivers of all income levels benefit from using the ETLs, even if just once in a while. They provide that option. To address your final point, the system is still new to drivers in the area and it will take time for drivers to adjust. In the meantime, WSP is monitoring for traffic violations to keep those incidents from occurring.

Sharon K said...

As much as i appreciate any response, this rather "canned" answer doesn't really help me. I just want to log my dissatisfaction so that the WSDOT has both positive and negative feedback when assessing whether to continue this plan. Personally, I don't know anyone who likes it. I do see that some people have commented on this site about their positive reaction, but I sure don't know anyone in this camp.

It is SO counterintuitive to have one to two lanes sitting open while the majority sit squished on the road.

WSDOT said...

Sharon, we will make sure to pass your comments along. We’ve actually heard from a fair amount of drivers of various backgrounds that they have seen the benefits of the ETLs. Additionally, we apologize if our response did not seem genuine. We do our best to respond to everyone in a timely and helpful manner. If you have additional questions, please email us.

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

I used the toll lanes today - was the only time I used them this week, as I wanted to get home sooner today especially.

I'm thankful that there is an option - thank you WSDOT for putting in the toll lanes, which now gives commuters a choice.

I'm curious to know - how many use the toll lanes on a daily basis? For those that use the lanes, I'm pretty sure most are glad that they are there (like me).

WSDOT said...

We’ll have those three month numbers out soon, but we will report those numbers on a monthly basis. Stay tuned for an update and thank you for your comment!

Eugene Chudin said...

A survey of public opinion on impact of toll lanes on commute

Eugene Chudin said...

So far my little survey shows that 84% of respondents report that commute got worse after introduction of toll lanes. Is WSDOT planning to survey I-405 commuters, does it care about public's opinion?

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