Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New southbound SR 167 lane in Auburn will open early to buses and carpools

By Ethan J. Bergerson

Just in time for summer, we're opening a new stretch of pavement to carpools and transit riders several months early to keep traffic moving in the heavily congested southbound stretch of State Route 167 in Auburn. The new lane was originally planned to be opened in early 2017 as an extension of the SR 167 HOT Lanes, but now we're going to open the new 3.5 mile stretch of road to HOV travel early. That's like being able to drive across 50 football fields stretched end-to-end beyond the point where carpools and buses have to exit the HOT Lanes today.

Many SR 167 commuters have already noticed the new lanes between 37th Street Southwest and 15th Street Southwest which were built as part of the SR 167 8th to 277th Southbound HOT Lane extension project. We've been listening to questions about why these lanes have been barreled off to traffic and agree that opening these lanes to HOV travel now will give much needed relief to carpoolers and bus riders, while helping to ease some of the congestion in the regular lanes.

We want to provide the benefits of the new lane to SR 167 users as soon as possible. The pavement is ready to be driven on now, so we are opening this to carpoolers and bus riders early while we finish roadway widening for the full 8-mile extension and installing new toll equipment.

At 5 a.m. Sunday, June 5, we'll open this new lane as a 2+ HOV lane. This will help keep traffic moving through the area where congestion that tends to build at the end of the HOT lane.

For now, single occupant vehicles using the southbound HOT lanes will need to exit the HOT lane at 37th Street Northwest and continue their trip in the general-purpose lanes. Carpoolers and transit buses will be able to continue their trip through the newly opened segment. This is similar to the southbound I-405 express toll lanes, which transition to a HOV lane in Bellevue. After the HOT lane opens, solo drivers will also have the option to pay a toll for a faster trip.

Before we can open the new 3.5 miles of HOV lane, contractor crews will need a weekend of ramp and lane closures at the SR 167/ State Route 18 interchange. So, if you're planning on using SR 167 and SR 18 through Auburn and Algona the weekend of June 3-5, expect delays—or better yet, use alternate routes. For full closure details, visit the King County Construction page.

As construction progresses on the SR 167 HOT Lane extension, additional southbound segments of these lanes will be similarly opened early to carpools and buses. Once tolling equipment has been installed and tested in early 2017, the new lanes will be added to the SR 167 HOT Lane system creating a nearly 14-mile continuous southbound stretch of HOT lanes from Renton to Pacific.


Jeff Gray said...

Oh goodie! More opportunities for "Good To Gouge". You people are shameless thieves. Not another dime for the crooks at W$DOT.

William Ableman said...

What difference does it make to turn that southbound lane at 277th to only HOV, with a GoodToGo Pass you would have already paid your toll before reaching that point?

Frequent Driver said...

I agree its not fair to change the lane to HOV only and make already PAID Go to Go drivers exit - when your rules state that once you pay to get into the lane you can drive until you need to exit. Besides anyone with 2+ passengers (HOV) will already be in the lane! You should rethink this one - will only bogg down traffic not keep it flowing...

Helena said...

This is not going to help the terrible traffic that people deal with every day. We need more general purpose lanes not another extortion lane.

05932116-3c7f-11e6-965f-bf4cf7760b27 said...

People don't seem to understand that the toll paid only covers the distance from one exit to the next. If you drive in the HOT lane for several exits, you pay multiple tolls. So, you haven't "already paid your toll before reaching that point".

Secondly, people are ignoring the fact that the HOT lane ends. From observation made from a stopped car in the general purpose lane, almost no cars exit the HOV lanes at that point. And the majority of the cars travelling in the now HOV lane from that point South have only the driver in them.

No one wants to leave that lovely, wide open lane and while I understand that feeling, it certainly is vexing to those of us following the law and getting trapped behind all of those scofflaws. There are many drivers travelling in the HOV lane until the last second, just before the new bridge and then crossing the gore point and all the general purpose lanes to get to the Highway 18 exit.

I don't know how WSDOT thinks this has sped up travel because as a single person travelling in the general purpose lanes, it takes 20 minutes longer to travel from the highway 18 interchange through the Jovita Blvd interchange. The merge from the HOV lanes and the new long on-ramp from 15th St SW has become the sticking point. Perhaps if those vehicles that don't contain 2 or more people were to merge where they are supposed to, some of the congestion farther South would be eliminated. Maybe some police presence and enforcement would encourage them to do that.

Frequent Driver said...

That is not true, the toll paid covers travel in the HOT lane until you exit the lane - you are not charged at each entry point (unless you leave and reenter). So, yes we have "already paid the toll".

David Hildebrand said...

People that are complaining about the tolls have obviously not driven back east when it costs $25 *each way* to cross a bridge in New York City, regardless of car occupancy.

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