Wednesday, December 26, 2018

I saw the sign, and it said "FREE"

By Chris Foster

When drivers enter the I-405 express toll lanes or the SR 167 HOT lanes in early January, they'll notice a slight change: the toll rate signs will say "FREE" instead of "OPEN" when we are not charging tolls.

We recently took a fresh look at the signs and realized there was an opportunity for improvement. So we asked I-405 and SR 167 drivers and heard that almost 90 percent of people agreed that "FREE" made more sense.

While the new message on the signs should be clearer, everything else remains the same. You don't need a Good To Go! pass or a carpool when the signs say "FREE". It's still illegal to cross the double white lines, and the toll lanes will operate at their normal hours:
  • Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the I-405 express toll lanes
  • Every day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the SR 167 HOT lanes
When the express toll lanes are operating during their normal hours, drivers still may see "OPEN" displayed on the signs. If a collision or roadwork blocks all lanes except the express toll lanes, we stop collecting tolls and allow all vehicles to use the lanes for free. Signs say "OPEN TO ALL" at these times.

If you've never used the lanes before, or if you need a refresher, check out our guides. We have resources for drivers who use the express toll lanes and the HOT lanes.

22 comments:

Unknown said...

This is quite helpful. I was under the impression that the toll lanes were only for the rich people. Now that you've expressed that us poor people can use them, too, I'd like to thank you.

Unknown said...

Remember when carpooling used to be an incentive to use the carpool lanes, and our taxes paid for the roadways.... oh, wait. :/

Unknown said...

When the lanes are "free," what's wrong with crossing the double white lines? It makes no sense.

Holly said...

During a collision or roadwork, when you aren't charging a toll, shouldn't it say "Free to All" to be consistent?

Unknown said...

Is that means when the lanes are free, it’s ok to cross the double white lines ?

Courteous driver said...

Double solid white lines mean that lane changing is prohibited, period. Crossing them unexpectedly could lead to an accident, especially when traffic is moving at a different rate of speed in the toll lanes.

Unknown said...

Could you please consider making the 405 Express lane 2+ after 6PM ?

Unknown said...

Are you kidding me? I am an occasional driver on 405. I have at least average to above average intelligence. I subscribe to Good-to-Go updates, I've read I-405 Express Toll Lanes - Using the Lanes (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/405/usingthelanes.htm) and SR 167 HOT Lanes (https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/SR167HotLanes/default.htm). I get stressed out about driving on 405 because of numerous signage, rules and fees. Now you're excited about this recent signage change from "Open" to "Free", yet already cite exception to the change you just made. Talk about distracted driving- this is a complicated system that confused locals. I can't imagine an out-of-towner trying to navigate this system. Come on WSDOT- make safety and sanity a priority and simplify this system!

Unknown said...

WSDOT uses confusing signage...the worst of all state and overseas traffic signage.

Carol N said...

Can you open toll lanes going North at NE85th St and going South at NE 195th Street?
I travel every week and these two points are always backed up until the toll openings come up. I believe it would clear up a lot of congestion through Kirkland to have these additions to the openings.

Beth Ristic said...

Not being able to cross the dou ke white lines has nothing to do with whether or not they are free. It makes less sense to have them have dual meanings, I can only imagine the confusion...

Beth Ristic said...

I have a feeling it's because normally they do charge during that ti.e but cause of unforeseen curcumstance they arent so they are working it different then when it's free normally, that's my take...

Beth Ristic said...

No... I think it specifically says this, why does everyone think the double white lines are only due to the fee? I mean I know that's part of it, but it's illegal to cross double white lines period no matter where they are located is my understanding so it wouldn't matter if there is a fee or not.i guess I do see now why people think that but making sure people are in the lane to get charged is not the only reason for double lines or at least that's my understanding...

Beth Ristic said...

Thank you smart person, I cant believe how many people think it's only to do with the fee 🙃

Beth Ristic said...

I dont know, I'm pretty confused in southern California with all the freeway splits, I think everywhere is pretty much confusing till you know it..

Unknown said...

Agreed. It is not about improving traffic flow or pushing folks to carpool. Solely a revenue generator

Unknown said...

Why can't 167 be free on weekends too like 405? I rarely use 405 but regularly use 167 on weekends and don't think they should be paid lanes on those weekends. Can you tell me the reasoning why one is free but not the other?

Unknown said...

Please tell me the reasoning that 405 is free on the weekend but you have to pay to drive on 167?

Ghostrider1948 said...

Remember when gas taxes paid for highways? We already have among the highest gas tax in the nation and it's still not enough. So now we get to pay "fees" to use the highways we pay the gas taxes to maintain. What is the state doing with all of that money?

Unknown said...

WSDOT doesn't care in the least about improving traffic or safety. The 'carpool', 'hot lanes' or whatever they want to call them are simply a revenue source for their "General Fund" since they've grossly abused our gas tax. Their main agenda is to get everyone out of their cars/trucks and into mass transit even though anyone with half a brain knows this is not going to happen.
Spending Billions$$$ on mass transit and being very vocal about not having a single dime slated for road/bridge improvements is asinine.
Come on WSDOT: Extract your cranium from your rectum..............We are not as stupid as you think but we definitely see right thru "your" stupidity!!!

FREE means OPEN | OPEN doesn’t mean FREE said...

During collision or blockage, doesn’t “OPEN TO ALL” cause exactly the same confusion we are trying to fix? Should say “FREE TO ALL” if express lanes are made available due to collision or blockage.

TFoster said...

When the fly-over connection between 167 and 405 opens, will those of us using the Good To Go Passes be able to use it legally?

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