Lawmakers seek to fix issues with Express Toll Lanes on I-405
In response to mounting problems facing Washington drivers using new Express Toll Lanes on Interstate 405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood, two lawmakers are proposing changes to improve toll lane policies and reduce congestion. Sen. Andy Hill and Rep. Mark Harmsworth today announced a new bill they're sponsoring to address issues raised by thousands of constituents.
“While large scale projects require an adjustment period, WSDOT's toll lane implementation has not demonstrated they're going to make this work for users,” said Hill, of Redmond, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “Drivers simply aren't getting the service, congestion relief and overall system improvements they were promised. I had concerns from the beginning, but worked to improve the system and the implementation to make it work best for our community. However it's become clear project leaders aren't going to take bold action needed to make this successful.”
The legislation requires the Washington State Department of Transportation to use only one Express Toll Lane each way throughout the corridor and opens all lanes to unrestricted use not subject to tolls between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. and on state holidays.
“Our proposal is to ratchet back the failed system that WSDOT has implemented,” said Harmsworth, of Mill Creek, who serves as assistant ranking member on the House Transportation Committee. “The constituents I'm hearing from are experiencing longer commute times and more congestion as they go about their daily lives. It's unacceptable to wait any longer to address this.”
The proposal also moves away from designated entry and exit points, instead allowing continuous access except in specific locations where vehicles should not cross for safety reasons.
WSDOT launched the Express Toll Lanes — two each way between Bellevue and Bothell and one from Bothell to Lynnwood — on September 27. Since then lawmakers have heard directly from hundreds of constituents, and online from thousands more, with issues ranging from congestion, to traffic safety and technical glitches with paying the tolls.
Toll rates start as low as $0.75, but increase up to $10 depending on congestion in the general purpose lanes. The Washington State Transportation Commission had originally proposed a $15 maximum toll. However, Hill and three Senate colleagues urged the Washington State Transportation Commission to revisit their policies and prices, ultimately working to reduce the top price to $10.
The new legislation has been released ahead of the 2016 session that is scheduled to begin on January 11.
###Washington State House Republican Communications