WSDOT doesn’t believe you when you say that the General Purpose Lanes (GPL) of I-405 are worse during the weekdays. But in their November 18th blog post they admit things are worse on the weekends than before. They are blaming it on 4 things:
- Lane closures due to construction
- Sports events
- Lack of people using the Express Toll Lanes (ETL)
Is anyone else laughing at these excuses?
First, lane closures due to construction:
Prior to the ETL, when lanes were reduced, drivers could easily shift into the carpool lane without any disruption. Remember the good ol’ days when the carpool lane was open to all traffic after 7PM and the lane was accessible at any point — no double-white lines? Then people could use the carpool lanes and freely continue on their way unblocked. Traffic flowed smoothly with that design.
With the ETL, if WSDOT is doing construction, all traffic should be able to access the ETL just as freely, As they promised drivers would in their Oct 2 blog post:
Sometimes there could be a collision or roadwork that may block all lanes except the express toll lanes. In that case, we would stop collecting tolls and allow all vehicles (with or without a Good to Go! Pass) to use the lanes.
Yet on Nov 12th at 9:30PM the northbound GPL were reduced to 1 lane, but the ETL were still charging and people could not cross the double-white lines to get into them. The resulting backup was 5 miles long at 15mph while the ETL were empty. This has been noted several other times as well. WSDOT is failing to deliver on their own policies.
Second, sports events:
Who can forget that one year ago the Seattle Seahawks were on their way to the Superbowl? By that measure, traffic would have been much worse last year than this year. As for Saturday sports, the Huskies were away for 4 of the 7 weekends leading up to WSDOT’s article blaming sports, yet we all know traffic was terrible every single weekend on I-405 when it hadn’t been an issue during the weekends leading up to the opening of the Express Toll Lanes and was never an issue in previous years! WSDOT, if you’re going to blame the traffic on sports, at least make sure it is legitimate.
Yes, we have had rain. But this is nothing new. Yet the congestion we are seeing now is worse than other wet weekends and the congestion happens even when the skies are clear and the pavement is dry! Who can ever remember a 5 mile stop-and-stop traffic backup on I-405 on the weekend due to rain?! Reality check here: if tolling + rain = stop ‘n stop traffic, then tolling is not solving the problem it was meant to solve.
Fourth, lack of people using the Express Toll Lanes:
Wow, WSDOT, to admit to that, much less use that as a justification for poor performance of the highway, takes guts. WSDOT, take the hint: WE DON’T WANT TOLL LANES. People don’t want to pay a toll to use the highway. On the weekend they aren’t under the same pressure to use the ETL as on a weekday when you can rake them over the coals because they have no choice. Many people are carpools on the weekend, but they don’t carpool often enough to justify buying your FlexPass. Many people have commented in the petition that they refuse to pay the $45 to get a pass. Therefore, EVEN AS A CARPOOL, THEY CAN’T USE THE EXPRESS TOLL LANES. WSDOT, of all the absurd reasons you could have come up with to explain why traffic is bad on I-405, it amazes us that you would ever go so far as to say, it is due to a lack of people using the ETL.
There you have it, Legislators, your WSDOT leadership failing so badly, they don’t even see why the #405ETL are failing, they haven’t even done any studies to figure why, and they are ignoring the people who know best from driving it every day. The people understand that building and maintaining roads is not free. But we also know that tolling is a terribly inefficient and ineffective method to collect revenue and a stupid way to provide “congestion management”. The People see the lack of leadership, expertise and vision that is proposing such absurd solutions.
Legislators, please read our petition of 27,000 signatures and make it happen.
Citizens, please read the petition and add your name to it so our voices are clearly and loudly heard, then share it with others to do the same.