31,000 petition signers demanded it.
Bills in the House and Senate demanded it.
A team of legislators published a letter to WSTC demanding it.
The Governor demanded it.
Finally we’re getting it! (at least in part)
The past 2 days have been a great step forward in our efforts to remove the HOT lanes / Express Toll Lanes on 17 miles of I-405 and push for REAL solutions to congestion.
As much as some people might try to make this a partisan fight, their efforts are all leading to the same goal. In the end, we are all on the same team for this issue. In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Inslee formally announced support for a list of changes to be made to the I-405 corridor that had been proposed in various ways. Most notably, to open the ETLs to all traffic at nights, weekends, and holidays – No pass required.
Other notable changes include:
- Acknowledged the need to restore the 4th GPL from 520 to NE 70th St
- Provide more access to the ETL from Bellevue before the 520 merge.
- Evaluating adding entry/exit points for Kirkland
- Requested funding to evaluate using hard shoulder running for peak hours to temporarily add a lane north of 527
- Evaluating ETL access improvements from 522
We are still driving to have:
- the tolls removed at all times
- to open to 2-person carpools
- remove the double-white lines
Other points of interest: Two of us from the stop405tolls.org leadership team were able to go to Olympia yesterday. We were able to meet with Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D) LD1. She has been exceptionally supportive of this effort, helping to arrange meetings between us and WSDOT, developing possible amendments to the Senate bill as well as introducing us to the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. We also met with Representative Judy Clibborn (D) House Transportation Committee Chair, who agrees with much of our interests and helped author the letter to WSTC demanding many of the items above. We then met with Representative Mark Harmsworth (R) who wrote the House bill on our behalf and has been supportive throughout the process. Time ran out to meet with Representative Luis Moscoso (D) LD1, but he has also been very supportive in our efforts.
From there we went to the WSTC meeting where congestion pricing expert David Ungemah, WSP presented some great information that actually supported many of our points and findings.
You can find his presentation materials here. The meeting minutes and other materials can be found here. You can watch his presentation here. It starts at time 1:25:45. After the presentations and public comment, the commission voted unanimously to proceed with steps to implement the changes requested.
After the WSTC meeting we had an excellent meeting one-on-one with Charles Knutson, the Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor on Transportation and Economic Development.
The down side to all of this is that the changes need to go through various processes to get implemented, so it won’t be immediate. All in all though, a landmark day. Remember: Focus on the issue, not the people.