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.
Outstanding presentation! Thank you for all that you do on our behalf.
I still want zero tolls. This state has turned into such a burden on the middle class worker. It’s pathetic. All the average tax payer thinks about the state and local governments is that they are a bunch of crooks.
GET OUT OF OUR POCKETS AND MANAGE WITH LESS…
As a tax payer and citizen of this state I cannot wait to leave. It is so sewed up here.
Good luck on your toll battle…just remember your dealing with crooked people whom only think of them selves in gov. They are carrier politicians and don’t have a clue as to the real world out side. Too bad they don’t have to live as others with our income and have to carry the burdens they bestow uupon the people of Wa.
Rob, definitely we seek to reach no tolls at all times. This is just one step in that process. I think we got their attention with this issue. No doubt we should know politicians’ motives. But I will say that every person I mentioned in this article comes across as sincerely interested in doing what is best for the community. Whether they supported the tolls in the past or not is really not relevant. What is relevant is their interest in executing the public’s will on this matter now that we can clearly see the realities of it.
The difference in this issue from perhaps all others is how it transcends political groups or boundaries. It affects us all equally and these legislators (at least in the affected districts) are dealing with the same traffic you and I are. And I think that is why we will be successful in the end. The most important part of achieving that end is to stay focused on the issue, not the people.
The proposed changes to the Toll lanes are great, and what it should be, BUT…… Why do we still need to BUY a pass to drive in the Carpool lane with 3 or more in the vehicle???? That is a MAJOR outrage, and should be one of the FIRST things changed!!!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
This is great, thank you, David
LikeLiked by 1 person
I live in Mukilteo and work in Bellevue so I drive the entire length of the toll lanes and I pay over $200 a month to do so which is ridiculous! I am OK with paying a small toll to drive in these lanes to get home faster but the rates have continuously risen since they opened up which is stopping most people from driving in them. It seems like they have raised the cost to make up for people NOT using the lanes which is a slippery slope. I see the mass traffic backed up in the other lanes which wouldn’t be the case if they would stop being so greedy and make the toll realistic for us single income families instead of punishing us for using the lanes cause their bottom line isn’t making the state enough money! I am also frustrated that at first I would pay when my funds were low and I was in control of how much I was paying, but then they would not allow me to do this anymore and will now only accept auto pay from my bank account which doesn’t even notify me when they take and take and take whenever they want…STOP BEING GREEDY so people can afford to drive in these lanes and congestion will get better.
@Teresa No one is making you drive in the toll lanes, the fee is intended to price people out of them. They rise when traffic is bad. As a motorcyclist I ride in them daily and can plainly see they hit $10 when traffic was stopped at basically Bothell all the way through Kirkland. This is consistent with observations on other days the fee is higher.
You need to plan your day a little better to allow for traffic. Realistically you’re paying $200/mo to save 15 minutes per trip. Is your time worth that much or can you leave a little earlier? Simplify your life a little and you’ll save…well…$200 a month for starters! 🙂
I don’t see how you taking the free (non-tolled) lanes is translating into avoiding greed by the state. This doesn’t make sense.
Bottom line, what IS the alternative here? What do you all propose to relieve traffic? I see everyone complain but no solution is brought along with that. They did very good research for multiple years, released their findings for an entire year and discussed the plan in almost monthly community meetings where anyone could attend. How many did you go to?
Looking forward to your contribution to a solution to the problem!
Krystal, it’s simple math, if instead of one person paying $12 a day and paid $5 a day then more people, say 5 more people take those lanes then they would be making $25 instead of $12 and the congestion would come down… Simple math! These lanes haven’t helped at all for many people especially since there is not a lot of places for most drivers to get into the lanes without breaking the law by crossing the double white lines.. what about those folks??
I disagree with the comment “You need to plan your day a little better to allow for traffic”. If the situation was the same as before, you would be right. However, WSDOT cannot make a crappy plan and blame it on the people. The situation is actually worse than it was before. The plan is failed to accomplish the goals that it promised. It is the right of the people to hold the decision makers accountable. If we bought an expensive product that was misrepresented, many of us would return it.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Krystal: The alternative solution that is offered here it to Encourage carpooling, not deter it. The function of HOT lanes is to sell surplus capacity of HOV, NOT to reduce congestion. They are using the wrong tool for the job. As for collecting revenue, these tolls are the absolute least efficient method for collecting revenue. We already have much better solutions available.
As for your question about the community meetings, yes many people attended and were overwhelmingly against the tolls. That didn’t matter. They had clearly already made up their minds. The meetings were just a formality. You can read more about the problems with the ETL as well as the solutions in this post, starting with the slide deck presented to the Transportation Committee: https://stop405tolls.org/2016/02/28/a-collection-of-articles-on-the-problems-of-405etl/
The purpose of the HOT lanes, as described by WSDOT, is to “manage congestion”. That means to make the lane unaffordable to enough people that the remaining people can go at at least 45mph. The purpose is not to REDUCE congestion. The purpose is not to make it affordable. The function a HOT lane is to sell off surplus capacity of a HOV lane. The problem here is that there is no surplus capacity. To create an artificial surplus, they raised the minimum carpool requirement to 3+.
If the HOT lane were full of HOV (as it was before they implemented HOT), that would encourage carpooling and make more room in the GPL. A win for both. WSDOT claims the 2 person carpool is a failure because that carpool lanes were going too slow. But quite the opposite is true. The 2 person carpools were a resounding success, so much that they filled the carpool lane. Don’t penalize people for the success. The section north of 522 simply needs more capacity. No amount of tolling will make a difference.