I have worked with expert transportation engineers at Eastside Transportation Association to evaluate the I-405 Transportation Discipline Report that was included in the I-405 Environmental Assessment. The content of the report is disturbing, to say the least:
- WSDOT is adding just ½-mile of new general purpose capacity in the entire project. This means that the billions of dollars invested is only for tolled capacity.
- The new capacity is in the form of an auxiliary lane, southbound only, between NE 44th St and NE 30th St. Experts have been lobbying WSDOT for years to add this climbing lane. What they are proposing is less than that, as the lane will not terminate beyond the exit ramp to NE 30th St, which would complete the climb over the hill.
- Worse yet, the project eliminates the southbound HOV lane on the right side between SE 8th St and the I-90 exit ramp. This is being done so that no new earthwork will be required to add the southbound ETL in that area. This movement is not being replaced with a corresponding left-side ETL exit that connects to the I-90 HOV entrance ramp in the Mercer Slough.
- There will be no second ETL in either direction underneath NE 6th St.
- All additional pavement space in downtown Bellevue is being dedicated to the ETL lanes, precluding any installation of additional GP lanes in the future.
- WSDOT is not proposing any significant interchange improvements, other than a second lane on the ramp from I-405 SB to I-90 EB and 600 feet of an additional lane between the NE 10th St entrance and the SR 520 WB exit. Both of these are not mainline improvements. In particular, there are no improvements proposed between I-90 and Coal Creek Parkway, which is where a braided ramp system in the southbound direction is badly needed.
- It appears that WSDOT’s proposed improvements will NOT accommodate future capacity additions within the corridor. I don’t believe we can trust the WSDOT staff and their answers related to the offsets of retaining walls and bridge abutments. My supposition that they will be PRECLUDING future capacity addition which is justified by what is being stated in their reports.
In short, the improvements to this corridor will do NOTHING for non-ETL users. In fact, the elimination of the right-side HOV lane will make travel from downtown Bellevue to Mercer Island and Seattle even slower. My expectation is that travel times in the entire corridor will actually decline and that crash rates will increase, particularly between NE 6th St and 112th Ave SE.
Overall, this is a huge disappointment. If WSDOT completes this project as planned, the region will get a massive call to action. We can either be ready to support and amplify that or we can go about business as usual.
You can review the Environmental Assessment and the TDR yourself here:
Come and voice your opinion on these at the public hearing tomorrow, April 17, 2018 (details). Also, please share this broadly so everyone can be informed.
And sign the petition too. Contribute if you can. If not, we all may soon be paying even more tolls!