Local Information

A week into I-405 express toll lanes: more choices for a faster commute

Monday, October 5, 2015 - 15:49

Ethan Bergerson, WSDOT communications, 206-464-1184 (Seattle)

Drivers are saving an average of 15-25 minutes in express toll lanes

BELLEVUE – More drivers are using the new Interstate 405 express toll lanes, according to data collected from last week’s commute.

“Every day is different, and each driver has a different experience,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Craig Stone. “Overall, last week’s I-405 travel times have been lower than they were a year ago.”

While travel times have been lower, traffic volumes have increased by up to nine percent on I-405 since October 2014.

“Since the express toll lanes opened we’ve seen reliability return to I-405,” said Stone. “Drivers who choose to use the express toll lanes can shave average of 15 to 25 minutes off their commute during peak periods.”

The double express toll lanes between Bellevue and Bothell are also moving more vehicles. Typical HOV lane volumes were about 1,600 an hour. Last week the double express toll lanes were carrying about 2,400 vehicles an hour.

For the typical toll of $1.50, express toll lanes are saving southbound morning peak commute drivers 25 minutes. For the northbound afternoon commute, express toll lane drivers are paying an average of $1 to save 15 minutes.
During the first week in operation, express toll lane volumes increased 15 to 20 percent, and the highest volumes occurred on Thursday, Oct. 1 near Northeast 132nd Street. During the peak period morning commute on southbound I-405, there were 14,000 vehicles in the express toll lanes. During peak period evening commute there were 12,000 vehicles traveling in the northbound express toll lanes. This is an increase of about 3,000 vehicles using the express toll lanes in each direction since Monday, Sept. 28.

“We still have a six months to a year adjustment period ahead of us, but the express toll lanes are already doing what they were designed to do: giving drivers an option for a reliable trip,” said Stone.

Traffic volumes on alternate routes

Across the region, traffic volumes have increased on all major highway routes since October 2014, including I-405, I-5, SR 520, I-90 and SR 522. WSDOT is working with cities and jurisdictions to monitor traffic on their roadways and does not yet have traffic volume data on other local routes

“Again, each driver experience is different but generally speaking, we are seeing typical fall, back-to-school traffic,” said Stone. “The economy is rebounding and across the region we’re seeing more vehicles on the road.”

Advice for drivers

Stone also pointed out that just one week into the new system, drivers are still at the beginning of a learning curve. He shares some tips:

  • Drivers don’t need a Good To Go! Pass to use express toll lanes. They can still use the lane without a pass and the registered owner will receive a bill in the mail for the toll plus $2.
  • The direct access ramps at Northeast 6th Street and Northeast 128th Street are available for express toll lane drivers. They provide direct access into and out of downtown Bellevue and Totem Lake.
  • Activate and install your Flex Pass. Drivers who purchased a pass at a retailer or received a free Flex Pass through RideshareOnline.com must activate the pass by registering it to a Good To Go! account.
  • Visit goodtogo405.org and you’ll find a lot of information and tools to help you plan your trip on I-405 express toll lanes.

I-405 express toll lanes overview

The I-405 express toll lanes give drivers the option to pay a toll for a faster, more reliable trip between Bellevue and Lynnwood. Toll rates set by the Washington State Transportation Commission will adjust based on traffic congestion to keep the toll lanes moving at 45 mph or faster. Transit, vanpools, motorcycles with a motorcycle pass, and qualifying carpools with a Flex Pass can travel for free in the express toll lanes.

Visit GoodToGo405.org to learn more about I-405 express toll lanes. An animated video gives an example of what a trip may look like in the express toll lanes.


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