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What is the Eastside Corridor?
The Eastside Corridor includes parts of Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, stretching some 50 miles down I-405 and SR 167 from Lynnwood to Puyallup. The Eastside Corridor Tolling Study project limits encompass the I-405 and SR 167 corridors.
What is the vision for the Eastside Corridor?
The Eastside Corridor vision includes new highway lanes, improved interchanges, express toll lanes, and expanded transit service, including bus rapid transit (BRT), and expanded vanpool programs. Other features, such as the SR 167 HOT Lanes Pilot Project and SR 167 extension in Pierce County, will connect the entire corridor with a system better equipped to manage traffic demands in the future.
What is the Eastside Corridor Tolling Study?
In 2009, the Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to prepare a traffic and revenue study for the Eastside Corridor that includes a plan to operate up to two express toll lanes on I-405 and to seek input from the public. A report is due to the governor and legislature in January 2010.
What are express toll lanes?
Express toll lanes provide toll-free express trips for carpools, vanpools and buses, and give solo drivers the option to pay a toll to use the lanes for a faster, more reliable trip when they need it most. The toll rates adjust electronically according to traffic levels to ensure that the express toll lane is free flowing (at least 45 miles per hour) even when the regular lanes are congested.
Why are we considering express toll lanes?
Drivers in the Eastside Corridor experience heavy traffic for approximately eight hours each day. Express toll lanes help relieve congestion and generate funds that could help pay for future corridor master plan improvements. Connecting I-405 express toll lanes to the HOT lanes already established on SR 167, would create a 50+ mile north-south Eastside Corridor express toll lane system and a reliable bypass to I-5 from Puyallup to Lynnwood.
Are you building new lanes or turning the existing lanes into express toll lanes?
As part of our study, we are looking at adding an additional lane to I -405, which when combined with the existing HOV lane could operate as two express toll lanes, providing a choice for single occupant vehicles (SOV) users to pay a toll to use those lanes. Carpools, vanpools and buses would be able to use the lanes for free, as they do with HOV lanes today. Single occupant drivers would have the choice to pay a toll to use the express toll lanes. The general purpose lanes would remain just as they are today.
Traffic models show that express toll lanes make much better use of our available highways by moving 70 percent more vehicles at least 45 MPH than currently. By contrast, adding another general purpose lane only moves 10 percent more vehicles at least 45 MPH.
What options are you considering?
We are currently looking at five different options for improving this corridor with express toll lanes.
Why not build more general purpose lanes?
By using a variable pricing system we are able to operate the highway more efficiently by reducing congestion in the general purpose lanes. As more solo drivers choose to use the express lanes, it frees up space in the general purpose lanes and leads to less congestion for drivers in all the lanes.
How much will it cost me to use the express toll lanes?
The price to enter the express toll lanes depends on the current demand and level of congestion. The price adjusts electronically based on the amount of traffic in the lanes, so the toll amount will depend on the demand for lane space. When demand is high, prices will rise, and during times when fewer cars want to use the lanes, prices will be low.
Who will approve express toll lanes for the Eastside Corridor?
The final Eastside Corridor Tolling Study report will be submitted to the governor and Legislature in January 2010. The legislature has the authority to authorize tolling for this highway.
What effect will the express toll lanes have on buses, vanpools and carpools?
Currently, the HOV lanes are not providing reliable service for transit. With the addition of more capacity in express toll lanes, transit riders will experience improved reliability and service when compared to the current HOV lane. Because the objective of the express toll lane is to provide improved reliability and service.
Will there be double white lines similar to what’s on SR 167?
One of the key elements of express toll lanes is buffer zones to separate the express lanes from regular lanes. This helps keep traffic moving in the express toll lanes. Express toll lanes on I-405 would have some sort of buffer zone or double white line to restrict access to the lanes except at certain points.
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Will I be able to use my Good To Go! transponder on these new toll lanes?
Yes, the Good To Go! transponder will work on any tolled lane in the state. Solo drivers must have a prepaid Good To Go! account to use the express toll lanes.
Won't the express toll lanes only benefit people with higher incomes?
Research on existing express toll lane users in other parts of the country reveals that people of all income levels choose to pay tolls when they need a faster, more reliable trip, such as when they need to pick up a child from daycare or be to work on time.
How can I stay involved throughout the length of the study?
If you would like to stay involved or provide comment, send us an e-mail indicating your interest in the Eastside Corridor Tolling Study. You will be added to our e-mail update list and will receive the latest information as it’s released.
Your comments will be included in the final report to the legislature in January 2010.