[Editor: This is the text of an August 10, 2016, news release from the Washington State Department of Transportation.]
Express toll lane revenue brings relief for northbound I-405 commuters in Bothell six months early
BOTHELL — Drivers who have chosen to pay a toll for a faster, more predictable trip in the express toll lanes will soon see their money reinvested back into the Interstate 405 corridor.
The Washington State Department of Transportation announced today that it will accelerate construction of a project to add capacity on northbound I-405 by opening the right shoulder between State Route 527 and Interstate 5 to all vehicles during peak period commutes.
The Legislature initially funded the project with an expected opening date in 2018. With more drivers than originally forecasted using the express toll lanes, Gov. Jay Inslee urged WSDOT to pursue options for using toll revenue to provide traffic relief faster. Now that Legislators have committed to speed project completion to next summer, WSDOT is moving forward with construction plans.
“WSDOT has done excellent work to put this important project on a fast track, and I appreciate the bipartisan effort to make this happen quickly. The dollars generated by commuters on the corridor are being invested right back in the area that needs improvement the most – and we are bringing relief to commuters six months ahead of schedule,” said Inslee. “When you are stuck in traffic, you want relief as soon as possible. Express toll lanes have made the commute faster for most travelers, but a traffic chokepoint remains on northbound I-405 near Bothell and drivers need relief.”
Since the implementation of express toll lanes, more vehicles are moving at faster speeds in most sections of the 17-mile corridor. The exception is northbound I-405 between State Route 522 and I-5, where the lanes reduce from five to three in Bothell – creating a physical bottleneck for traffic that frustrates travelers on that stretch of roadway. Adding to that bottleneck is the busy SR 527 interchange, where nearly 1,000 cars an hour are merging into the congested northbound I-405 lanes during the afternoon peak period.
“I want to thank the governor for his leadership in accelerating this I-405 traffic relief project by six months. Working together, we can keep advancing positive change that will alleviate congestion on I-405,” said Bothell Mayor Andy Rheaume.
“Drivers are telling us, by making 11 million trips in the express toll lanes, they want a choice to get out of congestion,” said Roger Millar, secretary of transportation. “The Puget Sound region is experiencing unprecedented growth and while the express toll lanes have shown to be an effective tool for managing congestion, it doesn’t change the fact that there is still limited capacity on our already congested highways. This project will provide much needed relief, and we thank our legislative leaders for their commitment to speed up construction and bring this improvement to drivers six months sooner than planned.”
WSDOT has issued a request for qualifications from contractors for the $11.5 million design-build project and anticipates awarding the contract in late fall 2016. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.
WSDOT keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state’s transportation systems. To learn more about what we’re doing, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/news for pictures, videos, news and blogs. Real time traffic information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic or by dialing 511.