• ONLY ON KIRO 7: Express lanes may come with a cost to carpoolers


    Workers are already building the new Interstate 405 toll lanes that go from Bellevue’s Northeast Sixth Street to Bothell’s State Route 522.

    However, the lanes will likely not be like the lanes on State Route 167, where carpoolers ride for free. Instead, carpoolers may have to pay if they travel in the I-405 lanes.

    “Well, that’s kind of stupid,” said MaryAnn Williams, who commutes daily on I-405. “Because the object is you’re saving money when you carpool with someone. So I don’t understand who thought this up.

    Vehicles with two or more passengers ride for free. That could change to a three-passenger minimum. The rate will be based on traffic volumes, which means the heavier the congestion, the higher the rate.

    “Well, I’m not happy about the extra charge, but you have to pay for it somehow.  Where’s the money going to come from?” said commuter Treena Bernstein.

    Washington State Department of Transportation officials said the funds raised by the tolls on I-405 will be used to extend the express lanes from Bellevue to Renton and improve the connector to SR 167.

    “Our analysis has shown that actually by adding this lane, we can actually show improvements to all lanes. SR 167 has been a great example,” said Patty Rubstello of WSDOT.  

    The Executive Advisory Board for the project will meet again mid-September to further discuss charging carpoolers and how much it will cost to use the Express Lanes on I-405, which cut about 15 minutes of a commute.

    Lanes are expected to open in late 2015.

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