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Advisory group to recommend carpool policy for I-405 express toll lanes
For the Reporter
A group of leaders representing the Interstate 405 and State Route 167 corridor will discuss recommendations for carpool requirements in the future I-405 express toll lanes at their final meeting Thursday in Renton.
The advisory group's recommendations will help inform a project funding and phasing plan for a future 40-mile-long express toll lane system, composed of I-405 express toll lanes and SR 167 HOT lanes. The Washington State Department of Transportation is scheduled to deliver the plan to the Governor and Legislature in early 2014.
WSDOT has worked with the group throughout 2013 to analyze a range of carpool options that provide different levels of traffic performance and revenue in the future express toll lanes. The group has also studied how different funding methods could help fund new lanes in the congested Bellevue to Renton corridor.
"Partnering with local communities is crucial as WSDOT and the Commission work through important policies for the I-405 express toll lanes in the coming months," said Kim Henry, I-405/SR 167 program director.
Analysis presented at previous advisory group meetings demonstrated that allowing two-person carpools to ride for free in the express toll lanes will not meet traffic performance requirements set by the state legislature. As a result, three options remain:
• Three-person carpools ride for free
• Three-person carpools ride for free at peak times, two-person carpools ride for free at off-peak times
• All carpools receive a discount
The advisory group plans to present their recommendations at a Nov. 20 meeting of the Washington State Transportation Commission in Kirkland. The Commission will ultimately set toll exemptions and rates through a public process scheduled to continue into spring 2014.
The meeting will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Renton Community Center, 1715 SE Maple Valley Highway.
The public is welcome to attend and provide comments. Meeting summaries and materials from the first three meetings, hosted throughout 2013, are available online at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/tolling/eastsidecorridor.
The leaders, known as the I-405/SR 167 Executive Advisory Group, have been advising WSDOT and partner agencies on I-405 corridor improvements since the late 90s.
Similar to SR 167 HOT lanes, the I-405 express toll lanes allows the corridor to operate more efficiently to reduce congestion. I-405 express toll lanes will offer drivers the option to use the lanes by paying a toll. The first phase of express toll lanes on I-405 is under construction between Bellevue and Lynnwood and is scheduled to open to traffic in 2015.