How bad is traffic on I-405? Well, despite the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) new express toll lanes, bad enough that King County Metro is paying drivers to alter their I-405 habits.
King County is asking commuters to make a pledge promising to “cut eight round trips driving alone, to another mode of transportation (bike or bus, for example) every month for three months.” If commuters make the pledge, the county will give a $25 incentive in the form of a gift card to use at Shell, Jiffy Lube and other locations.
There are, of course, some inherent problems with King County’s plan. Via KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz,
“First off, let’s go after the low hanging fruit and note the irony of a county wanting you out of your car, willing to give you $25 gift cards to buy gas or get an oil change.
“Not to mention, the pledge is just that: a pledge. You don’t have to provide any proof you’re following up with that pledge (you take a survey after three months and log some of your habits). I believe drivers will just want a free $25 gift card for the extra gas they burn as a result of the traffic mess WSDOT created.”
The plan, like so many that come out of government, makes little to no sense. But, that’s not the only problem with it.
WSDOT is telling the public that the I-405 commute has improved since it implemented the toll lanes. But, if that is true, why is King County essentially paying drivers not to use I-405.
That question becomes still more relevant by the fact that the gift cards are funded through a grant from WSDOT. In turn, the grant was funded to “support local efforts to improve transit mobility and reduce congestion on our most heavily traveled roadways.”
It appears that not even WSDOT is willing to rely on its claims the I-405 tolling scheme will reduce congestion.