Last week, the state Transportation Commission approved a plan to toll Interstate 405 express lanes from Bellevue to Lynnwood. As Shift reported, carpools will be required to have at least three people during peak hours – up from the current requirement of two people – and an annual pass to use the express lanes for free. Other drivers will “have to pay between 75 cents and $10 — in cases of extreme congestion — to travel one way between Bellevue and Lynnwood, depending on traffic.”
Critics have pointed out that the tolling plans conflict with the primary goal of any transportation system: moving the most people as quickly as possible. The Washington Policy Center points to alternatives for raising revenue while keeping traffic moving,
“If state leaders opted instead for only one HOT lane and left the new lane open to the traveling public as a general purpose lane, even more traffic would move during the I-405 Bothell to Bellevue morning commute (20,600 in general purpose lanes + 4,000 in the HOT lane = 24,600).
“Although this is a rough calculation and other ideas may further maximize throughput, it illustrates other possible alternatives not provided to the public for consideration. Additional questions, like how does the HOT lane configuration compare with the official I-405 Master Plan, have yet to be answered. It is likely, however, that any policy that further maximizes throughput would push state officials even further away from the revenue gains needed to justify the tolling program.
“State officials still have time to make this right, and they should consider all options before increasing fees on the traveling public and restricting traffic flows.”