If you use I-405, you may need to find a new friend or start saving money for a toll in order to use the HOV lanes next year. Earlier this month, it was reported that Reema Griffith, the director of the Washington State Transportation Commission, is beginning talks in Olympia to change the carpool requirements on 405 from two people to three people. However, the proposed occupancy requirements would allow drivers to use the carpool lanes without meeting the three person requirement if they pay for a toll.
Of the current HOV lane situation, Griffith claims that “during peak periods, it’s failing… it’s stopping. It’s congested just like the general purpose lanes.” According to Griffith, the only option is to tighten restrictions on the lanes and impose tolls, between SR 522 and I-5 in Lynwood, to those already in place on State Route 167 between Auburn and Renton. Express toll lanes like the ones in use on SR-167 save drivers an average of 8 minutes in their commute.
Some are wary that this plan will lead to restricting access to all carpool lanes on 405. Or, that the plan could even lead to all roads becoming toll roads. Griffith claims that there is no need to expand these increased restrictions to any other areas at the moment, but will be addressing certain stretches of freeway on a case-by-case basis.
The commission in Olympia that is looking into this proposal is still in the early stages of discussion and will have a more concrete plan by the end of November. Additionally, they will be holding public meetings and taking public comment through January.