The Interstate 405 tolling scheme between Lynnwood and Bellevue has proved to be a frustrating mess for commuters, many of whom are desperate enough to pay as much as $20 round trip just to escape the traffic. That’s why GOP state Rep. Mark Harmsworth and GOP state Senator Andy Hill introduced legislation that would eliminate one of I-405’s under-utilized toll lanes, and let the drivers (who already paid for the lane through gas taxes) use it as a general-purpose lane. Additionally, their bill would make other changes intended to reduce congestion on the busy roadway.
More specifically, the proposal would scale back WSDOT’s I-405 express lane tolling project. Currently, there are two toll lanes in each direction. The bill would leave in place one new tolling lane in each direction on I-405, but convert it to an HOV lane outside of rush hour and, like the old HOV lanes, would open it to all traffic starting at 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning.
The bill has garnered bi-partisan support in both legislative bodies, with a handful of Democrats jumping on board. Unfortunately, there is one key Democrat lawmaker who appears intent on destroying the legislation.
Democrat State Representative Judy Clibborn, chair of the Transportation Committee, has refused to give the bill a hearing. According to MyNorthwest.com, she doesn’t like the bill and argues, “A major overhaul is premature at this point.”
In other words, as KIRO’s Jason Rantz put it, Clibborn is abusing her power to “stifle an important debate on a bill that would otherwise pass.” Rantz,
“Because she’s unwilling to come on my show to explain directly to the audience why she’s abusing her power, let’s go to her. Please consider giving her a call or sending her an email to respectfully request she change her mind and stop stifling debate. Her office phone number is 360-786-7926 and her office email is [email protected]. Let her know it’s wrong to use personal opinions to get in the way of the will of the people and we’re not going to put up with it anymore – whether it’s being done by a Democrat or a Republican.”
Stay tuned to see whether or not Clibborn decides to respect the public, and her fellow lawmakers.