The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has a fix for the problem it created with the failing I-405 tolling scheme: shoulder lane driving. Unfortunately, there are a few weaknesses to the proposed solution, most specifically that it’s not really a solution.
According to MyNorthwest.com, the fix would be targeted at addressing the “big chokepoint north of Highway 522, where I-405 changes from five lanes to three.” So, WSDOT’s shoulder lane fix would “only be open during the afternoon commute and only in the northbound direction.”
There are a couple of problems with the plan. First, the plan would be confusing to drivers. Absolutely no barriers would be placed, only signs saying whether the shoulder is open or closed.
Second, the plan may actually make traffic worse due to the fact that there would be nowhere to move a crash during peak hours. Inevitably, when a crash occurs, traffic would slow until it could be addressed.
Third, the shoulder lane “fix” would only begin north of the Canyon Park area. No shoulder driving would be available “where I-405 bogs down between Bothell and Canyon Park.” Moreover, shoulder driving “wouldn’t work with the existing on and off ramps.”
In other words, WSDOT has come up with a terrible solution to fix a terrible problem it created while failing to fix an existing problem. Perhaps it’s time for the agency to admit its incompetence and support GOP lawmakers who have proposed an actual solution. WSDOT should encourage Democrats who are blocking the I-405 fix to get out of the way.