WSDOT reports toll volumes “closer to those anticipated after two years,” after just four months

By BOB PISHUE  | 
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Jan 28, 2016

Is this the best it’s going to get on Interstate 405? State transportation officials recently reported that traffic volumes are “higher than expected,” and “closer to those anticipated after two years” of operation.

The new information raises questions about I-405 tolling operations. To start, WSDOT officials projected low tolls and high general purpose speeds the opening year.

They projected average speeds would reach 43mph traveling northbound during the typical afternoon commute between Bellevue and Lynnwood. During that same commute, taking the toll lanes would save you five minutes and cost $0.80:

However, according to the latest WSDOT data release, toll lanes were saving travelers an average of 15 minutes during the four hour peak period, indicating much lower general purpose speeds, and therefore greater congestion, than anticipated.

In fact, WSDOT reports that average speeds heading northbound are 28.4mph, almost 15mph slower than projected. While travel times may not have gotten worse, the results show that general purpose speeds have not improved as promised.

Will the public ever receive the fast speeds and low tolls promised?

We are already four months into tolling and toll prices just hit the $10 cap for the third day in a row. Transportation officials said to give the system between 6-12 months to iron out the kinks, yet the public doesn’t know what to expect. It’s perfectly reasonable for lawmakers and the traveling public to question exactly how things will improve on I-405.