Tell state your opinion of tolling I-405 ‘HOT’ lanes

Anyone who commutes on I-405 has a chance to weigh in on fees for new toll lanes planned on the freeway in the coming years.

The state plans to invest $334 million to create one or two toll lanes, or “HOT” lanes as they’re sometimes called, between Lynnwood and the Pierce County line on I-405 and Highway 167.

The project will be done in two phases, the first being Lynnwood to Bellevue in 2015. The rest is targeted to begin in 2018.

The toll lanes allow drivers to pay to drive in a less-congested lane during heavy traffic, to spread out the traffic between regular lanes and toll lanes and collect revenue. Fees, which have not been determined, would be levied electronically like bridge tolls. The state Transportation Commission is expected to set rates as soon as early 2014.

The commission has been gathering input on the plan. The next opportunity to speak to the panel in person is an all-day meeting scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 22600 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell.

An advisory group of local government officials along the corridor is expected to make a recommendation to the commission the following day, Nov. 20, at a meeting in Kirkland.

The lanes would be divided into three areas — Lynnwood-Bellevue, Bellevue-Renton and Renton-Pacific. One study assumed a minimum toll of 50 cents per area to start, increasing to 75 cents in 2018.

Rates will depend partly on how far a driver will travel. The toll will automatically increase and decrease based on how many people are using the lanes.

The toll automatically increases when traffic in the express toll lanes is heavier and decreases when traffic is lighter.

As drivers approach the entry point to the express toll lanes, they will see a sign listing up to three destinations. The toll for each destination at the time is the price of that trip.

Planners have determined that allowing two-person carpools to ride for free in the toll lanes at all hours would discourage single drivers from paying to use the lanes and would not bring in enough revenue to make the lanes worthwhile.

The remaining options would be to allow three-person carpools ride for free; allow three-person carpools to ride for free at peak times; allow two-person carpools to ride for free at off-peak times; or allow all carpools to receive a discount.

For more information on the project, go to tinyurl.com/WSDOThot.

Written comments are being accepted. They can be sent to the Washington State Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504-7308. The email address is transc@wstc.wa.gov. The phone number is 360-705-7070.

Comments also may be submitted on a feedback page.

New signal on Highway 99: A new traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 99 and Gibson Road in south Everett is set to be activated Thursday evening.

That stretch of road has been the site of many accidents over the past five years and the new signal should help reduce this risk, according to the state Transportation Department. The $2.7 million project also includes new sidewalks in that area, a broader shoulder and better drainage.

E-mail us at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.

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