Here, I-405 express toll lanes are in operation in Kirkland. But they haven’t done much to ease rush hour congestion. (Washington State Department of Transportation photo)

Here, I-405 express toll lanes are in operation in Kirkland. But they haven’t done much to ease rush hour congestion. (Washington State Department of Transportation photo)

You said it: One way or another, I-405 is taking its toll

Almost a year into the toll lane adventure on I-405, we’re still stuck in traffic. All that construction and $484 million bought drivers a chance to meditate, plow through their podcast backlogs, and ponder their life choices as they stare at the bumper 3 feet ahead of them.

In our latest poll at HeraldNet.com, we asked how you’d get cars moving. Fifty-seven percent had the same answer: get rid of the tolls and have ordinary HOV lanes.

You’ve made your hatred of toll lanes clear in previous polls, Internet comments, letters to the editor, political campaign fliers, bathroom graffiti, skywriting and aimless public rants on street corners. Who could have predicted that a complicated system that extorts drivers for up to $10 to skip a few miles of traffic would be so unpopular?

Those toll lanes look nice and juicy, so opening them might loosen things up – for a stretch. It also would discourage people from taking buses and would kick the traffic bottleneck down the road. At least it would feel good to watch the ridiculously complex toll lane signs come down.

Some of you have other ideas. A quarter of voters said to add more lanes, whatever the cost, while 9 percent said the plan to allow shoulder driving will help a lot. Both of these options involve adding more pavement, which unfortunately always attracts more vehicles.

Five percent said to expand tolling. Before you ask: Our polls are anonymous, so there is no way to give these people a piece of your mind.

And 4 percent have abandoned hope, saying there’s nothing more we can reasonably do.

But there has to be a way, right? It might take massive investment in public transportation, or perhaps a revolution in autonomous vehicles, or we could embrace alternative work schedules and virtual workplaces.

Or maybe we should just stock up on podcasts. It’s going to be a long drive.

— Doug Parry, parryracer@gmail.com; @parryracer

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