Regarding the Jan. 10 Street Smarts column, “Relief for north end of I-405 is a long way off”: I am a little concerned that the whole picture hasn’t been discussed. I’m not against the toll roads, but believe the verdict is still out, and all the information should be in front of voters and the Legislature when the demonstration project is up for review in a couple of years. Also that information should be scientifically collected before the bus shoulder lanes are added.
As I understand the I-405 project improvements there were two parts. The first was the addition of a lanes between Bothell (Highway 527) and Bellevue NE Sixth. I understand that road capacity improvement cost was about $460 million. (see clarification/question in following sentences). The second project was to convert the existing HOV lane between I-5 and Bellevue, plus the additional capacity lane to being toll roads for $155 million. I cannot tell, and couldn’t find out if the $155 million was part of the $460 million or in addition. In either case, I think it’s inaccurate to state that it’s the toll lanes that have improved bus times unless you clarify how much the times are for the two sections — the converted existing HOV and the section that has had an additional capacity lane added, but in either case; I would speculate that it’s the addition of the capacity lane that improved travel times south of Bothell, not the addition of tolls.
Again I want to emphasis I am not against tolls, they have many attributes, but believe as a scientist that statistical data should be qualified to truly identify what the cause and impact/benefit are rather than lumping the capacity project in with the toll lane project to get a general answer that may paint a distorted picture.