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Author Topic: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project  (Read 2439 times)

stevashe

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I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« on: June 06, 2021, 11:47:32 PM »

This project may not be quite as big and flashy as some of the other large projects in the Seattle area, but I think it deserves its own thread, especially now that construction has begun throughout the length of the project.

Anyway, this project is adding an additional lane to I-405 in both directions between SR 167 in Renton and NE 6th St in Bellevue. This new lane will combine with the existing HOV lane to provide two express toll lanes in each direction, similar to the existing segment between NE 6th St and SR 522. The main difference here is that there are only 2 lanes available to general purpose traffic instead of three. I found a nice graphic summarizing the changes while digging around in the RFP for the project. It shows that there are also auxiliary lanes being added in the southbound direction between I-90 and 112th Ave SE, as well as between NE 44th St and NE 30th St (shown in green), which I was not aware of before. Having an extra lane from I-90 to 112th is an especially welcome improvement given the giant weaving mess created by the current configuration where two lanes enter from I-90 then immediately exit at Coal Creek Pkwy. This also compliments an auxiliary lane already added in the northbound direction in the same area in 2008-2009.



Work currently being done is mostly clearing and some preliminary grading, mostly near the 30th, 44th, and I-90 Interchanges. The most significant work is probably at the 44th interchange, which will feature a direct ramp to the express lanes and not one, not two, but THREE roundabouts! I guess those circular intersections are here to stay in Western Washington. The visualization of the completed interchange is shown below.



Project completion is expected in 2024, though if that includes testing for the tolling system, I suspect actual construction will be done earlier.

What are everyone's thoughts on this? I'm really looking forward to the express lanes extending all the way to Renton instead of ending in Bellevue like they do now.
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vdeane

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2021, 01:11:50 PM »

Are they HOT lanes or just regular toll lanes?  I can't imagine that HOV traffic would be happy with losing their lane if they're just regular toll lanes.
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TEG24601

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2021, 03:16:29 PM »

Are they HOT lanes or just regular toll lanes?  I can't imagine that HOV traffic would be happy with losing their lane if they're just regular toll lanes.


If you have the number of persons in the vehicle that are designated for that period, and your transponder is blocked, the travel is free in the HOT lanes.  If the transponder isn't blocked or you don't have enough persons, then it is tolled.
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stevashe

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2021, 06:38:36 PM »

Are they HOT lanes or just regular toll lanes?  I can't imagine that HOV traffic would be happy with losing their lane if they're just regular toll lanes.

I assume they will have the same operation as the current Express Toll Lanes (which also replaced a standard HOV 2+ lane), which are free to HOV 3+ during peak commute, but then only require HOV 2+ to ride free in the middle of the day (9am-3pm). And yes, you do need a transponder set to HOV mode to get the free ride, if you don't have a transponder you'll be billed by the pay by plate system, regardless of the number of occupants.

The current HOV lane is very over utilized so it's barely faster right now anyway, so they wouldn't be losing much, anyway.
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ErmineNotyours

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2021, 12:27:33 AM »

The most significant work is probably at the 44th interchange, which will feature a direct ramp to the express lanes and not one, not two, but THREE roundabouts! I guess those circular intersections are here to stay in Western Washington.

Four roundabouts.  There's one more in the background.
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jakeroot

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2021, 03:57:48 AM »

The current HOV lane is quite fun as, like the 167, it only has HOV restrictions from 5am to 7pm. On my trips from Bellevue back down south, I often delay my return until after 7 so I can utilise the lane. Even the flyover at the 167 is signed for 5am to 7pm, so you better believe I use that thing too. Oh, and of course, the 167 HOT lanes are ALSO 5am to 7pm, so I can use them too. It's a real treat!

Still, I would rather the new setup where I can simply pay to use the lane(s) when I need them. Right now, it's a total cluster-F and no matter how much spare change you have, you're going to wait.

Leaving Bellevue southbound has to be one of my least favorite drives in the state. Quite gorgeous scenery, as with most places, but the traffic is just immense at rush hour. This will be a welcome improvement.
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jrouse

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2021, 10:13:19 AM »

Are they HOT lanes or just regular toll lanes?  I can't imagine that HOV traffic would be happy with losing their lane if they're just regular toll lanes.
They are HOT lanes.  WSDOT uses the term “express toll lanes” for this facility. 
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jakeroot

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2021, 01:22:40 PM »

Are they HOT lanes or just regular toll lanes?  I can't imagine that HOV traffic would be happy with losing their lane if they're just regular toll lanes.
They are HOT lanes.  WSDOT uses the term “express toll lanes” for this facility.

Not sure what the situation is in California, but 'HOT lanes' and 'express toll lanes' are not the same thing up here. HOT lanes do not require a toll tag to use the HOV lanes for free, whereas express toll lanes currently do (you are automatically billed by mail if no transponder is present).

The 167 uses HOT lanes, whereas the 405 would be a continuation of the existing 'express toll lanes' that currently end in downtown Bellevue. The long-term question is whether WSDOT will convert the 167 to an express toll lane. Everyone who uses the 405 express toll lanes for free can use the 167 HOT lanes for free, but not everyone who uses the 167 HOT lanes for free can use the 405 express toll lanes for free.

When the 167 first launched, it did not have any sort of 'flex' tag option. WSDOT offered a shield that could be applied to keep drivers from being tolled, but I don't know how many people have these (we used to tape it to the window when we needed it). One major issue that WSDOT will need to consider are those who still have the older transponders (large square decals or even the smaller rectangular decals offered for the Narrows Bridge), as they currently have no way to "tell" the 405 that they are either HOV or not HOV; if they still have the old shield thing, that would just tell the system that they don't have a transponder and they'll get billed by mail.

The goal of this project is to create continuous toll lanes from Puyallup (eventually) to Lynnwood, so they need to reconcile the differences between the two systems at some point to avoid unintentional billing or violations: the former is most likely when 167 HOV traffic enters the 405 express toll lanes expecting to continue their free ride, only to get a mailed bill, and the latter occurs when a solo driver using the 405 express toll lanes without a transponder (aka, paying by mail) continues onto the 167 HOT lanes, which they cannot use solo without a transponder (there is no pay by mail system on the 167, so they would be ticketed).
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jrouse

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I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2021, 02:11:11 PM »

A HOT lane is an HOV lane that is opened to toll paying vehicles.  That is what they are doing on I-405. Yes, they are requiring HOVs to carry a transponder and they may be raising the number of occupants needed to qualify as an HOV.  A true “express toll lane” is one where everybody pays.  Both types of facilities are a type of a priced (tolled) managed lane.  The MUTCD requires that priced managed lanes be signed as “express lanes” (SR-167 predates that requirement which is why you don’t see them labeled that way).   I figure WSDOT added the word “toll” for the I-405 in order to minimize confusion with the “express lanes” that are found elsewhere in Seattle.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2021, 02:23:56 PM by jrouse »
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stevashe

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2021, 03:11:50 PM »

The current HOV lane is quite fun as, like the 167, it only has HOV restrictions from 5am to 7pm. On my trips from Bellevue back down south, I often delay my return until after 7 so I can utilise the lane. Even the flyover at the 167 is signed for 5am to 7pm, so you better believe I use that thing too. Oh, and of course, the 167 HOT lanes are ALSO 5am to 7pm, so I can use them too. It's a real treat!

Do you have any experience with the existing express toll lanes? They are free not only at night at 7pm and before 5am, but also on the weekends. The vast majority of my trips on northern I-405 have been for free in the past year since I've been mainly traveling at night and weekends, for obviously reasons. Definitely a real treat there as well!

A HOT lane is an HOV lane that is opened to toll paying vehicles.  That is what they are doing on I-405. Yes, they are requiring HOVs to carry a transponder and they may be raising the number of occupants needed to qualify as an HOV.  A true “express toll lane” is one where everybody pays.  Both types of facilities are a type of a priced (tolled) managed lane.  The MUTCD requires that priced managed lanes be signed as “express lanes” (SR-167 predates that requirement which is why you don’t see them labeled that way).   I figure WSDOT added the word “toll” for the I-405 in order to minimize confusion with the “express lanes” that are found elsewhere in Seattle.

Yes, that's definitely why the word "toll" is used, otherwise you'd have two very different types of facilities with the same name. Similarly, WSDOT maintains a distinction in the use of "HOT lanes" versus "Express Toll Lanes" at least when communicating with the public to distinguish between whether payment by mail is an option or not, as Jake explained. You are correct that since the I-405 lanes are priced managed lanes, they are HOT lanes when speaking generally, but that's just not the term WSDOT uses, which creates confusion when comparing with priced managed lanes in other areas of the country that go by different names.
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Bruce

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2021, 09:22:50 PM »

Leaving Bellevue southbound has to be one of my least favorite drives in the state. Quite gorgeous scenery, as with most places, but the traffic is just immense at rush hour. This will be a welcome improvement.

Agreed. I do not bother trying to do that trip between noon and dinnertime due to the traffic and idiots who can't weave properly.

It's too bad that the BRT line (Stride S1) tied to this project will have substandard stations in the Renton area. Only one stop at the freeway-adjacent South Renton park and ride instead of serving the current downtown hub or something for the Landing.

ErmineNotyours

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2021, 10:12:19 PM »

Leaving Bellevue southbound has to be one of my least favorite drives in the state. Quite gorgeous scenery, as with most places, but the traffic is just immense at rush hour. This will be a welcome improvement.

Agreed. I do not bother trying to do that trip between noon and dinnertime due to the traffic and idiots who can't weave properly.

It's too bad that the BRT line (Stride S1) tied to this project will have substandard stations in the Renton area. Only one stop at the freeway-adjacent South Renton park and ride instead of serving the current downtown hub or something for the Landing.

But that's the purpose of the modern, ultra fast [cough, cough] RapidRide F bus.  They're currently tearing up the streets in Downtown Renton to return them to two-way and discourage express through buses.  But you can wait 15 minutes to catch a bus in the wrong direction to wait another 15 minutes for the bus to Bellevue.  Currently that bus serves downtown, but only runs once an hour on weekends.
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Henry

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2021, 10:27:08 AM »

I say bring it on! As I'm currently based in Seattle itself, I don't drive I-405 much anyway, but once it's finished, I'll tour it the first chance I get.
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jakeroot

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2021, 12:54:08 PM »

The current HOV lane is quite fun as, like the 167, it only has HOV restrictions from 5am to 7pm. On my trips from Bellevue back down south, I often delay my return until after 7 so I can utilise the lane. Even the flyover at the 167 is signed for 5am to 7pm, so you better believe I use that thing too. Oh, and of course, the 167 HOT lanes are ALSO 5am to 7pm, so I can use them too. It's a real treat!

Do you have any experience with the existing express toll lanes? They are free not only at night at 7pm and before 5am, but also on the weekends. The vast majority of my trips on northern I-405 have been for free in the past year since I've been mainly traveling at night and weekends, for obviously reasons. Definitely a real treat there as well!

Most of my trips north of Bellevue generally are to points well north of Bellevue. Considering I live in Tacoma, I don't much use 405 apart from going to Bellevue-proper. The lone exception is when I'm with my girlfriend. We usually default to 405 when going up north (Bellingham, Skagit Valley, etc) because of where she lives, whereas I usually just stay on I-5 when I leave Tacoma. But as to your point, I am aware that the 405 north of Bellevue is also free before 5/after 7, but I'm just so rarely up there that it doesn't immediately occur to me, and my primary interaction with open-HOV lanes is 405 south of Bellevue and the 167; the 16 has a 24/7 HOV lane, for what it's worth.
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stevashe

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Re: I-405 Express Toll Lanes Renton to Bellevue Project
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2021, 06:55:06 PM »

When the 167 first launched, it did not have any sort of 'flex' tag option. WSDOT offered a shield that could be applied to keep drivers from being tolled, but I don't know how many people have these (we used to tape it to the window when we needed it). One major issue that WSDOT will need to consider are those who still have the older transponders (large square decals or even the smaller rectangular decals offered for the Narrows Bridge), as they currently have no way to "tell" the 405 that they are either HOV or not HOV; if they still have the old shield thing, that would just tell the system that they don't have a transponder and they'll get billed by mail.

The goal of this project is to create continuous toll lanes from Puyallup (eventually) to Lynnwood, so they need to reconcile the differences between the two systems at some point to avoid unintentional billing or violations: the former is most likely when 167 HOV traffic enters the 405 express toll lanes expecting to continue their free ride, only to get a mailed bill, and the latter occurs when a solo driver using the 405 express toll lanes without a transponder (aka, paying by mail) continues onto the 167 HOT lanes, which they cannot use solo without a transponder (there is no pay by mail system on the 167, so they would be ticketed).

Just found this project on the WSDOT website: https://wsdot.wa.gov/construction-planning/search-projects/sr-167toll-upgrade-project

Looks like the SR 167 toll equipment will in fact be upgraded to be the same as that on I-405 (including support for differing toll rates by destination), and tolling equipment will be installed along that NB HOV lane extension that is currently under construction from Puyallup to Auburn (guess they just didn't want to install equipment for the current system only to have to tear it down a few years later).

Though, with the completion date listed as 2029, there will still be 5 years of dealing with incongruous tolling systems in the meantime after the Renton to Bellevue ETL extension is complete.
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