A panel of five transportation experts from around the country is going to meet officials from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and provide insight on the department’s study of a possible 50-mile express toll lane system on I-405 and SR 167. The system would offer drivers a reliable express trip through traffic by paying an electronic toll that varies with congestion levels.
“The panel provides a fresh and neutral perspective to our study of a future Eastside Corridor express toll lanes system,” said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “These national experts will review our analysis and findings to ensure they are viable and consistent with national and regional strategies for operating roadways more efficiently.”
Panel participants represent five different areas of transportation expertise, including academics, policy, planning, operations and financing. Panel members include:
- Academic: Ginger Goodin from the Texas Transportation Institute of the Texas A&M University System;
- Transportation Policy: Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation;
- Transportation Planning: Chuck Fuhs with Parsons Brinckerhoff in Houston;
- Express Toll Operations: Jennifer Tsien, working with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise; and
- Financing: Janet Lee of Public Resource Advisory Group.
The panel will meet three times beginning in September, and at the end of the year will issue a findings report addressing four areas of interest, including policy, methodology, phasing and finances.
In May 2009, the state legislature directed WSDOT to conduct a traffic and revenue study, including potential funding for future improvements and high-occupancy toll (HOT) or express toll lanes on I-405 to complement the existing SR 167 HOT lanes. WSDOT completed the study and delivered a final report to the legislature in January 2010.
Through nine months of analysis, public outreach and consultation with elected officials, the department concluded:
- Express toll lanes can move more people and vehicles through the corridor compared with adding general-purpose lanes;
- Express toll lanes could provide additional revenue and help fund other improvements in the corridor;
- Implementing express toll lanes on I-405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood is possible with current funding and would provide important information to assist with financing an expanded Eastside Corridor system; and
- Commuters support express toll lanes, especially after using them (such as SR 167 HOT lanes) and experiencing how they relieve congestion.