Should I-405 tolls stay or go? State lawmakers to decide

KOMO photo

BOTHELL, Wash. - A key anniversary has arrived for the controversial Interstate 405 toll lanes - by law, after two years, state lawmakers must decide if they stay or go.

The electronic toll signs could be taken down if legislators decide the toll lanes are not meeting certain goals set down by law when the lanes were approved.

The law says that the toll lanes have to make enough money to pay for their upkeep - and they have to keep traffic moving at a minimum speed.

And right now it looks like the toll lanes are failing one of those tests - speed.

Figures compiled by the state Department of Transportation show that the express toll lanes move 24 mph faster than the regular lanes during the peak commute.

But the rules say traffic in the toll lanes must average 45 mph at least 90 percent of the time during peak commute times. And the Everett Herald reports the lanes are only doing that an average of 81 percent of the time.

Disgruntled motorists say the tolls are taking money from motorists' pockets but dont seem to be helping to speed up traffic.

"I-405 pretty much sucks, regardless. I mean, sorry, don't know if you can say that or not (on TV), but it doesn't seem to be helping," commuter Brandon King told KOMO News.

The other legal requirement is that the lanes bring in enough money to pay for themselves. State DOT number say they are more than doing that - raking in nearly $33 million while operation and maintenance costs have been around $11 million.

The next step will be for lawmakers to do what is required by law - decide if the express toll lanes are working well enough. If they are not, by law they must be scrapped.

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