I-405 congestion-easing project to begin earlier than planned

BOTHELL, Wash. — Higher-than-expected toll collections will allow the state to speed up a project to ease congestion for afternoon commuters on northbound I-405 through Bothell.

Gov. Jay Inslee and state transportation officials announced Wednesday the $11.5 million project to open the right shoulder between Highway 527 and I-5 to all vehicles will be done next summer rather than in early 2018 as originally expected.

The project, which will cover about 1.8 miles, entails hardening the existing shoulder and installing signs to let commuters know when the shoulder is available as a lane. State officials expect it to be open daily from 3-7 p.m. and when congestion is especially bad.

The Department of Transportation is pressing ahead because it expects to have the money to cover costs. As of June, toll collections totaled $12.4 million, nearly $9 million more than the agency forecast when the lanes opened in September. By June 2017, revenues are predicted to be $21 million higher than forecast.