I-405 shoulder expansion project to start ahead of schedule

BOTHELL, Wash. -- Opening a right shoulder on I-405 during peak hours between State Route 527 and Interstate 5 has always been the plan, but with the revenue collected from these tolls already, the project will come six months early.

“We have heard from our constituents that the traffic on 405 has become worse,” said Bothell Mayor Andy Rheaume.

However, after months of grid-lock, there is finally some relief in sight. Governor Jay Inslee says Express Toll Lanes on 405 are paying off, to the tune of $11.5 million.

Now that money will be used to add another northbound lane along the shoulder.

“People are seeing that it works for them in terms of giving them some certainty in their commute and they're voting with their feet,” said WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar. However, not everyone agrees this is good news.

“The fact that they have been generating that much money faster than they expected is actually a bad sign of things to come because that's actually going to hit $10 like they have now a lot more often,” said David Hablewitz, one of the founders of Stop405Tolls.org. Hablewitz is one of the founders of www.Stop405Tolls.org.

He says the money used to install the express toll lanes could've been used to make improvements earlier without digging deep into the wallets of commuters.

“The fact that they've spent $111 million dollars to add the tolling mechanisms on the highway,” said Hablewitz. “They could have taken that money three years ago and done this hard shoulder running and still had $100 million left over.”

State leaders stand by the express tolls, saying they haven't just paid off for those who use them but also for those who don't.

“It has also decreased commuting times of three of the four legs for the general purpose users,” said Governor Inslee.

Construction on the project is expected to begin next year, the state is currently taking bids for the project. As for Hablewitz, he plans to continue to fight to get rid of tolls altogether.