What's next for DOT after Secretary is Ousted?

BELLEVUE, Wash. - Now that Washington’s Department of Transportation Secretary has been fired by state Republicans, many are wondering what’s next for the Department of Transportation projects that are already planned - specifically the I-405 toll lanes that have turned into a nightmare for drivers.

According to WSDOT, drivers make about 450,000 trips between Lynnwood and Bellevue, every week day.

An on-line petition to have the tolls repealed has already been signed by 30,000 people.

"The tolling needs to be gone," said David Hablewitzstop with the group Stop 405 Tolls. "That is not doing anything to solve the problem."

The group has been working for months to eliminate the toll lanes.

“It`s creating more problems than it`s solving,” Hablewitzstop said.

It’s also what might have brought Lynn Peterson down.

The toll lanes, from Lynnwood to Bellevue, were part her plan to help alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow in south Snohomish and northeast King counties.

However, drivers were furious when tolls reached $10 in December and drivers say the lanes create longer commutes.

“All it`s doing is displacing the cars from one lane to another or onto the surface streets,” Hablewitzstop said.

Senate Republicans ousted Peterson on Friday, without any warning, when they voted not to confirm her.

Governor Jay Inslee appointed Peterson three years ago.

On Monday, WSDOT wouldn`t comment on Peterson`s removal, but the Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Roger Millar, who is in charge for now, sent an email to all WSDOT workers addressing what`s next.

“While we no longer have the benefit of her leadership, we still have jobs to do.," he wrote. "We have highways to maintain, vessels to operate, projects to develop and deliver and relationships to maintain in the communities that we serve."

Governor Inslee didn`t hold back his anger about Peterson`s firing.

“Senate Republicans are conducting a dishonest, partisan, and frankly scurrilous political campaign," Inslee said.

The governor said Peterson lived up to her responsibilities, which also includes the 520 bridge project and replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel.

Peterson ordered Seattle`s tunnel boring machine, Bertha, to stop moving until steps can be taken to make sure that project is safe.