The Washington State Department of Transportation encourages drivers to plan ahead for a new-look I-405 commute beginning Monday, Sept. 28. WSDOT Sunday opened 17 miles of express toll lanes on Interstate 405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood.
Volumes in express toll lanes will likely be low during the first few months, but then increase over time. This could mean additional congestion to the regular lanes during peak hours. “We expect a period of adjustment—maybe six months, maybe a year—as I-405 drivers learn how to use the new system,” said WSDOT Assistant Secretary Craig Stone. “Once drivers get comfortable, this system will move more people, more efficiently in both the express toll lanes and the regular lanes.”
There are several major changes drivers should prepare for:
· The new carpool rules set by the Washington State Transportation Commission will require three or more people during weekday commute periods from 5 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Two people qualify as a carpool all other times, including weekends.
· Qualifying carpools must have a Good To Go! account and Flex Pass set to HOV mode to travel toll-free in the express toll lanes. In addition, motorcyclists must have a Good To Go! motorcycle pass to ride toll free in the express toll lanes. WSDOT is offering one free motorcycle through a brief online survey while supplies last.
· New double white lines mean drivers may only enter and exit the express toll lanes at designated access points marked by a dashed white line. Drivers who illegally cross the double white line could receive a $136 ticket from Washington State Patrol. WSDOT developed an interactive map of entry and exit points to help drivers plan their trips in the express toll lanes and understand how the toll-rate signs work.
“Drivers should remain alert and exercise caution when entering and exiting the express toll lanes, said Stone. “And remember, the state patrol will be out there enforcing the new system, so please be mindful of the signs and lines.”
While carpoolers must have a Flex Pass set to HOV mode to travel toll-free in the new lanes, toll-paying customers can use any existing Good To Go! pass or pay by mail for a higher rate. All Good To Go! passes are available for purchase online or by phone at 1-866-936-8246.
The fastest way to buy a Flex Pass is through your local QFC, Fred Meyer or Walgreens after calling ahead. Make sure to activate your pass through a Good To Go! account online at MyGoodToGo.com. You may also visit the Bellevue Customer Service Center at 13107 NE 20th Street, Suites 3 & 4, open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday Oct. 23.
Customers visiting or calling the customer service center are experiencing long wait times.
Express toll lane trip information will not appear in customer accounts or in the Good To Go! system for several days. Pay By Mail drivers will receive a bill two weeks after their trip. Drivers with a Flex Pass in HOV mode will not see any trip information on their account.