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Proposal to increase I-405 and SR 167 tolling rates to $15 max takes step forward

Lawmakers directed a commission to review rates in hopes of reducing traffic volume in toll lanes and raising money for construction work.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Transportation Commission voted Wednesday to move forward on a proposal that would raise tolling rates on Interstate 405 and state Route 167 in hopes of reducing traffic in toll lanes and raising money for construction. 

There is time for public comment before a final vote in January. If approved, the increase would take effect in March.

Toll rates adjust depending on traffic volume. Under the proposed change, rates for I-405 and SR 167 would range from $1 during low traffic times to $15 during high traffic times. 

The transportation commission said legislators asked them to review options for raising tolls in the transportation budget, citing construction work that would be over its expected budget. The change would also reduce demand for the tolling lanes, helping to reducing traffic and make them more effective for car drivers and public transportation, according to the commission.

Driver Adrian Silva said his overall commute, which includes I-405, takes him one hour and 15 minutes. He said, generally, the toll lane is not worth it for him. 

"I go, OK, that's gonna be an hour and 15 minutes, I look at the guys [in the toll lane] and they're like five minutes faster than me. I'm like, no, I'm not gonna take it," Silva said. 

Still, he's supportive of raising costs if they will help address traffic infrastructure in other corridors as well. In this particular case, the money would target the I-405/SR167 corridor.

Driver Ethan Pounds also takes I-405 often.

"It's not great especially early in the morning, about 6:00, 6:30, it's terrible and if there's an accident, it shuts down all of 405 for a good mile or so, and on the way back from Redmond or Bellevue to Everett- it's pretty bad," Pounds said. "Usually if I'm late to work I'll take the toll lane and it usually helps a little bit."

Pounds said he would not pay $15 personally, but has a measured opinion of the proposal.

"It seems like too much since they're already pretty high but it also makes sense to me at the same time to keep traffic flowing through pretty easily," Pounds said.

In mid-2024 to early 2025, the commission also plans to consider other policy adjustments to toll policies in preparation for the new Renton to Bellevue express toll. 

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