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Three Speed: New Tolls and Carpooling Requirements Expected To Decongest I-405

courtesy WSDOT
A recent sign commissioning test on the new express toll lanes on I-405

Interstate 405's notoriously crawling traffic might accelerate if the state's new system of express toll lanes and increased carpool minimums works as expected.

Drivers may have already noticed new flashing blue lights as they travel along I-405 between downtown Bellevue and I-5 in Lynnwood.

Patty Rubstello,  director of toll operations for Washington State’s Dept of Transportation, said those lights are part of the camera system for enforcing new tolls aimed at unclogging the highway.

“The current HOV lanes that we have on 405 are essentially congested," she said. "So what we’re doing is by implementing express toll lanes, we’re bringing back some reliability into those lanes."

Two HOV lanes in each direction will now require three people to form a carpool, which should take some cars off the road. Rubstello said cars with fewer people can opt to pay to use those lanes.

“So if you really have to get to the airport on time or you’ve got a doctor’s appointment you just can’t miss, it’s a new option that drivers have.”

Currently the state is testing the system with tolling expected to begin this fall. Rates will start at 75 cents and, at the most congested times, peak at $10 each way.

But state officials say the top rate will be rare.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to