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Advisory group reviews carpool options for I-405 express toll lanes

A local advisory group will discuss how different carpool scenarios could affect traffic and revenue potential on Interstate 405 and State Route 167 at a meeting Thursday in Renton.

The group's recommendations will help inform a project-funding-and-phasing plan for a future 40-mile long express toll lane system, encompassing I-405 express toll lanes and SR 167 HOT lanes. The Washington State Department of Transportation is scheduled to deliver the plan to the Governor and Legislature at the end of the year.

WSDOT will provide the group of 30 elected officials and transportation agency representatives from throughout the Puget Sound Region with information about forecasted toll revenues for the carpool options under consideration. They will also learn how different funding methods could speed up or slow down construction of future improvements in the congested Bellevue to Renton corridor.

Based on these findings and other analysis, the group will work to narrow the range of carpool options, which includes:

• 2-plus carpools ride free

• 3-plus carpools ride free

• 3-plus carpools ride free at all times, 2+ carpools ride free at off-peak times

• All carpools receive a discount

"When we consider these carpool options, we're thinking not only about how each scenario will keep traffic moving in the corridor, but also how best to generate revenue to help fund future improvements," said Kim Henry, I-405/SR 167 program director.

The meeting will take place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Renton Community Center, 1715 SE Maple Valley Highway. The public is welcome to attend and provide comments. Meeting summaries and materials from the two meetings in January and February of this year and for upcoming meetings are available online at: www.wsdot.wa.gov/tolling/eastsidecorridor.

The leaders, known as the Executive Advisory Group, have been advising WSDOT and partner agencies on I-405 corridor improvements since the late 90's.

Similar to SR 167 HOT lanes, the I-405 express toll lanes will operate as an expressway within a highway, offering a faster trip for carpools, transit, vanpools, and toll-paying drivers. I-405 express toll lanes will offer drivers the option to use the lanes by paying a toll. The first phase of express toll lanes on I-405 is under construction between Bellevue and Lynnwood and is scheduled to open to traffic in 2015.

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