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I-405 express toll lane expansion work ramping up

Drivers have been using the I-405 express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood for five years. Now it’s time to expand that system from Bellevue to Renton.

Regular I-405 drivers have seen work being done on the sides of the freeway between Bellevue and Renton for a few months, including tree removal, grading work, and construction zone set-up. But early next year, the work to widen the freeway will really get going.

The state is adding another lane to the freeway that will be combined with the current HOV lane to create a two-lane Express Toll Lane system, just like the one from Bellevue north. The state is also adding general purpose lanes, known as auxiliary lanes, in two locations.

One will connect the I-90 on-ramp all the way to the 112th Street exit. The second will connect the on-ramp at 44th Avenue to the off-ramp at 30th Avenue. The project will also include a second lane for the southbound I-405 exit to I-90 eastbound.

“We have really looked at those areas that have the chokepoints, and this project will address those as part of it,” I-405 project administrator Lisa Hodgson said.

She said these changes will make a huge difference for congestion.

“Not only will the folks that choose to use those express toll lanes, but the general purpose lanes will also see a benefit out of this as well,” she said. “Things will move better when this project is complete.”

I-405 toll lanes could be here to stay — with no efficiency requirements

If you drive I-405 often, it is pretty clear that there is not a lot of room on either side of the freeway to make this widening happen.

“There isn’t a lot of room, and the terrain is a challenge for us,” Hodgson said. “A lot of the contract is about building walls on both the east and west sides of the freeway so we can accommodate the widening that’s needed.”

That wall-building work is what drivers will start noticing early next year.

The 44th Avenue area, near the Seahawks’ practice facility, will get a much needed upgrade. That is one of the daily chokepoints on that stretch of I-405. There is going to be a direct access off-ramp there for buses, and the on-ramp to northbound is going to moved a bit to allow more room for merging.

“There’s a lot of things happening at 44th,” Hodgson said.  “We have a stream there. We have fish passage. We’re rebuilding the interchange. We have Sound Transit and an inline BRT station there so lots of things that go into making that interchange a better thing.”

Hodgson said it will take about four years to finish this job, and that means a lot of pain for drivers during construction, but she said they are working hard to keep the impacts to a minimum.

“All of the work that needs lane closures will happen at night,” Hodgson said. “That’s part of our contract.”

There will be some full directional closures during the construction, but you will get plenty of notice.

There is also hope for you northbound drivers in the existing express toll lanes. Hodgson said they do have some money to add a second toll lane from 522 north into Lynnwood, but that’s not going to be built for a while.

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