CHOKEPOINTS

Tolling equipment not immune to freezing weather; chain fines rise

Jan 16, 2024, 6:04 AM

Image:The I-405 express toll lanes (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Transportation Center)...

The I-405 express toll lanes (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Transportation Center)

(Photo courtesy of the Washington State Transportation Center)

It’s back to normal for drivers on 405 and 167.

The cold weather has been bursting water pipes and putting the Pacific Northwest in a deep freeze the last few days.  That severe cold has also been messing with the state’s tolling equipment on 405 and 167.  We got word over the weekend that the tolling division had turned off the equipment on those two freeways because it wasn’t generating consistent tolls.  The toll lanes were HOV only both Sunday and Monday.

The Washington Department of Transportation tells me it’s likely the fiber optic cables froze. That can prevent the communication flow through the system.

What’s odd is the deep freeze only impacted 405 and 167 and not 99 and 520.  WSDOT isn’t sure why only certain cables were impacted. Engineers are searching for the reason. The 167 tolling system has had cold weather issues in the past.

We’re back to normal operations today.

Drivers over Snoqualmie Pass have been seeing a lot of state troopers lately.

The pass has been shut down several times this winter because of accidents, spin-outs and drivers who refuse to follow the road restrictions.  As we’ve talked about, any vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds needs to carry chains from November to April.

Troopers have not been shy about enforcement this winter.

In the last week, troopers have ticketed 159 people for not having their chains on when required on Snoqualmie Pass. This includes commercial and non-commercial vehicles.  Another 23 people were ticketed for not carrying chains.

The ticket price for these violations is $500.

And I have an update on the lane shift on I-5 in Fife that we talked about last week.

The contractor was able to squeeze in the southbound shift to the left in between bad weather last week. Drivers in Fife are now driving on the inside lanes of the new bridge over Hylebos Creek.

The northbound shift was supposed to happen tonight. It has been postponed until next Tuesday.

 

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