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Drivers OK with $10 toll lanes, what about $30?

(File, WSDOT)

Many may take a study on the I-405 express lanes with a grain of salt, but there were a few key points made by researchers during a meeting with the Washington State Transportation Commission that people should keep an eye on.

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Mainly the idea that researchers suggest the state create a “more responsive dynamic algorithm,” and toll drivers per segment of toll road, instead of for their entire trip.

That first suggestion would essentially allow prices to increase and decrease every few minutes, much more rapidly than what happens now. Not too alarming, KIRO Radio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan says, and it might make sense.

Tweaking the tolls on express lanes

Another suggestion would have each segment tolled separately. To be clear, there is no official proposal in Washington to toll in segments. Rather, the idea was discussed at the recent commission meeting.

According to the University of Minnesota researchers, the toll rates max out at the current $10 cap about 15 percent of the time during peak periods. That means the drive from Lynnwood to Bothell — driving through three segments — would cost drivers $30 during peak periods.

And it would cost even more if the state adopts the recommendations from researchers. They suggest raising the cap to reduce “breakdown” of the lanes.

They also suggest allowing drivers to go in-and-out of the toll lanes more freely.

“Of the above, the researchers believe that the first two recommendations offer the greatest promise for addressing congestion and improving corridor performance,” a statement from the university read.

The suggestions come as Washington deals with the toll lanes making plenty of money, but not meeting benchmark speeds often enough.

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