Gov. Inslee says state won't eliminate I-405 tolling

Inslee Transportation 405 Toll
Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday he won't eliminate tolling on Interstate 405, as some drivers have begged him to do. But he does have plans to make the traffic situation better on one of the state's busiest roadways.

The changes the governor highlighted during a news conference in Shoreline, Washington, at the State Department of Transportation's new transportation management center include:

-New northbound general-purpose lanes at choke points north of Bellevue, including turning some shoulders into lanes.

-Better striping and signage to help drivers figure out where they can enter express lanes.

-Longer access points to the express lanes.

Inslee also announced that tolls would be turned off on nights, weekends and holidays when they are not needed to help with congestion.

Inslee stressed the tolling system is a two-year pilot effort and the effort is working well. State officials are learning a lot from the experience and continually working to improve the situation for drivers, he said.

"This is a learning process the entire state is undergoing," Inslee said.

Although some people have already called the program a failure because drivers have seen their northbound evening commutes increase by an average of four minutes, according to the governor, Inslee said no lawmakers have proposed a bill to change the system they set up.

About 600,000 have shown the state what they think of the program by using the new express lanes, Inslee added. "That tells us something that somebody is getting some benefit from this package," the governor said.

In other planned transportation improvements, Inslee said he plans to ask the Legislature for $10 million to pay for 10 new incident-response teams for Interstate 5 to quickly clear collisions and provide roadside help.

The governor also talked about plans to replace dozens of aging expansion joints along I-5 from Marysville to Federal Way. "These changes are designed to produce real impacts for real people," Inslee said.

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