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167 HOT lanes to open on Saturday

A sign notifies drivers of a HOT lane access point on southbound Highway 167 in Renton. The HOT lanes open this Saturday. - Matt Brashears/Renton Reporter
A sign notifies drivers of a HOT lane access point on southbound Highway 167 in Renton. The HOT lanes open this Saturday.
— image credit: Matt Brashears/Renton Reporter

HOT lanes

Several miles of the Valley Freeway will turn HOT on Saturday.

Crews finally got the dry weather they needed last weekend to finish the second white stripe that will separate the HOT lanes from the general purpose lanes.

Washington’s first-ever high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes will begin offering solo drivers a new choice for their commute on State Route 167. It is all part of a pilot project that will assess how variable tolling can help make the state’s roadways more efficient and less congested.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is converting nine miles of a pre-existing high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane in each direction of the Valley Freeway between Renton and Auburn to a single HOT lane. With HOT lanes, drivers will have the choice to pay an electronic toll without ever slowing or stopping and escape traffic backups.

There will be no toll booths. The toll will be collected by the same Good To Go! transponders currently in use on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Carpools carrying two people or more, vanpools, transit and motorcycles will continue to use the HOT lanes toll-free and do not need a transponder.

Tolls will range from 50 cents to $9, generally between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The tolling system will be turned off the rest of the day unless traffic congestion persists after 7 p.m., according to DOT.

The toll will fluctuate with the traffic levels. The heavier the traffic, the higher the toll. The amount of the toll will be flashing on reader boards at highway onramps.

“The HOT lanes project is just one example of several new transportation innovations that WSDOT is investigating as tools to make our highways more efficient in moving more people,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “Building additional highway capacity is part of the solution, but that alone won’t prepare us for the ever increasing demands on our roadways and bridges.”

The HOT lanes will cover 12 miles in the northbound lanes, from 15th Street Southwest in Auburn to I-405 in Renton. There are six onramps to the highway in the tolled northbound lanes. There are nine miles of HOT lanes southbound, from I-405 to about South 288th Street. There are four entrances to the highway in the tolled southbound lanes.

The “no double-crossing” rule – the double white line – will be enforced for all vehicles by the Washington State Patrol. With the double white stripes, drivers can no longer weave in and out of the carpool lane.

Instead they must enter or exit the lane at six northbound and four southbound access zones or risk a $124 ticket. Drivers must pay attention to signs and dashed striping that mark the quarter-mile-long zones.

To open a Good To Go! account and obtain a transponder, log on to www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo and fill out an electronic application form, or call customer service at 1-866-936-8246.

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