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State to improve access to SR167 HOT lanes this summer

Changes to the state Route 167 HOT lanes are coming this summer. - Ross Coyle, Kent Reporter
Changes to the state Route 167 HOT lanes are coming this summer.
— image credit: Ross Coyle, Kent Reporter

The Washington State Department of Transportation is predicting a HOT (lanes) summer this year.

A planned three-week striping project means big changes to – and easier use of – the state Route 167 HOT lanes.

Today, June 3, the Washington State Department of Transportation awarded a $242,000 contract to Specialized Pavement Marking, Inc. The contractor will remove striping and update signage on the SR167 HOT lanes, enabling drivers to enter and exit the lanes along nearly the entire length of the corridor between Renton and Auburn.

“Drivers have repeatedly told us their number one issue with the HOT lanes is access. They don’t like the limited entrance and exit points,” said Craig Stone, assistant secretary, toll division, in a press release.

In a 2012 survey, 40 percent of HOT lanes drivers responded that they didn’t like the current access. Sound Transit, which relies on the HOT lanes to efficiently move thousands of riders each day, agrees.

“HOT lanes benefit not only bus riders, who appreciate fast and reliable service, but drivers, who appreciate that every bus rider takes a car off the road,” said Sound Transit Deputy CEO Mike Harbour. “It’s challenging for a bus to merge across multiple lanes of traffic and enter the HOT lane at a specific point. We support WSDOT looking at how this new configuration works.”

Solo drivers will still need a Good To Go! pass to use the HOT lanes, and carpoolers will still use the lanes toll-free. The only change is that drivers will have more opportunities to enter and exit the lanes.

Work will take approximately four weeks this summer, and crews will restripe one side of the highway at a time.

As the striping is removed, drivers will be able to start accessing the HOT lanes just like they would an HOV lane. Access will only be restricted by double white lines at the end of the lanes.

Improvements to the HOT lanes are funded by a $520,000 federal grant. As part of the grant, WSDOT will work with the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington to complete a report assessing the HOT lanes’ performance. The report will evaluate changes in areas such as reliability and speed of the HOT and general purpose lanes, customer feedback, and transit operations.

For more information about the SR 167 HOT lanes, visit www.wsdot.wa.gov/tolling/sr167hotlanes.

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