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New Bothell Interstate 405 lane is a success, transportation officials say
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) opened a new northbound lane on Interstate 405 through Bothell June 17.
A month later, WSDOT already is crowing about what they say is the success of the lane in reducing traffic congestion in the area.
“It seems to be working,” said WSDOT Public Information Officer Sandy Lam.
According to information released by WSDOT, traffic counts done in the week following the opening of the ramp showed improvement in the average speed on 405 in Bothell, even during peak traffic hours.
State officials completed their traffic study between State Route 520 and Interstate 5, counting cars and tracking speeds from midnight to 9 p.m.
Based on the number of cars using the highway, peak hours run roughly from 3-7 p.m. Lam said officials were careful to compare traffic studies done in the same time frame: June 18-24, 2009, and June 17-23, 2010.
At roughly 5 p.m., when traffic counts on 405 are at their highest, drivers took up to very nearly 30 minutes in 2009 to travel the 15 miles between SR 520 and I-5. This year, the same trip at the same time was taking an average of just over 20 minutes. On the 405 Web site, the state claims cars are moving through the area about 25 mph faster.
With the reduced congestion, WSDOT also says an additional 300 vehicles could share the road, even during peak hours. Officials have promised a follow-up study in about six months.
Lam said the state was inviting comments about the new lane and that she visited the Bothell Park and Ride to speak with drivers.
“In general, people have been very excited,” she said.
In some cases, drivers are reporting reduced travel times of up to 15 minutes, according to Lam.
Running between Northeast 195th Street and State Route 527, the new lane was constructed with $40 million in federal economic stimulus money. Prior to construction, officials said the highest level of congestion hits that stretch of 405 during afternoon drive times as vehicles head north from Bellevue and Kirkland. At the time, a WSDOT analysis predicted a project benefit-to-cost ratio of 4:1, a figure a state spokesperson described as “very, very good.”
“The bang for the buck is really there,” said WSDOT Deputy Director for Project Development Denice Cieri.