Drivers take note: HOT lanes now open on SR 167

After months of watching the signs, electrical equipment and striping being installed along nine miles of SR 167 between Renton and Auburn, people who drive alone can pay for a variable, electronic toll to travel in the high occupancy toll lane.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Monday, June 2, 2008 1:46pm
  • News

DOT opened lanes Saturday

After months of watching the signs, electrical equipment and striping being installed along nine miles of SR 167 between Renton and Auburn, people who drive alone can pay for a variable, electronic toll to travel in the high occupancy toll lane.

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday drivers began exercising their new freedom to choose on SR 167. HOT lanes, as they are called, opened with a rolling cavalcade, including the State Patrol and WSDOT’s Incident Response Team. Once Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond gave the word, HOT lanes were good to go with a 50 cent toll for solo drivers.

HOT lanes are the latest example of WSDOT’s three-point plan for curbing congestion, known as Moving Washington. The strategy includes adding new road space, offering travelers and commuters more choices to reduce traffic demand and improving the efficiency of the state’s existing highways, which is where HOT lanes come in.

For about a week, drivers on SR 167 have been dealing with the double white stripe that separates the HOT lane from the regular lanes. 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 access zones.

The SR 167 HOT lanes allow drivers to escape traffic back ups when they simply can’t be late. The variable toll increases or decreases with the level of congestion to ensure that traffic in the HOT lane always flows freely. If traffic in the HOT lane slows too much, the lane will revert to HOV only.

There are 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, buses and motorcycles will use the HOT lanes toll-free and do not need a transponder.

During the four-year pilot period, WSDOT will closely monitor and adjust the system to achieve its best performance. The department will report evaluation data to the state Legislature and the Washington State Transportation Commission.

Drivers should remember the following guidelines for HOT lanes:

* Carpoolers with transponders in their vehicles need to use the metal shield to disable the transponder when driving in the HOT lanes. The metal shields are available for $3.50 each from the Good To Go! customer service centers. Call customer service at 1-866-936-8245 (1-866-WDOT2GO) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, to purchase a shield for delivery by May 3.

* Solo drivers who want to use the HOT lanes must open a Good To Go! account and install a transponder on their windshield. Learn how to open an account on the Good To Go! Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo.

Drivers also can get information and open an account in person at these mobile Good To Go! customer service office events:

• 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, at the Renton Wal-Mart, 743 Rainier Avenue S.

• 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Auburn Wal-Mart near the SuperMall, 1425 SuperMall Way.

For more information, view the SR 167 HOT Lanes Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR167/HOTLanes.


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