The Aug. 21st story in the Times about the I-405 express toll lanes expected to open Sept 27th typifies the approach of those responsible for the area's transportation system. The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC), surely at the behest of the WSDOT, has decided their objective is “to keep traffic flowing at 45 mph or better on the HOV lanes”. Thus, rather than improving the commute for “Drivers on I-405 who experience some of the worst traffic in the state”, they intend to limit HOV lanes to +3HOV or $10 tolls to ensure they maintain that 45 mph speed. They intend to do so even on the added lane between Bothell and Bellevue where the congestion is the worst.
The WSDOT attitude can best be described by a famous French response to "peasant" concerns, “Let them eat cake”. They simply ignore the fact the “peasants” in this case have provided much of the money to build the lanes. Yet requiring +3HOV or $10.00 tolls for the two lanes means those on the general traffic lanes will undoubtedly face even greater congestion than before.
It would be nice if the “peasants” had the option of public transit. However, like the WSDOT, Sound Transit seems to have little interest in providing it. ST532 and ST535, their routes from Everett and Lynnwood, are limited to 15 buses during the 3-hour morning commute. They could probably fill ten times that number if they chose to provide additional P&R lots and bus routes connecting them to Bellevue and Overlake.
The bottom line is the WSDOT would rather have the toll money than reduce congestion. Sound Transit would rather spend their billions on light rail extensions that will do nothing to reduce the area's congestion than a fraction of that on added parking and bus routes. If allowed to continue the area’s commuters will be “eating cake” for a very long time.