A new state Web page stuck Friday morning, so the wrong toll rates appeared during the Interstate 405 commute, but road signs were correct.
A new Washington state Web page displayed the wrong prices Friday morning for the Interstate 405 express toll lanes. The problem was fixed just before 9 a.m.
Early in the commute, the numbers froze on screen.
So as congestion mounted — and the map itself showed black and red patches — the toll rates looked too low, as if traffic flowed freely.
However, the color codes for congestion worked properly, said Ethan Bergerson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
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Toll-rate signs along the freeway remained accurate, he said, and drivers were charged the correct rates.
A hearing was held Thursday on a bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, to repeal one of the two express toll lanes between Bellevue and Bothell. Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, has joined him.
The state recently paved a new I-405 lane from Bellevue to Bothell, funded by statewide gas taxes. Many years ago, it was to be a general purpose lane. But the Legislature and WSDOT opted to toll it, and the bus-carpool lane that existed.
Express toll lanes allow drivers to buy a faster trip than if they stay in the clogged general-purpose lanes. Buses, motorcycles and carpools of at least three people (two during off-peak hours) may use the express lanes for free, if they have a special FlexPass. Toll rates rise as the lanes fill, to limit entry, so express lanes flow at 45 mph or higher.
Demand has sometimes overwhelmed state predictions. On busy days, the tolls have surpassed $7, $8 or $9, and reached the $10 maximum a few times.
But the greatest problem might not be toll philosophy, but geometry.
Chronic bottlenecks and weaving occur where two toll lanes narrow to one, between Bothell and Lynnwood — at the same time the area’s housing, business and traffic are growing rapidly. There are no direct access ramps from Bothell into the toll lanes.
Friday’s Web page, which went live this week, is maintained by WSDOT and is not the responsibility of the state’s tolling contractor, Texas-based Electronic Transaction Consultants.
Bergeson said the state hasn’t gotten complaints about the Friday Web freeze.
“We fixed it by restarting the server,” he said.
The WSDOT cautioned users that the toll-price website was a courtesy, and there could be occasional errors, he said. The most reliable information is posted along the road.