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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Council Roundup: New members sworn in

Also, council learns about express toll lanes study

The Bellevue City Council's newest members, Jennifer Robertson and Kevin Wallace, were sworn in Monday.

Robertson, a member of the Planning Commission, was elected to the seat occupied by Mike Creighton. Creighton was appointed to the seat after Phil Noble's death in June. Robertson will complete the remaining two years of Noble's term.

Wallace, an executive with the Bellevue-based real-estate company Wallace Properties, was elected to the seat occupied by Patsy Bonincontri. She had been appointed to fill out the remaining two years of Connie Marshall's term. Wallace will serve a four-year term.

Feedback: Kim McCool, City Council , 425-452-7810, council@bellevuewa.gov

Council learns about possible express toll lanes on I-405
The possibility of creating express toll lanes on Interstate 405 was a lively topic for council members during their study session.

Officials with the state Department of Transportation briefed the council on their study of changing high-occupancy-vehicle lanes to express toll lanes in the future on I-405.

Express toll lanes (also known as High Occupancy Toll lanes, or HOT lanes) ask drivers to pay a fee for access to special lanes. The price of a trip changes throughout the day depending on factors such as demand, optimizing travel speed in the lane and improving the function of the overall transportation corridor.

The lanes could be existing carpool-transit lanes that are converted to HOT lanes, newly constructed lanes or a combination of the two. The general-purpose lanes would continue to be free. Two key objectives of HOT lanes are improving traffic flow and helping to fund improvements to an existing highway.

Washington state has a history of using tolls to pay for the I-90 and SR 520 floating bridges across Lake Washington, but HOT lanes are a relatively recent development. California, Texas and Minnesota have implemented such systems in recent years.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature directed WSDOT to work with local officials on the study and to prepare a tolling report for the 2010 Legislative session in January. During the past few months, Mayor Grant Degginger has attended three WSDOT meetings with representatives from other Eastside cities.

WSDOT officials told the council about the preliminary results of its study, which included five options for HOT lanes on I-405 and on SR 167, where a pilot project using HOT lanes already is under way.

The five HOT lane scenarios range in distance from less than 30 miles to more than 50 miles along I-405 and SR 167; and construction costs range from $470 million to $4.1 billion.

Some of the council members' concerns included: the types of financing being considered to build the HOT lanes, the issue of raising revenue versus improving highway performance, and whether tolling or express lanes are being considered in other parts of the region.

Other issues included: whether HOT lanes would reduce traffic on Bellevue arterials, how the lanes have performed elsewhere compared to projections, and the need to be clear with the public about the purpose of HOT lanes. 

For more information on HOT lanes, view the Council Study Session item at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/City%20Council/PacketExtendedStudySession11-30-094c1i.pdf.

Feedback: Diane Carlson, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, 425-452-4225 or dcarlson@bellevuewa.gov 


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