WSDOT praises I-405 express toll lanes, but state lawmaker says they need to be suspended

SEATTLE -- One month into the project, state transportation officials say the new I-405 express toll lanes are saving valuable time for commuters. But one state lawmaker says the experiment is turning commuters into "guinea pigs."

On Tuesday, Washington State Department of Transportation officials provided new data that shows express toll lanes are providing a more reliable trip for commuters. On average, commute times have dropped for express toll lane users by 15 minutes in the mornings and evenings.

"Express toll lanes are doing what they were intended to do," said Craig Stone, assistant transportation secretary of the toll division. "They have immediately brought back reliability to transit, to van pools and carpools."

But one lawmaker in Snohomish County says he has heard from an overwhelming number of people who strongly dislike the changes.

Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, said, "At this point, what I’d rather see is basically a suspension of the HOT lanes until we figure out how to make this system work. I don’t want to use the citizens of this state as guinea pigs for some transportation concept."

Harmsworth said he will continue to talk to WSDOT officials in hopes of making changes. He added, however, that he will head to Olympia with changes of his own if he doesn't get results.

The WSDOT has a blog online addressing several concerns from commuters about drive times. For more information, click here.