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I-405 shoulder driving provides big relief

Wednesday, May 3, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

cars use I405 shoulder during rush hour​It's a tough month for Eastside commuters coping with the closure of the Overlake and South Bellevue transit centers to enable light rail construction.

But farther north, commuters are delighted to find their drive times cut in half by a new, novel fix for the cursed Bothell bottleneck: shoulder driving.

Effective April 24, drivers now use I-405's northbound right shoulder as a general purpose lane during the afternoon commute, generally between 3-7 p.m. on weekdays. A green arrow glows above the lane once it's open, starting north of the SR 527 on-ramp in Canyon Park and extending to I-5 in Lynnwood.

A Washington State Department of Transportation project manager told that the average travel time between Bellevue and Lynnwood during the afternoon peak had been about 40 minutes so far in 2017. It dropped by 20 minutes, on average, last week.

WSDOT would like to apply similar relief to other local bottlenecks, but the Canyon Park stretch of I-405 is a "very unique location and situation" where traffic engineers could make it work.

I405 being widened near SR522 interchange BothellUltimately, the real solution to easing congestion along the corridor would be to widen I-405 between Bothell and Lynnwood.

As for the more southerly Eastside commuters, you can expect more traffic through Bellevue until 2023 when Sound Transit's Eastlink Link Extension is expected to be finished.

Photos courtesy WSDOT

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