BOTHELL, Wash. -- A bill has been put forward to end tolling on Interstate 405 and return the road to its previous configuration.
The bill is from Rep. Mark Harmsworth, R-Mill Creek, a frequent critic of I-405 tolling. It's not the idea of tolling that fuels Harmsworth's criticism. It's how tolling has been implemented on Interstate 405, the cost, and the congestion it has created.
"If this is the experience we're having every single day, then we're doing it wrong," said Harmsworth while sitting in Wednesday afternoon traffic.
Earlier attempts to take the tolls out or alter the program have fallen well short, though the highway is now totally free on weekends.
His bill, also known as the Eastside Corridor Congestion Relief Act, would take the two express toll and carpool lanes and return one of them to general traffic.
"Drivers cannot afford it and it's not helping congestion," he said, "It's just not working for the average driver."
Washington's Department of Transportation reports increased revenue on the toll lanes. However, congestion on the highway is also significantly higher, the state has said.
"It has a way to go to be perfect," said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, House Transportation Committee Chair, "But I think we're working hard to make changes to improve."
Clibborn acknowledged the toll lanes have pushed congestion north to Bothell and Mill Creek, but adds the increased revenue will help pay for improvements on that same stretch of road.
"To Rep. Harmsworth, be careful," she said, "Because if we take out tolls, there will be no money to be spent for 405."
Harmsworth, also on the House Transportation Committee, said the genie of tolling could be "put back in the bottle."
"If we built capacity that we should have been building, then all of us would have been moving a lot faster," he said.