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State to hear presentation on I-5 autonomous lanes

I-5 could have autonomous lanes by 2040, according to a pitch from the Cascadia Center Discovery Institute.

The Washington State Transportation Commission will hear a new pitch for reducing congestion – building out autonomous vehicle lanes on Interstate 5.

Bruce Agnew, director of the Cascadia Center Discovery Institute, will make the pitch in Olympia, following a study by his Seattle-based think tank. He believes the state could transition existing HOV lanes to handle autonomous vehicles within the next eight to 10 years and says it would be more cost effective than other ideas of the past.

“Basically striping and the condition of the pavement, we need to make sure the pavement is ready for machine readable sensors, $10 million range for Interstate 5,” he said.

Agnew believes it would reduce congestion and be safer than other past ideas.

The effort is being made in conjunction with Seattle-based Madrona Ventures, a Venture Capital firm that has backed many tech startups. Kirkland-based InRix, which collects, studies, and distributes transportation data, is also part of the effort.

Agnew believes lanes could be adapted by 2040.

“People think that's awfully ambitious, but 11 years ago we didn't have smart phones,” he said.