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Drivers hope the state’s new I-405 congestion-relief plan works

BOTHELL, Wash. — Traffic congestion relief is on the way for I-405, that’s the message for drivers from the Washington State Department of Transportation.

For months, drivers told Q13 News the stretch of freeway is notoriously backed up.

The ‘peak-use shoulder lane’ won’t be open for about two weeks, but WSDOT plans to allow commuters to drive along the shoulder for nearly two miles in the northbound lanes.

But some drivers worry it won’t be enough to make a dent in the bottleneck.

“It is a mess,” said Elisa Rayburn.

“It’s definitely slower,” driver Danny Hodson added.

After WSDOT installed tolled HOV lanes, I-405 near Bothell has seen big backups.

“We just avoid it all together,” said Rayburn.

“Literally like half the time just sitting there,” said Hodson.

The state's plan is to open 1.8 miles of shoulder between SR 527 and Interstate 5 northbound could help ease congestion by increasing the general purpose lanes by 50%. Transportation officials said a series of overhead signs will tell drivers when the shoulder is opened or closed.

The project cost more than $11 million, some of which came from the gas tax but the vast majority came from drivers paying into the I-405 toll system.

The Snohomish County project won’t be the only one in Washington for long.

“There are plans to implement on I-90 and I-5, that’s coming,” said WSDOT engineer Chun-Ho Chen.

Drivers are crossing their fingers hoping the project will make a dent in their commute.

“We changed our whole routine in life because we live in the north east end,” said Rayburn.

WSDOT says it will be monitoring the stretch of road day and night and have also added four new emergency pull outs along the route in case of an accident.

According to WSDOT the shoulder lane will open April 24.