Get ready Puget Sound drivers, your trip to SeaTac could get a lot longer—and a lot less reliable.

It doesn’t matter whether you take a shuttle, a taxi, a bus (even the vaunted 194), or ride with a friend: starting in 2009 you’re going to need to leave earlier. That’s because Initiative 985 will eliminate carpool lanes except for some very short periods during rush hour. All those airport conveyances are going to see their reliability go right out the window.

Excited? I know I am.

It gets better. Traffic engineers say there’s a very good chance that even solo drivers—the well-heeled who can afford airport parking — will also end up with a longer trip. That’s in part because under 985 drivers will be sharing the lanes with buses and shuttles and cabs. And because those high-occupancy modes won’t make as much sense—they can’t offer a real advantage without carpool lanes—a lot of those travelers will just opt to drive alone. Which will mean more cars on the road. And more congestion. It’s also in part because some HOV facilities will have to be configured, or even closed, to accomodate 985’s requirements.


It’s maybe worth mentioning that only 4 counties in Washington have carpool lanes. But what’s really super about a statewide initiative is that all 39 counties will vote—even though 35 of those counties have no stake whatsoever in the outcome. That’s right: voters in Goldendale, Moses Lake, and Clarkston will tell drivers in King County whether or not they can have carpool lanes. I’m sure this will work out wonderfully.

Visit the No on I-985 campaign website.