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January 3, 2012 at 6:54 AM

No tolling delays so far on first post-holiday 520 bridge commute

Transportation officials closely watching traffic patterns on the first post-holiday work day since tolls started on the 520 bridge did not notice anything unexpected as the early morning commute got under way.

Traffic was light, as expected this early, but there were not yet any delays on alternate roads like Interstate 90 as of about 6:20 a.m., said Patty Michaud, a spokeswoman for the state department of transportation.

But Michaud cautioned it was still too early to know the impact of the tolling, which costs drivers up to $3.50 — plus a $1.50 surcharge for those without state-issued Good to Go stickers –during rush hour. Officials were expecting thousands of drivers to avoid the tolls by seeking alternate routes to work, potentially causing traffic problems on those roads.

“Commuters on all routes around Lake Washington should expect the unexpected tomorrow,” Toll Division Director Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a statement released Monday evening. “While our ultimate goal is to improve traffic overall, it will take time, likely months, for drivers to make adjustments and for traffic patterns to settle into a new normal.”

What the “new normal” will be is still unknown, Michaud said.

For the time being, rush hour traffic is expected to start earlier and end later on all major area roads, with the exception 520.

Of course, a larger problem could be triggered by a car crash on Interstate 90 or another major road. The DOT said it has extra crews on hand to respond to accidents.

Michaud said more would be known about the impact on traffic at 7:30.

Comments | More in Traffic & Transit | Topics: 520 bridge, commute, Lake Washington

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