The cost of crossing the old Highway 520 floating bridge will increase by 11 cents each way on July 1, to $3.70 at peak times. The Washington State Transportation Commission says it approved the change Wednesday morning, while meeting in Port Townsend. This sort of annual boost has been in the fiscal plan for years, and is prescribed by…More
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Distance-based tolls, peak-only tolling, and a wide range of rates from 50 cents to $3 are now on the table, as the Highway 99 tunnel’s toll advisory committee looks at a broader spectrum of ideas for raising revenue.
At a Wednesday meeting, committee members seemed far from solving the fundamental problem, after 11 meetings in 16 months. Any toll high enough to reap $200 million for construction costs will cause drivers to opt for downtown streets, which are already near full. Models show there wouldn’t even be a boost in peak traffic on I-5 because the freeway is saturated.
Not only are tolls expected to finance $200 million of the $3.1 billion Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement over 30 years – but over the years, state officials quietly assumed the tolls could cover operations, maintenance, insurance and long-term equipment replacement, comprising another $400 million. Toll-backed financing is much weaker than what pro-tunnel officials assured the public back in 2009, when lawmakers voted to build a tunnel.
The latest scenarios include two that raise money:
- Varying the rates based on whether drivers enter and exit via local streets, or continue on the highway toward Green Lake, Shoreline, West Seattle, or Burien. This would be done using electronic readers at the South Lake Union and Sodo interchanges. In late afternoon, a “short” rate might be $1.20, a “medium” rate $2.10, or a “long” rate of $3.
- A simpler, high-revenue matrix of $2.25 morning peak, $1.50 mid-day, and $2.75 afternoon peak.
And two that minimize diversion to downtown streets:
- A peak-only toll of $1.75, charged from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Cheap rates of 50 cent off-peak, of 75 cents peak, and free at night.
Tolling on Interstate 90 is perhaps three years away, but about 800 residents of Mercer Island were already alarmed enough to attend a forum Tuesday night about the state’s proposal to charge I-90 motorists for the sake of finishing the new Highway 520 bridge. “We don’t have any choice but to pay a toll to get off our…More
Paintball shooting spree: A trio of teens in Spokane cruised through some neighborhoods yesterday shooting paintballs at people walking down the street. Five people got hit, but cops soon got the shooters before any more splattering was done. One person was treated for injuries. Two people died when a car went into the…More
A favorite pastime among the mobile “creative class” in Seattle is complaining that our transportation systems are inferior to those in Vancouver, B.C., and Portland. But recent news from the neighbors reveals them as anything but nirvana. * Transit use in metro Portland dropped 1.1 percent in September to November 2012 compared to a year earlier, even as…More
Tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge are going up starting in July, according to The News Tribune. Today, the state Transportation Commission OK’d the following increases: Good to Go tolls rise from $2.75 to $4 Cash tolls rise from $4 to $5 Pay-by-mail tolls rise from $5.50 to $6.More
From The Associated Press: The peak toll on the Highway 520 floating bridge that began at $3.50 at the end of last year will rise to $4.35 in 2016 after a series of scheduled increases. The state Department of Transportation says the first of four annual increases of 2.5 percent will take effect in July, and the…More
Weather: If you’re planning some outdoor time this weekend, Sunday might be the best bet. Expect some light rain and temps in the mid-40s today, but it should warm up and dry out a bit by Sunday. Traffic: Volumes picked up on the 520 bridge by Thursday this week, despite the new variable tolls, says…More
About 37 percent fewer drivers than normal crossed the 520 bridge between 6 and 7 a.m. this morning, transportation officials said. Some 2,600 vehicles crossed during that time, compared with the typical 4,200, said Patty Michaud, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. About 85 percent of them had state-issued Good to Go stickers that…More
Only 44,300 vehicles crossed the Highway 520 floating bridge Thursday, the first day of new tolls on the aging span. That’s about 60 percent less than the 115,000 who make the trip on a typical weekday, according to the latest numbers released by the state today. But on toll-free Interstate-90 and Highway 522, traffic was close to…More