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May 22, 2013 at 11:08 AM
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 state codes.
State officials are calling this an across-the-board 2.5 percent increase, but the current peak rate of $3.59 will actually rise 3.1 percent. That’s so because the commission rounded to the nearest nickel. Tolls are collected electronically via the Good to Go system, so motorists do not fumble for pennies.
The old four-lane bridge is being tolled as a traffic-management experiment, and to give the state a head start on funding a $4.1 billion, six-lane highway replacement from I-405 to I-5.
The peak rate applies from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The midday toll will rise from $2.31 to $2.35, or 1.7 percent. Drivers without a state account are charged by mail, with a surcharge of either $1.55 or $1.60. Below you’ll find the new rates, but there are several other rates; the entire matrix can be found here.
(By the way, for five more weeks, Highway 520 is believed to be the only U.S. tollway that charges its customers a prime number.)
March 14, 2013 at 12:54 PM
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. (more…)
January 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM
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 island. That’s the fundamental problem,” said Owen Blauman, holding a sign that said “Keep I-90 a FREE WAY.” He said, “It’s a little bit like Alcatraz.”
Joy Lin said she often drives on and off the island multiple times, leaving work on the Eastside to take her parents to medical appointments in Seattle. She suggests a “green pass” in which people who prove island residency, say through a utility bill, are issued a state Good to Go transponder allowing free passage.
An intriguing new option would split the corridor across Lake Washington in half, so that the toll devices are mounted on the west and east shores of the island. That way, instead of a $4 toll each way, charged across the lake, the islanders would pay a split toll of $2 each way to either drive west into Seattle or east to Bellevue.
Three meetings this week are meant to assist the state with “scoping” for what angles will be addressed in an environmental impact statement for tolling. The second is Wednesday at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E., and the third on Thursday in Seattle at Yesler Community Center, 917 E. Yesler Way, both from 4 to 7 p.m.
Another round of process is expected in November, and then the Legislature would vote in 2014 on whether and how to toll.
Here is a link to the presentation by Washington DOT, and one to the No Toll on I-90 website. KIRO newsradio’s Dave Ross, a longtime Mercer Island resident, further explores the “Alcatraz” soundbite here.
In reality, the potential tollpayers are spread far across the metro area, as this DOT map illustrates:
December 28, 2012 at 6:52 AM
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 Green River at Tukwila early this morning, KING 5 is reporting. The car was apparently speeding when it went airborne and crashed into the water.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s drug test: When it was announced yesterday that Sherman had won his appeal of a four-game suspension for the alleged use of performance enhancing substances, some clever tweeters went to work: ”If the urine drips…you must aquit!” “If the cup is broke, the test is a joke.”
We’re paying our way… Of course it’s tolls we’re paying and we all just love doing that. Here’s the skinny: A year later, 520 bridge toll income, traffic levels ‘right on target’
Stories trending this morning on seattletimes.com:
- Seahawks get five Pro Bowlers, but Richard Sherman not one of them
- Amazon puts its stamp on downtown Seattle
- Man killed in Bellevue bar shooting is identified
- One man’s plan to pay off national debt: We each pay a buck
- Seahawks not giving up on chance for an NFC West title
Nick Provenza: 206-464-2142 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @NickProvenza1
December 17, 2012 at 2:42 PM
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 national transit use grew 2.6 percent. The Rose City has struggled with labor strife and service cuts, as detailed here by Oregonian columnist Joseph Rose. One result was MAX light-rail use dropped in Portland (which ended its downtown free-rail zone) while bus use grew. Meanwhile in Seattle, King County Metro gained 1.7 percent and carried 400,440 average weekday passengers in October compared to a year earlier, despite eliminating the downtown free-bus zone Sept. 29. Sound Transit gained 19 percent year-over-year, serving 100,935 weekday riders for bus and rail combined.
* And in an echo of Seattle’s Highway 520 frustrations, drivers in the east suburbs of Vancouver are grumbling over tolls on a new, cable-supported Port Mann Bridge. About 6,000 cars a day are diverting to another bridge, the Vancouver Sun reports. This despite the piddly introductory toll of $1.50 — compared to $3.59 at peak times for Highway 520 to fund a bridge that’s not even built yet.
May 21, 2012 at 9:43 PM
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.
March 22, 2012 at 2:31 PM
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 final planned increase of 15 percent will take effect in 2016.
The tolls are helping pay for a new Highway 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington. It’s scheduled for completion in 2014, replacing the 49-year-old bridge used by commuters between Seattle and Bellevue.
Transportation department spokeswoman Patricia Michaud says the peak toll for drivers who pay by mail, instead of the Good to Go pass, will rise from $5 now to $6.05 in 2016.
January 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM
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 the state Transportation Department. Travel speed were good, though, due to fewer vehicles overall and drivers commuting earlier or later in the day to hit the bridge when tolls are a bit easier on the pocket book. Tolls are higher during the peak commute times. The map and cams.
A bit of color in winter.
Now really… trying to steal a man’s dog? Did you ever wonder how safe it is to leave your dog tied up outside when you go into a store or eatery. Someone left their dog tethered outside a Capitol Hill restaurant last week when, according to police, a guy tried to steal the pooch, according to the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. Cops caught the would-be thief, thank goodness.
Most-read stories on seattletimes.com:
January 3, 2012 at 8:04 AM
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 automatically pay tolling fees, she said.
The decline is roughly in line with estimates on the impact tolling would have on the bridge, which costs drivers up to $3.50 — plus a $1.50 surcharge for those without the stickers — during rush hour. When the tolling began Dec. 29, traffic was down even more at nearly 50 percent, but that was during the holiday week between Christmas and New Years.
Today is the first post-holiday commute since the tolling began.
Officials were closely watching other major roads, including Interstate 90, to see how they would be impacted by drivers changing their routines to avoid the tolls.
But early this morning, there were no reports of significant delays.
“It’s looking pretty typical so far but it’s still early,” said Michaud, although she added she had no hard numbers. “We’re still watching.”
December 30, 2011 at 4:01 PM
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 a normal, non-holiday level — clear evidence that maybe 40,000 or so drivers diverted from paying on 520, said Craig Stone, toll director for the state DOT.
On Friday morning, traffic on 520 fell another tenth, so the trend could mean 4,000 fewer cars for the day compared to Thursday.
Stone urged travelers to prepare for a more volatile commute this coming Tuesday, for instance, by registering their vanpools to use 520 toll-free. Toll rates range from free overnight to $3.50 each way at peak times.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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