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Transportation commission moves forward with 520 Bridge toll rate hike proposal

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(The Center Square) – The Washington State Transportation Commission is moving forward with a proposal to increase toll rates on the 520 Bridge to cover a revenue shortfall and meet bond obligations.

The commission unanimously approved a scenario in which toll rates increase by an average of 10%, though that increase is tailored to certain times of the day. If enacted, the tolls would increase for drivers with Good to Go passes from $4.50 to $4.90 during the hours of 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays. Between those hours, the toll rates would be $3.95.

The other option under consideration would have also increased toll rates an average of 10%, but the rate increase would be applied evenly to all hours. This would reduce the number of tolling hour rates to six from the existing eight.

The rate proposals came after financial analysis found in December that the Washington State Department of Transportation would be unable to meet its financial obligation with existing toll revenue, starting in 2025 fiscal year with a $3 million shortfall that would remain in each fiscal year until the fiscal year 2041.

The commission conducted an online public input survey from April 17 through May 1, resulting in 20,000 engagements. Those who participated in the survey also favored the scenario adopted by the commission for further consideration – albeit participations strongly opposed both proposals. According to the results, 53.5% of respondents either opposed or strongly opposed the uniform rate increase option, while 54.8% felt the same way about the option chosen by the commission.

However, that option received more favorable support among respondents, with 33% supporting or strongly supporting, compared to the 31.9% who felt the same about the uniform rate increase proposal.

As part of the survey, 7,465 comments were submitted. According to a summary conducted by the commission of 1,035 comments, the “vast majority stated dislike for tolls or toll increases altogether,” and expressed a “lack of trust due to a perceived lack of transparency, accountability, and efficiency.”

The commission will hold a public hearing for the proposed toll rate plan on July 10. If approved, the new rates take effect on Aug. 15.