OLYMPIA – New toll rates for the Tacoma Narrows and State Route 520 bridges take effect at midnight July 1. The change reflects the next necessary rate increase approved by the Washington State Transportation Commission to ensure both bridges generate enough revenue to meet construction-related bond payments.
“Debt payments are the single most important consideration when setting the new rates,” said Toll Division Director Craig Stone of the state Department of Transportation.
The state Transportation Commission annually reviews traffic and revenue to determine whether new toll rates are needed to cover operational costs and debt payments. The review process starts in the fall and if new rates are adopted, they are in effect the following July.
“For the next few years, we expect the commission to consider new toll rates annually, but the final decision will depend on the data,” said Stone.
New bridge toll rates July 1
Tacoma Narrows: The Good To Go! rate will increase from $2.75 to $4, cash tolls from $4 to $5 and Pay By Mail to $6, up from $5.50.
SR 520 bridge: Toll rates on the SR 520 bridge will increase 2.5 percent and continue to vary by time of day. The current peak Good To Go! rate of $3.50 will increase to $3.59, and the peak Pay By Mail rate of $5 will rise to $5.13. The toll increase affects all rate levels. Toll-rate schedules posted online.
This is the first of four annual 2.5-percent rate increases for SR 520 planned through 2015. In July 2016, there is planned 15 percent increase that is based on forecasted traffic levels. The commission may adjust any of these anticipated rate increases after their annual review of traffic and revenue.
Drivers using a Good To Go! pass and keeping a current account will continue to pay the lowest toll rate on both bridges.
Tolling as a funding source
Toll-backed bonds financed construction of the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and bonds are being sold to raise $1 billion toward the SR 520 floating bridge and highway improvements.
Tolling is a key funding tool for state transportation projects and can also help WSDOT operate roadways more efficiently by managing congestion. WSDOT tracks revenue from each toll facility in separate accounts within the state treasury and dedicates the revenue to finance construction, operation and maintenance of the facility on which it was collected. Toll rates, fees and exemptions are set by the Washington State Transportation Commission.