Poll Says Half Would Avoid 520 Bridge Tolls

A poll taken by PEMCO Insurance found that half of the drivers will find another way around Lake Washington instead of paying a toll for a new Everygreen Point Bridge. That could spell big trouble for traffic congestion elsewhere.

The 520 Tolling Implementation Committee, commissioned by Gov. Chris Gregoire last year to evaluate tolling options for financing the bridge-replacement project, will present its findings to the Washington state legislature on Jan. 28.

According to PEMCO’s survey of drivers in the Puget Sound region, 51 percent of the respondents said they would avoid the 520 bridge if tolls were put in place. Only 11 percent report they would seek carpool options and even fewer respondents (6 percent) say they would take the bus.

PEMCO’s results show that despite drivers’ intentions to use the 520 bridge less often, they are not expressing a willingness to adopt behaviors that will reduce traffic congestion elsewhere.  Nearly one-half (47 percent) of respondents say they would use I-90 more often, and one in four (24 percent) would drive north around the lake to avoid 520.

When asked what they would do if both the 520 and I-90 bridges are tolled, drivers’ propensity to change behaviors is even lower: only one in 10 would carpool more often, just 4 percent would ride the bus, and 41 percent indicate they would not make any changes to their driving habits.

PEMCO’s poll also gauged residents’ willingness to make other changes like move residences, telecommute, or change jobs as a result of bridge tolling. Less than three percent indicate they would pursue any of those options.