Updating Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls

The in basket: Tom Hughes read the news story I wrote for Wednesday’s paper about progress on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge and said, “You didn’t indicate what the toll would be or if it would ever be collected going west.”


The in basket: Tom Hughes read the news story I wrote for Wednesday’s paper about progress on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge and said, “You didn’t indicate what the toll would be or if it would ever be collected going west.”
The out basket: We reporters tend to forget after writing about something several times that there are newcomers to the area, newcomers to the newspaper and others who didn’t expect the tolls to affect them so haven’t read the previous coverage
I told Tom that the toll will be collected only bound toward Tacoma. That’s the only place there are toll booths and the sensors that will permit electronic toll collection without drivers stopping or even slowing down.
The amount of the toll isn’t certain, though project planners have said from the beginning that starting in 2007 at $3 per roundtrip and going up to $4, $5 and finally $6 at about four-year increments would pay off the bridge bonds and allow removal of the toll by 2030.
A citizens advisory committee is now reviewing proposals from various quarters for discounts to a number of user groups, most notably those who acquire transponders, cards that can be stuck to one’s windshield to be read by those electronic toll collection readers I mentioned above.
The Legislature budgeted enough money last winter to buy down transponder tolls to $1.50 per roundtrip for the first year, but it allocated only enough of the money to cover this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Since the new bridge now isn’t scheduled to open until early July, I suspect the entire sum must be reallocated this winter, meaning it will be on the table for horse-trading, as is any legislative matter.
Other people have proposed discounts for frequent users, carpoolers, the young, the old, law enforcement, and various other groups. Any reduction, of course, must be made up by someone else, or extend the pay-off of the bonds past 2030. Any infusion of revenue from some other source, like the Legislature, would have the opposite effect.
The citizens committee, to which anyone can comment at www.tacomanarrowsbridge.com, will make recommendations to the state Transportation Commission, which has the final say on tolls. It will decide, probably early next year, what the basic toll will be, and who might get a discount.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Please enter the word MILK here: