Few Narrows Bridge tolls getting exempted

Fewer than 1 percent of Tacoma Narrows Bridge trips wind up being free.
The “non-revenue” transactions, as they’re called, comprise exempt trips and those where vehicle owners can’t be billed because of unreadable license plate photos.
Exemptions include police, fire and aid vehicles responding to emergencies, Washington State Patrol vehicles clearing blocking incidents and bridge maintenance vehicles.
The state won’t disclose how many trips are made by various agencies because that’s customer information, protected by state law, it says. Bridge watchdog Randy Boss said they sent him some numbers, though. They’re old, but still interesting.
From July 2007, when the bridge opened, to December 2008, which would be 16 months, Gig Harbor Fire had 4,106 trips exempted, an average of 257 a month. Pierce County Fire District 16, from Key Peninsula, totaled 1,263, or 79 per month.
I would imagine state troopers and Pierce County deputies are making emergency trips over the bridge, too. South Kitsap Fire & Rescue said this week that it gets some trips reimbursed.
All of the crossings are charged. The agencies have to go over their billings, find which ones involved emergencies and ask for their money back.
Federal agencies aren’t exempt from tolls, but they are excused from fees or penalties assessed for not paying them.
That happened last year to the FBI. It didn’t pay its toll bill and wound up with four vehicles denied license tabs, according to documents obtained by the Kitsap Sun from the Department of Licensing.
Federal agencies have sovereign immunity from state fees and penalties, said the Attorney General’s Office. The FBI asked for the cars to be cleared. The next day, Good To Go! customer service responded that the registration holds had been lifted and the penalties waived. It paid the tolls, according to the AG’s Janelle Guthrie. She said it was a rare incident.