Seattle drivers learned more Monday about the growing costs of owning a car in this part of the Puget Sound as a new city council transportation board voted to impose a $20 vehicle license fee and state officials briefed council members on the new tolling that will begin on the 520 bridge in spring 2011.
The Seattle City Council’s Transportation Benefit District board Monday voted to approve the new $20 fee to help pay for the city’s transportation projects. It is expected to raise nearly $7 million annually.
This new annual cost will soon be joined by per-trip costs for anybody planning to drive to or from the Eastside starting this spring. Representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation briefed Seattle’s City Council Monday morning on the plan to begin tolling 520. We’ve included video from the briefing, below. It begins around the 20-minute mark. The new tolls will be charged to drivers in an all-electronic system with no tool booths for both eastbound and westbound traffic. WSDOT will mail bills to drivers who don’t have the various payment devices in their vehicles. WSDOT says the final toll amounts have not yet been determined but that system is designed to handle variable tolling based on demand. One scenario discussed in the video features rates between $2.50 and $3.50 during the day. And, note, vehicles that end up paying by mail will get dinged an additional $1.50 per trip. We have also included some of the details of the plan published on the WSDOT Blog in this post about the new tolls:
You might have heard that all-electronic tolling on the SR 520 bridge begins in spring 2011. This means there will be no toll booths, no stopping and no hassles.
Not familiar with Good To Go!? It’s Washington state’s electronic toll collection system that lets you pay tolls without stopping. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to pay your toll. Drivers with Good To Go! passes will have the amount deducted from their prepaid account as they drive across the bridge.
To give drivers more options, we recently announced new Good To Go! toll passes. There’s a wide range of options available, from a permanent sticker to movable and specialty passes. Check out the new passes and get more information including prices.
Once you buy a pass and set up an account you’ll be able to use it on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, SR 167 HOT lanes and SR 520 bridge next spring.
We’ll photograph the license plates of those who don’t have a Good To Go! account and send a toll bill in the mail to the registered owner.
While toll rates for the SR 520 bridge have not been set, you can take a look at range of toll rates being considered (pdf 123 KB). Tolls will vary by time of day and you’ll pay the lowest toll rates if you have a Good To Go! account. The Washington State Transportation Commission will make a recommendation on toll rates later this fall, and a decision is expected in early 2011. Watch for public hearings to share your thoughts on the proposals.
To give drivers an alternative to paying the toll, King County Metro and Sound Transit have started adding nearly 130 bus trips a day across the SR 520 bridge. These service enhancements, along with park-and-ride and bus stop improvements, will give you more travel options when electronic tolling begins in spring 2011.
So, now that you know your options you have some time to think about what works best for you. Starting in January we’ll begin offering incentives to sign up. Be among the first to know about the special offers by signing up at for e-mail updates.
The tolling will begin as final planning for the construction of a new 520 bridge will be wrapping up. In the meantime, Eastside 520 changes for HOV and transit are already underway. You can learn more about the tolling here http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/520Tolling.htm