Drivers say they worry the Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls will increase, making the drive too expensive. But those drivers have people going to bat for them in Olympia.
Though there was no toll increase on the bridge in 2017, there are concerns that there will be one this year. This is because there aren’t enough people crossing the bridge to pay back the construction bonds.
“We can’t afford that,” Senator Angel told the committee.
Angel is pushing a bill that would freeze the toll rate at $5.25 by taking a loan from the transportation fund to make sure the debt is paid-off on time.
“We know that there’s not going to be more money out there to try to cover these things, and I think this is totally reasonable,” she said.
The downside to this lower and stable toll rate is that bridge users would have to pay tolls for much longer, something that most commuters don’t appreciate.
Meanwhile, there’s a plan brewing in Olympia that would fundamentally change how transportation projects are funded.
Right now, the gas tax is where the state gets the money for roads and bridges. That gas tax isn’t pulling in as much money as it once did thanks to fuel-efficient vehicles. That’s why the state is looking at charging you per mile.
Senator Phil Fortunato has a different idea. He wants to use the 6.5 percent sales tax currently charged on every retail car sale and dedicate that to transportation. That money currently disappears into the general fund today. Because he has an “R” next to his name, it’s not likely that this bill will go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.