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Good to Go tolling: Have you checked your windshield recently?

(WSDOT)

A new crop of Good to Go pass users are signing-up in preparation for tolling on the new Seattle tunnel, and a 97.3 KIRO FM listener has a warning about passes and your car windshield.

The listener, who wanted to remain anonymous, reached-out to me earlier this month. She had just replaced her windshield, “nothing fancy just an insurance replacement,” she wrote in an email.

Then she started noticing that she was being charged the photo rate for crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, instead of the lower toll with her Good to Go pass. It turns out, her new windshield has a mylar layer in it. That blocks the pass from sending a signal to the tolling equipment.

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When she went to a customer service location, she was told that she should get a license plate reader, but that won’t allow her to switch between HOV and toll options for SR 167 or I-405. She was told she would have to petition for refunds after the fact. Not a great solution.

Metal in windshields has always been a problem for passes. There’s even a section about it on the Good To Go website, but the problem is not common. The state tolling division’s Chris Foster said you should check with your dealer or read the owner’s manual to see if your windshield has metal in it.

“A lot of the vehicles with these specialty windshields actually have a designated area where radio transponders, such as Good To Go sticker passes or a Good to Go flex pass, will work,” Foster said.

You should also check with the repair shop or service when you are getting a replacement to see if there is metal in the windshield.

The only work-around is to buy a license plate reader, which is $7 more expensive than a sticker. But if you are like my anonymous listener, who also uses 167 and 405, that’s not going to help. Foster said there is a special program for those who find themselves in this position.

“We actually have a specialty windshield replacement program, and they can enroll in that,” he said. “Through this program, you review your trips, after you’ve taken them, and there’s a form you have to fill out. Basically, you let us know which trips qualify for an HOV exemption.”

That still puts the burden on the driver to fill-out paperwork and get reimbursed or credited for those exempt trips. A hassle, for sure.

“It does require some work, but it’s a relatively low number of people that are effected by this,” Foster said.

Do your homework when first buying a pass. Make sure it’s the one that will fit most of your trips so you can pay the cheapest toll. If you’re only going to use the new tunnel, a $5 sticker will be fine, as long as there’s no metal in your windshield.

And most importantly, be sure to check your Good To Go account once a month to make sure you aren’t being tolled improperly.

 

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