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SR 99 tunnel tolls
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Business group asks WSDOT to delay tolling in SR 99 tunnel

Tolls begin in the SR 99 tunnel on Nov. 9, 2019. (Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio)

After the Washington State Department of Transportation announced Nov. 9 as the start date for tolls in Seattle’s SR 99 tunnel, a local business group is now asking that WSDOT hold off.

SR 99 tunnel tolls could send thousands of cars onto Seattle streets

Representing a handful of banks, shipyards, and more, the North Seattle Industrial Association issued its request to delay tolling in the tunnel Tuesday, citing the need to wait on unfinished construction projects.

“While many of us expected increased traffic in the Duwamish and the Central Waterfront from the opening of the SR99 tunnel, the amount of traffic that has resulted is beyond our wildest expectations and anything … predicted to us,” said NSIA President Eugene Wasserman.

The NSIA hopes to see that traffic decrease once roadway projects along the central waterfront and in Belltown are completed. Until then, though, the group worries that tolls will only further exacerbate traffic already slowed by active construction.

“The imposition of the toll will only cause drivers to divert onto downtown streets and the central waterfront causing more traffic, congestion, and air pollution,” Wasserman said.

WSDOT’s worst-case scenario for tolling would see roughly 40,000 more cars pushed out of the tunnel and onto surface streets. KIRO Radio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan expects South Lake Union and Pioneer Square to take the brunt of the added traffic, as the last places drivers can bail on the tunnel before paying a toll.

WSDOT announces date for SR 99 tunnel tolling

The NSIA claims that the tunnel has already disrupted “bus commuting, regular deliveries and people getting to work, many of who[sic] are low income.”

There is no indication as of now that WSDOT plans to delay its start date for tolling in the tunnel.

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