Sounders fans will be first to test tolling in 99 tunnel
Tolls on the 99 tunnel begin Saturday, Nov. 9, but it won’t be a soft launch. The Sounders are bringing 70,000 fans to CenturyLink Field on Sunday for the MLS Cup final.
Drivers were going to get a three-day weekend of relatively light traffic to test the tunnel and its tolls, and to see how many drivers are diverting to surface streets. But thousands of Sounders fans will descend on the stadium district on Sunday.
State tolling division director Ed Barry said he’s hoping fans will use every option to get to the game.
“There’s a lot of different ways to get to these games,” he said.
He hopes light rail and transit will continue to be a popular options for fans, but he doesn’t know how many people who would use the tunnel to get to a game will divert to avoid paying the toll, which is $1 on weekends. It could run fans $3, if they don’t have a Good-To-Go Pass. Barry said there is still time to get a sticker pass to ensure you pay the lowest toll.
“We’ve got 1,500 passes left (of 60,000 free passes) so we really want people to get out there get a Good-To-Go Pass,” he said.
He also reminds people who have received passes to activate them.This is a test, but not a full test for the Sounders match. Barry said weekend traffic, even with games, is usually light.
“We think it’s going to be okay,” Barry said.
No matter what happens, the state and city said they are ready.
“We’re going to be monitoring traffic from day one on Saturday,” Barry said.
All the diversion plans are ready to go, should a large amount of drivers bail on the tunnel. The city is ready to tweak signal timing and call out extra police officers to manage key intersections to keep traffic moving.
This early test, with 70,000 people heading through the area, will also give planners a good idea of where drivers might go to avoid the tunnel tolling.