CHOKEPOINTS

Driving over Lake Washington is about to get more expensive

May 17, 2016, 9:55 AM | Updated: 5:07 pm

520 bridge...

Toll rates will increase on July 1 across the 520 bridge. (WSDOT image)

(WSDOT image)

Update:

Driving across Lake Washington is about to get even more expensive. The Washington State Transportation Commission voted to approve a 5 percent toll increase for the SR 520 bridge.

The peak rate of $3.90 will go to $4.10 on July 1 to help pay for the new 520 floating bridge and other improvements. The rate will increase another 20 cents on July 1, 2017 – for a total of $4.30.

Also in July 2017, nighttime tolling takes effect from 11 p.m. – 5 a.m., costing drivers a flat rate of $1.25.

Drivers who use the Tacoma Narrows Bridge will save some cash this summer. The WSTC voted to repeal the 50 cent toll increase for that bridge. A $2.5 million appropriation from the state Legislature, along with increased bridge traffic, allowed officials to stop the rate hike while continuing to pay off the bridge debt.

Original story

There are so many drivers using the Puget Sound region’s tolled bridges that not all of the anticipated rate increases are necessary.

But that doesn’t mean tolls aren’t going up for some drivers, KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan explains.

Related: Seattle’s old Yesler Bridge to shut down for an entire year

The 520 Bridge tolls are likely increasing, Sullivan says, because the Washington State Transportation Commission is expected to approve a rate hike over the next two years.

That means there will be a 20-cent jump during peak tolling hours over next two years. The commission proposed a higher increase, but that isn’t necessary, Sullivan says. That is because traffic is “up a bit” on those roads, commission Executive Director Reema Griffith explains.

Though the tolls on 520 are likely to increase, Sullivan says drivers shouldn’t expect anything too shocking.

“When you start setting those tolls too high, they look very carefully at what point do people become price sensitive and start shifting to other corridors,” Griffith said.

The commission is expected to repeal a 50-cent toll increase on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that it approved last year. That increase was set to increase July 1. But thanks to heavy use and money from the Washington legislature, the commission can backtrack.

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Driving over Lake Washington is about to get more expensive