CHOKEPOINTS

Washington tolling revenue still reeling from pandemic

Dec 14, 2021, 5:03 AM
tolling, I-405...
I-405 express toll lanes in operation at Kirkland. (File photo, courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)
(File photo, courtesy of WSDOT/Flickr)

It’s a question we’ve been trying to answer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: How much money has the state lost in tolling revenue?

WSDOT stepping up its game with revamped website

Two years ago, the state put together its tolling revenue forecast for 2020. Then the pandemic hit. The state kept revising the forecast lower as we got deeper and deeper in the pandemic, and fewer and fewer people were driving.

Since that initial forecast, the state’s toll facilities took in 40% fewer dollars than anticipated. That’s a loss of over $127 million.

By far the worst performer has been the I-405 Express Toll Lanes, which we have chronicled over the last two years. The ETL’s brought in 77% less money than forecasted. That’s a more than $32 million hit.

The SR 167 High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are next, down more than 57%, or over $4 million.

The 520 Bridge is down 52%, a more than $62 million loss over expectations. The SR 99 Tunnel is down 42%, which is more than $13 million.

The best performer has been the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s only down 13%, but still that’s a nearly $15 million hit.

Things are starting to recover, but it will take a long time to get back to 2019 forecasts — if we ever do.

The positive side of this is for the drivers. The average toll on I-405 is now $2.07, and that’s down from the average pre-COVID toll of $4.79.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

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Washington tolling revenue still reeling from pandemic