CHOKEPOINTS

SR 520 Bridge tolls are going up once again

Jun 27, 2023, 6:33 AM | Updated: Jun 30, 2023, 7:32 am

520 bridge tolls...

Tolls going up on the 520 bridge. (Photo from WSDOT)

(Photo from WSDOT)

We all know it’s going to be expensive to gas up for the Fourth of July holiday, but that’s not the only added cost you’ll see next week as tolls on the SR 520 Bridge are going up once again.

Starting Saturday, July 1, the Washington State Transportation Commission will increase the toll rate on the 520 Bridge to help pay back its financial commitments.

“It became apparent that in looking at our financials for both the near term and the long term that there were some potential shortfalls,” Spokesperson Carl See told KIRO Newsradio. “This was really brought on by the effect of the pandemic and the drop in traffic both for the near term.”

WA most expensive state to buy gas for first time in history

See stated traffic really slowed down as a consequence of the pandemic.

“We did the analysis and the forecasts were becoming clear that we were not going to be meeting what we expected,” See continued.

Why did the state Transportation Commission wait two years to increase the toll?

See said the agency adopted the hike in 2021 to make up for losses during the pandemic, so why did it take two years to implement?

“Working with our partners of the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Office of the State Treasurer, we identified a need,” See explained. “In the near term, the Washington Legislature stepped forward with nearly $60 million in federal funding in support of meeting those financial losses during the pandemic.”

They also decided they would need a rate increase in the future.

“And that’s where we identified July 1 of 2023,” See said.

Now it’s time for drivers to pay up as rates will jump between 20 cents and $1.10 more for cars with two axles, depending on the time of day. If your car has additional axles, expect a similar increase.

And it’s not just the tolls that are going up. The hours for the max tolls are being increased as well.

“We stretched the peak hours by an extra hour in the morning and in the afternoon for the commute,” See explained. “We see people kind of altering their travel patterns during the commutes to be a little more stretched out. And the midday traffic was a little higher than we had seen pre-COVID as well.”

The $4.50 max toll for Good to Go! drivers will now be in effect from 7-to-10 a.m. and 3-to-7 p.m. in the evening on weekdays. A pay-by-mail toll will run you another two dollars, pushing that toll to $6.50.

More from Micki Gamez: Gas prices are at an all-time high, here’s how you can save

So what’s next for toll prices on 520?

Are tolls going to keep increasing over time?

“We don’t have any plans to increase tolls on the 520 Bridge,” explained See. “It’s always a situation where we have to continue to monitor performance, both financial and to monitor traffic, traffic performance on the bridge, as well, to see if there’s a need to adjust.”

See reminds you that the best way to always pay the cheapest toll is to sign up for Good to Go!

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here

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