Officials consider maximum $2.50 toll for new Seattle tunnel

Dec 12, 2017, 2:33 PM | Updated: Dec 13, 2017, 10:21 am
seattle tunnel toll, SR 99...
A graphic depicting the north end of the tunnel once completed. (WSDOT)

There are several options for a Seattle tunnel toll, but the one with the most momentum is a maximum fee of $2.50.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is also discussing a toll that would vary from $1 on nights and weekends. It would increase to the maximum during other drive times through the tunnel that will replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct.

RELATED: Seattle viaduct’s days are numbered

It could be another 10 months before the commission officially sets a rate for the tunnel. With that deadline, the toll will be set shortly before the tunnel is expected to be completed in October 2018.  Drivers won’t be able to use the tunnel until March of 2019, under the current timeline.

Seattle tunnel toll

Revenue from the Seattle tunnel toll is an important piece of its funding. At least $200 million of the project’s budget must come from tolling. There are concerns over threats to that funding — drivers will avoid the tunnel and its toll and drive through downtown Seattle instead.

A study has estimated that between 20,000 and 25,000 additional vehicles will be pushed onto I-5 and surface streets once the tunnel is open. Exactly how many drivers will opt out of the tunnel depends on how much the commission ultimately decides to charge.

The tunnel won’t be an option for many drivers. As MyNorthwest’s Kipp Robertson previously pointed out, the tunnel is a straight passage between the northern and southern stretches of downtown Seattle. The tunnel will not offer ramps to/from Seneca Street, Columbia Street, Western Avenue, or Elliott Avenue; options that the viaduct currently provides.

Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien anticipates this to be an issue. He asked for $200,000 in the recently-approved budget to study yet another toll. In this case, it would be a toll for people driving on downtown surface streets, avoiding the tunnel.

“Folks that are on 99 that are going to try divert to get out of the tunnel — because that they don’t want to pay that toll — do we have some sort of toll that says, ‘You are going to pay a toll one way or the other’? So if you are going to use the tunnel, just use it,” O’Brien said in October.

The surface street fee is similar to congestion tolling used in London.

To ease some of the new surface street traffic, there are plans to increase capacity on Alaskan Way — the route that the viaduct originally bypassed.

“The new tunnel will be just one of several transportation investments to the Seattle waterfront over the next several years, including the new Alaskan Way surface street with improved capacity and connections to downtown Seattle,” Washington State Department of Transportation spokesperson Ethan Bergerson said in October.



West Seattle Bridge...
Chris Sullivan

20 months into the closure, workers return to West Seattle Bridge

Workers finally returned to the closed West Seattle Bridge on Monday, promising to have it open to the public by the middle of 2022.
2 days ago
Tow truck drivers...
Chris Sullivan

Washington tow truck drivers beg state lawmakers for more protection on roads

Tow truck drivers are begging the state Legislature for more protection after a deadly year on Washington's roads.
8 days ago
Chris Sullivan

Washington State Ferries to slowly start returning normal service this week

Ferry riders have been struggling with a reduced sailing schedule for about a month now, but there could be some service improvements coming.
15 days ago
light rail...
Chris Sullivan

Light rail trains finally testing on East Link tracks

Light rail cars are running on the East Link tracks in the first phase of systems integration testing before service begins in 2023.
20 days ago
WSDOT, roads...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT workforce shortage could mean more closed roads this winter

The vaccine mandate and a global lack of workers is expected to impact the state's ability to clear the snow from roads and keep the mountain passes open.
22 days ago
I-5 JBLM traffic...
Chris Sullivan

Improvements to I-5 through JBLM have been ‘game-changer’ for congestion

A new HOV lane on I-5 through JBLM has led to across-the-board decreases in congestion along what's historically been a problematic roadway.
27 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Officials consider maximum $2.50 toll for new Seattle tunnel