CHOKEPOINTS

Chokepoints: Telling the US 2 trestle tolling truth

Feb 8, 2018, 6:24 AM | Updated: 10:37 am
trestle, Lake Stevens...
Highway 2 trestle. (WSDOT image)
(WSDOT image)

Plans to potentially toll Highway 2 made splashy headlines around the beginning of the year when a new study on paying for a new trestle was released. The decision is several years down the road, but it’s time to give you a little “Trestle 101” to set the table for the discussion to come.

Send Chris a question or complaint about traffic

It should come to no one’s surprise that traffic on the trestle that connects I-5 to Lake Stevens and Snohomish is awful. It has been for years, and it’s only getting worse with more and more people moving into the area. More than 18,000 vehicles a day use the trestle.

The state wants to build a new trestle just north of the existing one to handle all westbound traffic. The current trestle would handle all the eastbound traffic. It’s going to cost about a billion dollars to build. Construction isn’t set to begin until 2023, and we are only in the beginning stage of talking about how to fund it.

The study looked at all options, including raising the gas tax by 3 cents statewide to pay for it, and tolling, among other options.

Democratic Senator Steve Hobbs, the head of the Senate Transportation Committee, is from Lake Stevens. He really doesn’t want a toll, but he said the project has to be paid for somehow.

“First choice, no tolls,” he said, “but maybe it’s something where it’s a little bit of a toll. It’s a transportation benefit district. It’s a little bit of a gas tax, a little bit of federal funding, a little bit of Port of Everett.”

What caught everyone’s attention in this preliminary study was the toll rates that might be necessary to pay for the trestle. The tolls would be variable, just like the 520 Bridge, and they could be anywhere from a $1.25 to $5.25 each way.

Representative Mark Harmsworth, a Republican who also represents that district, told me he can’t sell a toll to Lake Stevens residents and he is raising alarm bells about the potential rates.

Senator Hobbs says some of the predictions about the tolls are just plain wrong.

“I just give warning to those out there that maybe hear of people saying ‘oh it’s a $6 toll,’ that’s just not the case, ” he said. “That is not going to happen. That is just fear-mongering and taking data and twisting it in an evil political purpose.”

As you might imagine, that did not sit well with Rep. Harmsworth, who responded, “If exposing the tolling plans is fear mongering, then Sen. Hobbs is correct and people should be scared. Sen. Hobbs has read the same funding report I have where it is clearly the recommendation of WSDOT to promote tolling on the US 2 trestle. As the Senate Transportation chair, Sen. Hobbs has the ability to put this matter to rest now by publicly stating his opposition to the tolling planning WSDOT is doing for the US 2 trestle.”

This exchange should give you a good foundation of what the next few years of discussion could become. Senator Hobbs says tolls won’t be dropped on the public without speaking to everyone involved.

Should tolling be used, it’s expected to start when construction does and not after the new trestle opens. Traffic modeling suggests anywhere between 25 to 33 percent of current drivers would divert to avoid paying the tolls.

Chokepoints

speed cameras...
Chris Sullivan

Speed cameras on freeways? Seems like a quick way to make roads safer

We have them in school zones, and we have them at intersections, is it time to put speed cameras on the freeways to keep speeds down?
4 days ago
wsdot...
Chris Sullivan

WSDOT is hiring, but can it keep people from bolting for better pay?

The Washington Department of Transportation is back to pre-COVID-19 staffing levels, but can the agency keep those hires from leaving?
6 days ago
gas...
Chris Sullivan

Gas prices have been creeping up, but who’s responsible?

Gas prices are on the rise again in Washington, and it doesn't have anything to do with the war in Ukraine or supply issues in the U.S.
10 days ago
Everett I-5...
Chris Sullivan

Emergency repairs to close multiple I-5 lanes in Everett this weekend

State transit officials are going to close two of the three northbound I-5 lanes around Marine View Drive in Everett all weekend. 
11 days ago
tow truck...
Chris Sullivan

Tow truck drivers beg for more protection on our roads

They clear our roads, many times in the dark of night, with no protection. Is it time to give tow truck drivers more visibility on our roads?
13 days ago
homeless boulder...
Chris Sullivan

Boulders return to prevent homeless camps along WA highways

Let's talk about boulders -- specifically, the use of boulders to prevent homeless camps from returning to sites along freeways and highways.
18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Chokepoints: Telling the US 2 trestle tolling truth