The 520 bridge across Lake Washington that connects Seattle to Bellevue will soon be facing tolls. The tolls are to help pay for the new, safer 520 bridge in 2014 which is estimated to cost roughly around $4.6 billion. The tolls will take effect this spring.
Based on studies by the Transportation Commission, the tolls should not lead to major congestion.
“Right now the models are showing, there’s going to be some diversion in the neighboring routes, alternative routes, but the models don’t indicate it’s going to be significant in terms of complete stoppages on roads that are free flowing,” said Transportation Commission’s Executive Director Reema Griffith.
Crews will soon be installing photo tolling equipment, “Good to Go” pass readers, and electronic toll rate signs. Installations will require Highway 520 to close from midnight to 4 a.m. on Mondays through Thursday. The work will be completed sometime in February.
Drivers have the option to be billed via mail but be warned, the bill will cost more than the toll. Drivers can also buy prepaid accounts that will automatically deduct the fee every time the car passes through the electronic sensor, working like a Orca card on the metro. The electronic tolling system is anticipated to keep the traffic flowing with no toll booths.
The tolls are estimated to follow a sliding scale ranging from $3.50, during the busiest hours, to $1.50 during the early mornings.
If too many drivers are avoiding the bridge, once the bridge tolling plans move forward, there is a possibility that toll fees will go down.
The public is encouraged to send in feedback on the plan to the Transportation Commission.