Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Tolls Are Coming; The Tolls Are Coming...

I don’t have a lot of heartburn about using tolls as a way to pay for specific projects. And I openly admit, my adamant opposition to tolls in general was quelled significantly by the way the Tacoma Narrows Bridge has alleviated the monumental problems we had there.

However, if you don’t believe tolls will become a way of life, WSDOT is already advertising on the radio, that Time-Of-Day-Tolling will begin shortly on the 520 Bridge. What that means is, the amount of the toll will depend on the time of day and traffic congestion. 

In my view, tolling an existing facility that we long ago bought and paid for, and that's scheduled to be upgraded — although that upgrade is not yet even designed, much less constructed — is a new level of arrogance, even for WSDOT. More of the same is on the way.

Tolling will certainly reduce congestion on 520 — because people will stop using it, and take I-90. This will then become the excuse to toll I-90. Will I-5 and 405 be far behind?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:30 PM

    The Citizens Againts Tolls (CAT) group here did everything they could to insure transparency accountability and most of all success in delivering a project that actually solved the problem. We first demanded the addition of the 24th St. on=ramp that required the 4th lane be added to the new bridge and then demanded they not reduce the old bridge down to 3 lanes - as was the plan. The Narrows Bridge was only a success because at the end of the day the toll payers saw a direct benefit for the money they were paying.

    This will be a completely different story on the SR 520 project. When complete (for north of $4 Billion Dollars) they will still only have two general purpose lanes and the only additional capacity will be the HOV lanes. That was to original solution on the Narrows and never would have worked to solve congestion.

    So now "TOLLS" have a reputation of success. The people up north want the same success we have and have been lulled into thinking they will be protected from illegal uses of toll revenue because we did all the heavy lifting so they don't need to pay much attention - WRONG.

    The legislature changed several laws last session to broaden the use of toll revenue - not a suprise given the new popularity of tolls. The problem is that now tolls can be used to pay for anything within the corrodor. For the SR 520 the corridor runs from SR-405 to I-5. Not only will the toll payers being paying for the new interchange connectors but tolls can also be used to pay for anything considered by the DOT as an "operation cost".

    I insisted that DOT not try to change the laws that apply to the Narrows Bridge and I think we'll be OK but there is still the edquity issues that needs to be resolved. The 520 and the Seattle tunnel project each got $2 Billion in State funds (about 50% contribution) while we are still out here paying 100% of the Narrows costs with tolls. I'll be done when the State writes us a check for $350,000,000 for our 50%.....

    Randy Boss
    (253) 279-8877