I-5 drivers feel pain of 520 tolls

I-5 drivers feel pain of 520 tolls

I-5 drivers feel pain of 520 tolls

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @NSwabyKing5

KING5.com

Posted on March 5, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 5 at 1:52 PM

KIRKLAND, Wash - At INRIX in Kirkland, workers crunch numbers on traffic data. One question they have been working to answer recently is how has 520 tolling impacted traffic?

In the two months since the state started collecting tolls, a change can be found on a toll free route, Interstate 90. Traffic data from January and February was compared with travel times for the same time period a year ago.

"Traffic is about 10 miles per hour slower on I-90," said Jim Bak with INRIX.

What's even worse is Interstate 5 between I-90 and State Route 520.

"Typically, at peak hours, to go through that peak stretch there takes about 10 to 12 minutes. We are seeing anything from 18 to 22 minutes as far as travel time," said Bak.

Traffic volumes on State Route 522 are also increasing as drivers look for routes around the toll.

One place in a tough traffic spot is Mercer Island. Business owner Jenny Lau travels from Bellevue to her store, Mercer Island Nutrition, five days a week.

"The first couple of weeks it was bad. You could definitely notice a difference," said Lau.

Lau said her route is nothing compared to what she recently saw when she traveled on I-5.

"It was like, 'People do this every single day?' I could not possibly, no way," said Lau.

It could get worse. Baseball season could throw drivers a curve ball.

"What does that mean for traffic when you have a 7 p.m. Mariners game and you have the added commute during rush hour because people are avoiding the 520 bridge?" asked Bak.

Bak said with so many unknowns, the new traffic normal still has not come in to view.

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