SEATTLE -- The latest delay according to the Washington StateDepartment of Transportation pushes tolling on Seattle's SR520 bridge back to August.
At first, drivers were told to anticipate tolling in April of 2011. Then it was delayed to June, late July, and now August.
I don't think it's going to be July, said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary.
At a press briefing, Hammond declined to set a new date.
We can't give you the date yet, because we have to see how these next tests come out, Hammond said.
Hammond says the system still hasn't passed the first phase of testing, and there are two more levels to go, which include actual testing of transponders and large volumes of transactions.
Two weeks ago, WSDOTofficials flew to Richardson, Texas to meet with the contractor. Electronic Transaction Consultants has a $23 million contract to set up tolling. WSDOTsays it is sticking with the contractor, but will dedicate its own accounting and technical personnel to make sure things get back on track.
We went to Texas and we basically said you've got to step up, said Deputy Transportation Secretary David Dye.
ETC has had similar problems setting up tolling systems in Illinois, Louisiana and Miami. Washington state Tolling Director Craig Stone says ETC was selected among five bidders.
Any more problems in Washington could upset the state's plan to sell bonds on 520, possibly delaying construction of a new bridge.
Certainly by this fall, we've got to have a good handle on the toll collection system and having it up and functioning if not it's going to cause some significant conversations in the legislature about what we do, Dye said.
Meanwhile, on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, where ETC took over an existing tolling system, the fallout continues after 26,000 tickets were sent to drivers who supposedly didn't pay the toll. Many of them had perfectly good accounts and the state now says it is dismissing 11,000 of those tickets.