Tolling on the SR 520 bridge starts 5 a.m. Thursday. What are you going to do?
SEATTLE – Less than 48 hours until tolling begins on the State Route 520 floating bridge, the Washington State Department of Transportation is strongly urging drivers to get a Good to Go pass now or they’ll pay more when they cross.
Tolling on the bridge starts at 5 a.m. Thursday and drivers who cross without a Good to Go account will pay an extra $1.50 per trip when they receive the toll in the mail. Cameras on the bridge will snap photos of license plates and send the bill to the registered owner. WSDOT top 10 tolling FAQs
WSDOT toll division director Craig Stone said Tuesday about 135,000 accounts have been set up since February, but WSDOT would like it to be higher. If you want to get it by Thursday, you need to go to Fred Meyer, Safeway, Costco or QFC, then activate it online or call the customer service center. There are five different pass options people can choose from.
“So far, we’ve been able to keep up with the demand on customer service online, over the phone and at the Customer Service Centers in Bellevue and the University District,” said Stone. “Data still shows many customers have Good To Go! passes that aren’t active.”
Stone said the passes also save money for the state because, the more people who have their tolls deducted electronically, the fewer people WSDOT needs to hire to scan for license plate numbers.
If you don’t get a Good to Go pass, you may luck out every once in a while and not have to pay the toll when you cross. Stone estimates that license plates of about 80 vehicles per day will slip out of the view of the cameras. But, that’s 80 out of about 120,000 vehicles daily.
Stone also warned drivers not to let the first couple of days of tolling fool you. WSDOT picked Dec. 29 because people are still off for the holidays and traffic volumes are down 20 percent. Starting Tuesday, people will be back to work and kids will be back in school.
Many people are vowing to take Interstate 90 or drive around Lake Washington instead of taking 520. Stone said WSDOT expects traffic patterns to normalize in about six months.
There won’t be any tolls collected between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Stone said that is to accommodate construction crews who have to shut down lanes to work on the new bridge.
In theory, the transponders save time for commuters, and make it easier for the state to collect the money.
That’s why the State is offering a discounted, variable rate to commuters who use Good-to-Go. Drivers who do not use the transponder could be sent bills of up to $5 per trip during peak hours.
WSDOT says drivers who don’t pay within 14 days will be charged another $5 late fee. If the driver still doesn’t pay, the state says it will attach a $40 civil penalty. That would make a $5 toll balloon into $50. WSDOT says it will use the threat of denying registration renewals and collections in order to collect the fees.
The tolls are expected to pay $1 billion of the $4.6 billion dollar replacement project.