54 percent will try avoiding 520 bridge tolls, new KING 5 poll finds

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by ROBERT MAK / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 5:16 PM

SEATTLE - A new KING 5 poll finds more than half of King County residents say they’ll try to avoid 520 all together, after the state imposes tolls on the floating bridge. That’s just one of the interesting findings in our new KING 5 / SurveyUSA poll of 500 county residents.

The state is hoping to open a new 520 bridge in 2014, but the project is still $2 billion short and there’s no final decision on the Seattle portion between I-5 and the bridgedeck.  But one thing is more certain: The state plans to start tolls this spring (no specific date given yet).

In our poll, 89 percent were familiar with the plans to impose tolls, though only 66 percent were aware the tolls are coming this year.  Governor Christine Gregoire introduced the idea of “early tolling” a couple years ago.  The state’s idea is to collect tolls years before the bridge is actually open — putting money in the bank and reducing how much the state will need to finance.

What’s clear from the poll results is that people will try to avoid paying the toll.  But just how practical it will be to avoid 520 remains to be seen.  Among the findings:

  • Use of 520: 54 percent say they will try to avoid 520 all together once tolls are imposed.  25 percent say, they will probably reduce their use of 520.
  • Alternate routes:  75 percent say they’d consider an alternate route.  So what would that be?  19 percent say they’d go around the north end, 71 percent say they’d use I-90.
  • Effort to avoid a toll:  We asked how much time people would be willing to spend to avoid a toll.  10 percent say, five minutes or less.  But 36 percent say they’d invest an extra 5-10 minutes to avoid a toll.  And 32 percent say, they’d be willing to make a 10-15 minute detour.  14 percent say, they’d be willing to drive more than 15 minutes longer.
  • Public transportation:  18 percent say they’d be more likely to use transit.  17 percent say they’d be more likely to carpool.
  • Major life changes:  13 percent say they’d actually consider moving.  16 percent say they or someone in their family would consider changing jobs to avoid the toll.

One last interesting question.  Will the tolls benefit retailers on the west side or the east side of Lake Washington?  Nine percent say they’d be more likely to shop in Seattle.  26 percent say they’d be more likely to shop on the east side after tolls are imposed.  It appears the east side may have more to gain.  (Among east side residents, 55 percent say, they’d be more likely to stick to that side of the lake for shopping.)

SurveyUSA polled 500 King County adults, with a margin of error +/- 3 to 5.2 percent.

Coming up this Sunday on KING 5 News Up Front: An in-depth look at tolls on the 520—how drivers will react and how the system will work.

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