Posted on February 16, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Thursday, Feb 16 at 11:07 PM
SEATTLE, Wash. -- After six weeks of tolling, data provided to KING 5 News, by the State Department of Transportation shows more than one-third of drivers have abandoned the 520 floating toll bridge, putting pressure on alternate routes.
The data shows overall traffic volume is down on the 520 bridge by 34 percent. Eighteen percent in the morning commute, 25 percent in the evening.
The traffic has to go somewhere, and 11 percent of it is helping to slow things down on I-90, the toll free bridge option.
An additional 9 percent of cars and trucks are skipping both bridges, their drivers opting to drive north around Lake Washington on SR 522.
Some 5 percent of drivers have simply disappeared; either riding transit, carpooling, or just not crossing the lake.
Traffic engineers said it would take some time for traffic patterns to sort themselves out after tolling started.
Toll rates vary by time of day with a peak of $5.00 for those who pay by mail, and $3.50 for those with Good 2 Go passes.
“Tolling is helping Washington move forward with critical transportation investments and will finance ongoing and future work to replace the vulnerable SR 520 floating bridge and corridor,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond in an earlier news release.
“SR 520 toll revenue will provide $1 billion to fund pontoon construction in Grays Harbor, and floating bridge construction and improvements on the Eastside, which already are under way. Starting tolling before the new bridge is built is keeping financing costs down,” the release said.
Traffic patterns are being monitored, and are expected to fluctuate, as the region gets used to the toll bridge, experts say.