KENMORE, Wash. -- While drivers may cringe at the thought of tolling on Highway 520, local city leaders far away from the highway are also bracing for change.
When WSDOT begins charging drivers sometime in December, additional traffic is expected on other roads as drivers find routes to avoid tolls.
Kenmore Mayor David Baker expects the impact to be substantial.
"There are no plans for mitigation," said Baker.
Highway 522 through Kenmore, Bothell and Lake Forest Park is the most natural route for drivers looking to avoid tolls. The highway already sees more than 50,000 cars every day, and Baker expects that to go up. He wants WSDOT to allocate more funding to improve 522 and maintain
any additional wear and tear.
"It's not that we don't want cars in our town. We want the traffic to support our business, but it's a strain," he said. "The problem is with this highway that has now gone to five and six lanes and it's all 'pass-through' traffic."
It's still to soon to tell how many drivers will change their habits, but Patty Rubstello, director of tolling systems for WSDOT, said there will be traffic monitoring systems in place.
"It's going to take a while to settle into a routine," she said. "We want to watch that and not make any quick changes."
She does say a quick fix could be to increase "green time" on stop lights along 522.
WSDOT has not yet announced when they will begin tolling but that announcement will likely come this week.