Drivers ask why no announcement on 520 toll increase


by KING 5 News

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 22 at 5:20 PM

SEATTLE -- Just a few short months after tolling started on the 520 bridge, traffic is way down. But the cost of a trip is going up.

Starting July 1, toll rates will increase 2.5 percent  – 9 cents on the peak rate of $3.50 and 3 cents on the lowest rate of $1.10. Rates will increase 2.5 percent annually through 2015. In 2016, rates will increase 15 percent.

By the time it's all over, it'll end up costing drivers $12 to cross the bridge round trip.

The news about increased tolls is a surprise to a lot of drivers.

"I didn't heard anything about it," said one driver.

Many drivers expressed similar frustration, saying the five consecutive years of toll hikes that were part of public hearings were not part of the public conversation.

The state approved the hikes last January, but there was no public announcement of the increase.

"I don't understand why they would pull a sneak attack like that," said a driver.

"If that was part of the plan all along, I feel like it should have been something that was clearly laid out," said driver Holly Johnson.

To the point of making the public aware of the higher tolls, WSDOT officials said that's the Transportation Commission's job, and they did what they legally had to do:

"They went through a full administrative code process, public hearings, meetings, discussions about this," said Craig Stone, WSDOT's Toll Director.

Additionally, the $1.50 surcharge for those without a Good to Go pass will also increase the same amount as the tolls for the next five years.

WSDOT said the state still has the authority to raise tolls even higher if they're not making enough money from drivers on the 520 bridge.