New tolls on the Highway 520 bridge have reduced traffic so much that drivers are commonly traveling at 65 mph, maybe three times as fast as they're used to.
"Clearly, 520 drivers' adrenaline starts pumping when they see a road that's usually a parking lot, wide open," says Jim Bak, spokesman for the Kirkland-based INRIX traffic-data company.
Motorists are diverting to other roads, chiefly the toll-free Interstate 90 bridge. Regionally, commutes were 5 mph to 10 mph faster, because of the holidays, since tolls began on Dec. 29. Officials say this week will provide a more accurate picture — but on Friday the state Department of Transportation (DOT) hedged its bets by saying traffic might not settle until February, given the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
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