OLYMPIA, Wash. — There's a proposal to remove all tolls from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge within two years and pay off the remaining debt owed on it.
State Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) is sponsoring the legislation.
“This proposal is bold but the demand is simple: our community here on the peninsula should get the infrastructure investments we need and deserve,” Randall said. “We have long raised our voices together about the problems with the way this bridge was financed, and the inequity of leaving toll payers responsible for nearly all of the cost."
Randall said the state has a strong budget outlook thanks to unspent federal COVID-19 recovery money. The Legislature, she said, should seize that opportunity to pay off the remaining debt on the Narrows Bridge.
According to Randall, the bridge's $729 million construction costs will end up being closer to $1.48 billion, which would be paid off by June 30, 2030. The proposed legislation would pay off the debt nearly a decade early by spending $672 million for outstanding principal and interest, $57 million for deferred sales tax on construction and $43 million loaned by the state to freeze toll rates.
“My community – our friends and family here on the peninsula, our neighbors in Tacoma – have carried nearly all of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge debt since it opened in 2007," Randall said. I’ve heard time and again that these tolls are a barrier as folks travel to school and to work, visit loved ones on the other side of the Sound, and come down to Olympia to testify."
“The solution isn’t cheap, but it’s necessary, and I’m ready to work with my colleagues and on behalf of our community to make it possible,” she added.
A companion House bill is also being pre-filed, sponsored by Rep. Dan Bronoske.
The 60-day legislative session begins Jan. 10.
Tolls for the Narrows Bridge increased by about 25 cents in October, following approval from the Washington State Transportation Commission. Eastbound drivers who have a Good To Go! pass now pay $5.25 to use the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. People paying with cash or card at the toll booth pay $6.25 per trip. It's $7.25 if you're paying by mail.